Recapturing the Campaign Spirit

By Dan Froomkin
1:45 PM ET, 04/29/2009

In his first visit to Missouri since a massive rally held two days before he was elected president, Barack Obama recalled the spirit that motivated his campaign and said nobody should be surprised by the scope of his ambitions.

Casting his first 100 days as just the beginning of a long journey, he declared himself "pleased with the progress we've made" but "not satisfied," and "confident in the future" but "not content with the present."

It was in his Inaugural address on January 20 that Obama said: "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America."

This morning, he told the St. Louis audience: "Today, on my 100th day in office, I've come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we've begun the work of remaking America."

Taking obvious pleasure in being out of Washington, Obama marveled at some of the criticism he gets here. "Now, I've got to say that -- that some of the people in Washington have been surprised. They said, 'Boy, he's so ambitious. He's been trying to do so much,'" Obama said. "Now, maybe they're not accustomed to this, but there's no mystery to what we've done. The priorities that we've acted upon were the things that we said we'd do during the campaign. (Applause)

"I mean, it's not -- it's not like anybody should be surprised. The policies we proposed were plans we talking about for two years, in places like this all across the country with ordinary Americans. The changes that we've made are the changes we promised. That's what you should expect from a president.

"You may not always agree with me, but if you take a look at what I said I was going to do when I was running for office and you now look at what we are in the middle of doing, we're doing what we said we'd do."

He also thanked the public for being more patient than the pundits.

"The crisis that we're confronting was many years in the making. It will take us time to overcome it. We've come a long way. We can see the light on the horizon, but we've got a much longer journey ahead. And one of the encouraging things for me is the fact that the American people know this. You know that our progress has to be measured in the results that we achieve over many months and years, not the minute-by-minute talk in the media.

"And you know that progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I'm not a miracle worker. We've got a lot of tough choices, and hard decisions, and hard work ahead of us."

Obama -- and his agenda -- seem to draw strength from the people who live outside the Beltway. And time and again today, Obama made it clear where his heart is. "My campaign wasn't born in Washington," he said. "My campaign was rooted in neighborhoods just like this one, in towns and cities all across America, rooted in folks who work hard and look after their families and seek a brighter children -- future for their children and for their communities and for their country.....

"You're who I'm working for."

Tonight, however, Obama will come face to face with those purveyors of "minute-by-minute" talk in his third prime-time press conference.

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