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Obama Ends Two-Day West Coast Campaign Swing

President Barack Obama waves before his departure from Los Angeles International airport in Los Angeles, April 22, 2011
President Barack Obama waves before his departure from Los Angeles International airport in Los Angeles, April 22, 2011

President Barack Obama is back at the White House after a two-day swing through the politically-important western states of California and Nevada. Obama used the trip and other recent appearances to urge support for his proposals to lower deficits and debt, while acknowledging frustrations in his political base as his 2012 re-election campaign heats up.

In California, Nevada and other states over the past week, the president has promoted what he calls his "Shared Prosperity Through Shared Responsibility" campaign.  

In doing so, he framed the debate back in Washington over deficits and debt as a choice between responsible proposals he has put forward, and what he says are more extreme plans by Republicans.

Mixing politics with fundraising, Obama addressed everything from taxes and the need to reform, but maintain government health care programs, to the high cost of gasoline.   

On the deficits and debt debate, he stressed that he and Republicans agree on the need to cut spending and attack the $14.3 trillion national debt threatening the nation's future. But as he said in remarks at a clean energy company in Reno, Nevada, the question is how to accomplish it.

"Just as ignoring deficits would mortgage our future, failing to invest in our kids and our infrastructure, and our basic research, and our clean energy, that would be mortgaging our future as well. And I am not willing to do it. And that is at the core of the debate that we're having right now."

The president and Republicans would trim at least $4 trillion or more over a period of 10 to 12 years. But Obama opposes Republican proposals that would fundamentally change decades-old health programs for the elderly and poor.

During his western trip, he again acknowledged frustrations with the economy, and a lack of progress on such issues as immigration reform and energy policy.

At the California headquarters of the social media network Facebook, company employee Lauren Hale asked how the president planned to shift the national political debate back to a focus on economic recovery.

"We have seen the conversation shift from that of job creation and economic recovery to that of spending cuts and the deficit. So, we would love to know your thoughts on how you're going to balance these two going forward, or even potentially shift the conversation back," Hal asked.

At a community college in Northern Virginia earlier in the week, Obama urged younger voters not to sit out the 2012 election campaign, warning that if they do, they would be allowing what he called "powerful political interests" to have their way.

"I can't afford to have all of you as bystanders in this debate. I want everybody to be in the game. I want you to hold me accountable, I want you to hold all of Washington accountable. There is a way to solve this deficit problem in an intelligent way that is fair and shares sacrifices so we can share opportunity all across America. But I can't do that if your voices are not heard."

The president's appearances at fundraisers in California drew some of the wealthiest members of his contributing base - business, movie industry executives and stars - easily able to pay the legal maximum for individual campaign donations of $35,800.   

At the end of his western trip, addressing a Democratic National Committee rally at SONY Studios in Culver City, he joked that he knew supporters were frustrated and skeptical, and that he too has been frustrated at times.

The president said he hopes his supporters, however, will be excited about the 18 months until the 2012 presidential election, and as he put it, the next four years after that.

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