Obama talks economy, health care at backyard chat


by KING 5 News and Associated Press


Posted on October 21, 2010 at 6:25 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 21 at 2:25 PM

SEATTLE – President Barack Obama is in Seattle today on the second day of a West Coast campaign blitz to support Democrats, particularly Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who is in a tight race against Republican challenger Dino Rossi.

Obama engaged in a "backyard conversation" at a Seattle home in the Wedgwood / View Ridge neighborhood Thursday morning.

Obama staunchly defended his health care and stimulus initiatives but acknowledged he may not have taken enough time to explain the policies to the public.

"We had to move so fast, we were in such emergency mode, that it was very difficult for us to spend time a lot doing victory laps and advertising exactly what we were doing because we had to move onto the next thing," he said. "I take some responsibility for that."

Obama has vigorously stepped up his campaigning in efforts in recent days with fellow Democrats facing the specter of losing control of the House or Senate -- or both -- to Republicans on Nov. 2.

During the question-and-answer session at the backyard chat, Obama trumpeted his support for women-owned businesses.

As the economy has changed, Obama says women have made "enormous strides" and now constitute more than half of the workforce. Obama says that means women's issues are now middle class family issues. Obama said female business owners have particularly benefited from the administration's efforts to free up lending for small businesses.

Before Obama arrived at the backyard chat, he managed to squeeze in some time to stop for doughnuts.  Obama and Murray dropped by Top Pot Doughnuts in downtown Seattle, where Obama ordered a sampler of two dozen doughnuts to go. 

Obama shared a doughnut with Murray, declaring it "outstanding." He urged the other customers at the shop to vote in the upcoming midterm election before carrying the two boxes of doughnuts back to his motorcade.

After the backyard chat, Obama and Murray headed to a "Get Out the Vote" rally at the University of Washington. After the rally at the UW, Obama is expected to depart Seattle at Boeing Field at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Traffic is expected to be disrupted on Interstate 5 and on major streets during the visit.

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Obama is in the midst of his longest campaign swing as president, a four-day trip through Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Minnesota.

He campaigned in Portland Wednesday for John Kitzhaber, Oregon’s Democratic candidate for governor, before flying to Seattle's Boeing Field around 9:30 p.m.

He stayed at the Westin hotel in downtown Seattle, where many roads were blocked, more "no parking signs" were posted, and police presence was increased around the hotel.

Obama's visit had a lot of people talking in downtown Seattle Thursday morning - some were thrilled to see the president in town again, others not pleased at all.

"I think it is very important to the political process, and gets somebody engaged. It is all about engagement," said Eric Warn. "It is very important."

Another man, Gus Mansour, was carrying a sign that read "I Love my President" across the street from the Westin.

"We understand what he is doing for all Americans, and we need to support him in the next two years to get this country back on track," said Mansour.

John Bianchi wasn't as happy about the visit because he's so upset by government spending.

"What he's done to the country, are you kidding? The economy, what happens to our children, our grandchildren? Who is going to pay for this," asked Bianchi.

This is Obama's second visit since August to campaign for Murray, a three-term incumbent who is in a tight battle with Republican challenger Dino Rossi.

After Seattle, Obama will campaign in California and Nevada for senators Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid, respectively. Obama will also stump for gubernatorial candidates California and Minnesota ahead of the Nov. 2 elections.

KING 5's Natalie Swaby contributed to this report.

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