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Obama Defends Record of First 100 Days in Office

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Marking his first 100 days in office, U.S. President Barack Obama said late Wednesday his administration is off to a "good start," but more work needs to be done.

At a nationally televised White House news conference, Mr. Obama said his young administration had begun taking steps to "clear away the wreckage" of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, including with a $3.4 trillion budget blueprint passed hours earlier by the U.S. Congress.

He said he is proud of what his administration has achieved, but said he is not content. He said there needs to be a new foundation for growth that will strengthen the economy and help the U.S. compete in the 21st century.

He promised an "unrelenting, unyielding effort" to bolster the nation's prosperity and security in the days and months ahead.

Mr. Obama touted his efforts in changing direction in U.S. foreign policy, including ending the war in Iraq, and shutting down the detention facility for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also said waterboarding, a harsh interrogation technique authorized by the Bush administration, is torture.

President Obama has undertaken an ambitious agenda since becoming the nation's first African-American president on January 20. He pushed through Congress a $787 billion economic stimulus package and unveiled a number of initiatives to rescue the ailing financial and automotive industries.

He said he was surprised by the number of critical issues that have emerged during his first 100 days, including the economic crisis and the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.

Mr. Obama also discussed Pakistan, where the government is battling for survival against militant Taliban forces. He said he is confident Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is safe, and that the military is starting to take "much more seriously" the threat from the internal militant extremists.

Earlier Wednesday, in Missouri, Mr. Obama said the U.S. must find ways to make sure the current financial crisis is never repeated, and that it must reduce growing health care costs that are hurting businesses and families.

It has been a tradition for journalists and historians to examine a new president's first 100 days in office since Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency in 1933. President Roosevelt pushed through 15 major pieces of legislation during that period to help the nation combat the Great Depression.