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Bessent: Barack Obama uses press conference to kick off a campaign to govern

President Barack Obama speaks during his first press

President Barack Obama speaks during his first press conference since winning re-election in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Nov. 14, 2012) Credit: MCT

President Barack Obama has got his swagger back. He was feisty and confident Wednesday in his first post-election press conference, insisting he has a mandate to raise taxes on the rich, making a pitch for bipartisan immigration reform and reiterating he will not let Iran get a nuclear weapon.

He got testy in defending his friend and UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who some claim misled the nation about the terrorist attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Rice is on the short list of prospects to become the next Secretary of State.

“She has done exemplary work,” Obama said, “with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. To besmirch her reputation is outrageous. When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me,” he said.

But what’s most noteworthy about the press conference is that Obama held it at all.

One of the failings of his first term was neglecting to use his bully pulpit to move the public to his side in pitched policy fights with Republicans. Obama admitted as much before the election and apparently is out to correct his mistake.

The public should be engaged in big decisions that lie ahead on taxes, deficits, jobs, economic growth,  immigration, infrastructure, energy, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Now that the election campaign is over, let the governing campaign begin.