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Subdued Obama Hopes for Better 2014

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Obama speaks Friday at his end-of-year news conference before heading to Hawaii for a family vacation.

He again defended the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs while refusing to weigh in on Edward Snowden’s legal status. He said he is willing to make some changes to assuage the public’s concern, but still believes the programs have not been abused — and that Snowden’s disclosures hurt the United States even though they provoked a necessary discussion.

Obama brushed aside his poor poll ratings.

“If I was interested in polling, I wouldn’t have run for president,” he said. “I took this job to deliver for the American people, and I knew and will continue to know that there are going to be ups and downs on it.”

He also spoke positively about his new hires, including John Podesta as a new counselor, saying he would increase the White House’s “bandwidth” to take on issues and said he had been trying to bring him on since his transition in 2008.

And he said that more changes would be coming, including some adjustments to his health care team once the rollout is complete.

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