The president offered his strongest remarks to date on Iran amid growing criticism from Republicans and others that he has been too restrained. But he denied his statement was in response to criticism from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and he took a moment to remind his erstwhile opponent who won the election.
Only Im the president of the United States, Obama noted, suggesting that his position forced him to look at a broader picture than critics who could carp from the sidelines. Ive got responsibilities ... to make sure we are not used as a tool to be exploited by other countries, he said of the tempered approach to Iran he has used so far.
Obama also applauded Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for his response to the economic crisis, but he declined to commit to reappointing him.
The president said a second stimulus bill was not yet needed, suggesting Congress should allow the first stimulus bill to play out further and see how the economy does.
And, a day after signing the tobacco bill into law, Obama acknowledged that he still smokes occasionally, though not every day and not in front of his children. I would say that I am 95 percent cured, but there are times I mess up, he said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.