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Obama defends himself from array of GOP criticism

Published: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 11:04 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP photo)
President Barack Obama arrives Friday with PG&E apprentice electrician Erick Varela, a U.S. Army combat infantryman in Iraq (left), and Vice President Joe Biden (right), to the East Room of the White House in Washington to speak about helping the long-term unemployed.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama defended himself against an array of Republican criticism in an interview during Fox’s Super Bowl pregame show.

The president traded barbs with interviewer Bill O’Reilly in a live interview that covered his troubled health care law rollout, the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya and revelations that the IRS targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny. “I try to focus not on the fumbles but on the next plan,” Obama said.

Obama would not say why he didn’t fire Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after the failed launch of the government’s online marketplace. He also declined to say that the biggest mistake of his presidency was telling Americans if they liked their health care they could keep it and argued the website is now working the way it’s supposed to.

“We’ve got 3 million people signed up so far. We’re about a month behind where we anticipated we wanted to be,” Obama said

He defended against O’Reilly’s questions about why administration officials initially described the attack in Benghazi, Libya, as a spontaneous mob protest of an anti-Islamic, American-made video. He rejected “the notion that we would hide the ball for political purposes when a week later we all said in fact there was a terrorist attack taking place.”

“That wouldn’t be a very good cover-up,” Obama said.

And he said there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” contributing to the IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.

With two hours until kickoff in the Super Bowl, Obama said the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks were too evenly matched to pick a winner. He predicted a score of 24-21, but said he didn’t know which side would come out on top.

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