Obama: 'three of toughest years'

President Obama was greeted with cheers of "Four more years!" as he entered Jeff and Nancy Stack's beige-colored stone home situated on a small hill overlooking the ocean.

Many of the 170 supporters, seated at tables under a white tent in the backyard took photos as the president arrived about 10 a.m. Thursday.

"We're proving that Orange County is Obama country," Janet Keller said as she introduced Obama, comparing his visit to Corona del Mar to a trip President Franklin Roosevelt took through the town 74 years ago after another well-known fiscal crisis.

After thanking everyone, Obama said, "It is great to be here on such a spectacular day. This is what California weather is supposed to look like."

"I have to say, yesterday, up in L.A., I could see my breath when I was speaking," he continued as the audience laughed. "I was a little concerned. But today you guys are living up to your billing."

He thanked Keller for her introduction, his hosts for opening their home and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) and Mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte, N.C., the host city for the Democratic National Convention this summer, for their attendance.

"... We've obviously gone through three of the toughest years that America has seen in our lifetime: the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the worst financial crisis since the 1930s," he said. "Four million people losing their jobs in the six months before I took office, 4 million more in the six months after I was sworn in, but before our economic policies had a chance to take effect. ... And as we look back over these last three years, I think we can all say that we're not yet where we need to be, we haven't solved every challenge, but what we've been able to accomplish — in part because of you, in part because of your support and your voices — has been remarkable.

"The month I took office we were losing 750,000 [jobs] a month," he continued. "Last month we created 250,000. That's a million-job swing."

He said that he would not forget the issues that got him into the race in 2008, including health care and a lacking energy policy. Those issues were being kicked down the road "because we didn't have enough political will and political courage to do something about it."

To address health care, "we pushed and pushed and pushed, until we finally were able to pass legislation that ensures that every American is going to be able to get health care in the country, and nobody is going to go bankrupt when they get sick."

"We kept on focusing on energy, even though we were grappling with this economic crisis, and have doubled the production of clean energy in this country from wind and solar and biodiesel," Obama said. "And even as we have said that we're going to have to continue to develop American energy and traditional energy sources like oil and gas, we've also said we're not going to compromise on making sure that there are strong environmental controls in place, because we want our kids having clean air and clean water."

Among other victories, he listed passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 to give equal pay for equal work.

"I want my daughters to be treated just like somebody else's sons when it comes to a job," he said to audience applause.

He also pointed to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," citing the sacrifices the country's military makes: "We don't want your capacity to serve the country you love to be dependent on who you love."

From doubling fuel-efficiency for cars to making student loans more accessible, "even as we were dealing with the immediate crisis, the immediate emergency, we've tried to keep our eye on our long-term goal, which is restoring an America where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules — an America where everybody feels a sense of responsibility not only to themselves, but also to the larger community and the larger country," he said.

All this was done, although there was vocal opposition, and amid the Arab Spring where people, especially the young, said they wanted a different way of life, he said. But there have been setbacks and there is more work to be done, including immigration reform and closing the deficit by ending programs that don't work and reevaluating how money is spent.

"And we say to those who can afford to do a little bit more, like me, that you've got to be part of the solution in terms of lowering this deficit," Obama said. "It can't be just done on the backs of seniors or students in the forms of higher loans or more expensive Medicare."

Supporting his campaign in 2008 was not the easy way, he said, pointing to the electability of someone named Barack Hussein Obama, but that means supporters got involved knowing they had a sense "of how this country could be brought together and start moving in a new direction."

"And although I'm a little grayer now than I was, a little dinged up — some of the newness and excitement that possessed us in 2008 naturally will have dissipated," Obama said. "That sense of urgency and determination, and the values that are at stake are no less today than they were back in 2008. If anything, it's more urgent and we have to be more determined and more energized and work even harder. And if we do, we're going to have four and a half more years to change America."

White House pool story

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