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Obama Defends Economic and Security Policies


U.S. President Barack Obama is stepping up his campaign to win support for his policies with a series of appearances around the country and on national television. It is part of an effort to recapture the political offensive, at a time when his budget and his economic team are coming under fire in Washington.

Mr. Obama is traveling the country to sell his policies to the American public. He is also turning to the airwaves.

On Thursday, he appeared on one of the most popular late-night television programs in the United States: NBC's "The Tonight Show." He followed that up with a lengthy interview with the CBS television news magazine, "60 Minutes."

It is one of the oldest and most watched news broadcasts in America. And Sunday's "60 Minutes" interview was scheduled to air in the midst of the network's coverage of the national collegiate basketball championships, guaranteeing a sizable audience.

It was recorded Friday at the White House, as the president was trying to ease public anger over the disclosure the giant insurance company AIG was granting massive bonuses to executives at a time when it is getting government funds to stay afloat.

In a preview of the interview - aired early Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation" - the president defended the actions of his administration in general and his Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner in particular.

"Tim Geithner is as sharp and as skilled a public servant as we have, who has on his plate a n unprecedented set of problems ...," Mr. Obama said.

But Republicans continue to call Geithner's judgment into question.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. He told "Face the Nation" that Geithner's handling of the AIG case is a cause for concern.

"I think it raises questions about whether he has got his eye on the ball or not," Grassley said.

In the "60 Minutes" interview, President Obama also talked about recent criticism of his security policies from former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney said the Obama administration's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center will make America less safe and more vulnerable to another terrorist attack.

President Obama responded by saying his predecessor's detention policies were - in his words - "unsustainable" and fueled anti-American sentiment abroad.

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