It's been a tough year for President Obama, to say the least, and he wrapped it up with a press conference in which he fielded questions about the Affordable Care Act and the NSA, among other topics. All the while, he remained optimistic moving into the New Year.
"More Americans are finding work and experiencing the pride of a paycheck. Our businesses are positioned for new growth and new jobs, and I firmly believe that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America." (Via Fox News)
But he followed that up by saying there's still plenty of work left to do. And the president wasn't shy about inaction in Congress both in the past and more recently. (Via NBC)
"Because Congress didn't act, more than 1 million of their constituents will lose a vital economic lifeline at Christmas time. ... I think we're a better country than that. We don't abandon each other when times are tough." (Via NBC)
On the topic of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama defended the program, acknowledging the administration fell short but optimistically focusing on the growing number of people who have successfully signed up. (Via NPR)
When it came time for questions, the first was, well, pretty blunt. AP reporter Julie Pace asked the president about his very low poll numbers and approval ratings.
PACE: "Has this been the worst year of your presidency?"
OBAMA: "I got to tell you, Julie, that's not how I think about it." (Via Politico)
Other questions focused on the NSA's surveillance methods. The president said the public needs to re-establish more confidence in the system because he reiterated the nation needs the intelligence for protection. (Via Fox News)
Obama also mentioned he's working on moving forward with immigration reform next year. And when asked what his New Year's resolution is, the president said it was to be nicer to the White House press corps. (Via USA Today)
President Obama now heads off to Hawaii for a two-week vacation with his family.