President Obama delivered sweeping criticism -- of rioters, the media, the police and society itself -- in the wake of the violence in Baltimore, as he called for a national "soul-searching" and used the events to renew his call for second-term agenda items like job training. 

"This has been a slow-rolling crisis," Obama said, speaking in the Rose Garden alongside visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

He added: "There are some police departments that have to do some soul-searching ... But I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching. ... 

"This is not new, it's been going on for decades." 

Obama spoke in broad terms as he, for the first time, publicly addressed the looting and rioting in Baltimore that erupted late Monday. He was pointed in condemning the rioters. 

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"There's no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday," he said. "When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they're not protesting. They're not making a statement. They're stealing." 

But Obama went on to critique the media as well as the conditions that have led to despair and violence in neighborhoods across the country. 

At the end of a lengthy response to a reporter's question on the riots, Obama tied it together by pitching agenda items on criminal justice reform, job training and other issues. 

He said police can't just do the "dirty work" of containing social problems; America needs to make "investments" and changes to help lift up communities. 

"There's a bunch [in] my agenda that would make a difference right now in that," Obama said. 

As Obama enters the second half of his second term -- effectively, the fourth quarter of his presidency -- he said that effort would require a "political mobilization" the country hasn't seen in some time. 

Republicans, though, sometimes bristle at job training programs because the federal government already has dozens of them, and fiscal watchdogs say some are duplicative. 

The riots erupted late Monday, following the funeral for Freddie Gray, a young black man who died after suffering a spinal injury in police custody.   

Obama stressed that only a relative handful of people are exploiting the situation in Baltimore -- and he critiqued the media for having given light coverage to the previously peaceful protests. 

"Frankly, it didn't get that much attention," Obama said. "And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again." 

Citing this and the case in Ferguson and others, Obama said there have been "too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals ... in ways that raise troubling questions." 

"We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here," Obama said, while praising some police chiefs for "doing the right thing." 

The city of Baltimore, together with the National Guard and other law enforcement agencies from the broader region, are bracing for a second night of potential unrest. The city of Baltimore plans to enforce a curfew starting at 10 p.m. ET.