WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — With November drawing closer and no breathing room in the polls, President Barack Obama is reassuring voters that he can work with Republicans to help turnaround the economy.
Speaking to CBS News, Obama says he can find “common ground” despite the partisanship leading up to Election Day.
“I’m willing to go more than halfway. And I’ve displayed that,” Obama told CBS News. “I think that throughout my political career I’ve shown not only an instinct but a desire to find common ground.”
The president added that he’s not willing to slash some programs because that won’t help grow the economy.
“What I’m not willing to do is to slash education spending or, you know, health care for poor and needy children. And the reason I’m not willing to do that is because it’s not gonna help the economy grow,” Obama explained to CBS News. “Independent economists have looked at this … It wouldn’t reduce the deficit.”
Obama recently returned from a two-day bus tour in the battleground state of Florida where he was trying to sway undecided voters while trying to move past a weak jobs report and highlighting the impact of Mitt Romney’s proposals on older workers and those nearing retirement.
The president promoted a study showing that future retirees under Romney’s plan would pay tens of thousands of dollars more for health care over their retirement period. The report was rejected quickly by Romney’s campaign, which faulted Obama for relying on “discredited attacks” and noted the study was conducted by Obama’s former adviser.
Obama told about 3,000 supporters in Melbourne, Fla., Sunday that if Romney had his way, Americans will pay more so insurers could make more. “No American should have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies,” he said.
For Obama, Florida presents a convergence of issues. Even as Obama sought to touch a nerve on health care, Romney’s campaign was trying to stoke anti-Obama sentiments among the state’s numerous Jewish voters and donors by drawing attention to the flap at the Democratic National Convention over whether the party platform should define Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
White House press secretary Jay Carney sought to distinguish between what Obama has said is his personal view — that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of Israel — and longstanding U.S. foreign policy, which states that the status of Jerusalem should be part of final negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Also on the minds of some Florida residents was the future of the U.S. space program. Greeting Obama as he arrived at his rally in Melbourne were a knot of protesters holding anti-Obama signs, including one that read: “Obama lied. Space Coast died.”
Melbourne, home of the Kennedy Space Center and the Florida Institute of Technology, has been hard hit by cutbacks in the space program. Obama’s campaign cast blame on President George W. Bush and House Republicans, while Obama said his proposals to put the U.S. on the cutting edge of space exploration would inspire the next generation.
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