Obama Rejects 'Timid' Characterization on 'Daily Show'

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WASHINGTON - President Obama taped a segment Wednesday on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, and in a moment of seriousness, dismissed the comedian's charge that his legislative agenda has been too "timid."

As part of an effort to reach younger voters in the run up to Election Day, Obama's appearance was marked by the usual light moments expected from the Comedy Central show: host Jon Stewart presented Obama with a coffee cup with the presidential seal on it, which he proudly called, Mug Force One.

When the president complimented Stewart on the temporary set that had been constructed in Washington, saying it reminded Obama of his convention set up, Stewart joked, "We actually bought it, it was in a warehouse."

But there were of course some hard hitting moments, which are also expected from Stewart, who has become known for making news, as much as he is known for making fun of it.

The president spoke much like he has on the campaign trail this Fall -- talking about the failed policies of the past i.e. the previous administration specifically and Republicans in general -- and noting the successes of the administration and Democrats on issues like health care and financial regulatory reform.

But when Stewart accused the administration's legislation of being "timid," Obama shot back. "John, I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you, this notion that health care was timid."

After listing the reasons he finds the new health care law to be consequential -- 30 million now covered, children being covered by under their parents policies -- the president argued, "What happens is it gets discounted because the assumption is we didn't get 100 percent of what we wanted, we only get 90 percent of what we wanted, so let's focus on the 10 percent we didn't get," Obama lamented.

But the president somewhat conceded Stewart's argument, "If the point, Jon, is that overnight we did not transform the health care system, that point is true," Obama said but went on to argue, "When we promised during campaign 'change you can believe in,' it wasn't change you can believe in in 18 months."

Evoking his 2008 campaign cheer, Obama joked the 2012 slogan should be, "Yes we can...but it's not going to happen overnight."

President Obama defended Democrats who took "tough" votes in Congress and who are now in tight re-election battles. He lauded two members by name including Virginia's Rep. Tom Perriello, who Mr. Obama will campaign for in Charlottesville on Friday. Perriello voted for the president's health care bill and is in a tight race with Republican state Senator Robert Hurt.

The president argued if lawmakers "did what they thought was right and voted with integrity" they would be rewarded on election night.

Stewart is in Washington to prepare for his "Rally to Restore Sanity" on the National Mall Saturday (fellow Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert is in town as well, with "The March to Keep Fear Alive").

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the Stewart show taping was part of the administration's objective to get out the vote this last week before the election.

"Obviously you've got a constituency of younger voters that watch that show, and it's a good place to go and reach them," Gibbs told reporters Tuesday. "Whether you're doing something like ‘The View,' or you're doing something like ‘The Daily Show'...there's a lot of different channels for people to watch these days."

He continued, "They get their information from not just television news and cable and newspapers and radio and the Internet. They get them from -- there's a lot of different places. And the President hasn't been shy about going to the places where people are getting their information and trying to make his case. And I think that's what he'll do on the show."