President Obama fielded questions from 13 members of the White House press corps Friday during his eigth solo news conference since Mr. Obama came into office.
His East Room opening remarks focused on the economy, with the announcement that Austan Goolsbee will take over as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. But the questions from reporters varied from tax cuts, health care costs and the effect the new law could have on the midterm elections, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Gitmo, bin Laden and the upcoming ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
This is the president's second formal press conference this year. He last addressed the press corps in the East Room the end of May, in which his opening remarks focused on the Gulf oil spill. He called on ten reporters that time.
The event ran over an hour and fifteen minutes, and Mr. Obama seemed to save his most passionate response for the last question posed by Fox News' Wendell Goler about the proposed construction of a mosque near Ground Zero and the Florida pastor's plan to burn copies of the Koran. The president again made clear the administration's position against Pastor Terry Jones plans while defending any religious organization's right to build on a site.
Critics have charged that the president should not be inserting himself, or at least careful in doing so, into these types of social issues and not further ignite the intensity of the debate.
Here's the exchange between Obama and Goler: