(Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President Obama took questions on gun violence, debt reduction, and other aspects of his upcoming second term when he held the final news conference of his first term.
Here are some of the highlights:
12:24 p.m. The last question from the news conference touches on the makeup of Obama's second term Cabinet and whether he has done enough to socialize with lawmakers and whether. Obama has faced some criticism that his first four high-profile appointments for his second term have all been white men.
Obama said he's "very proud" that in his first four years he had one of the most diverse administrations in history. He notes that some of the most important players in shaping his first-term agenda were women--Hillary Rodham Clinton at State, Kathleen Sebelius at Department of Health and Human Services, and Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security.
"People can expect that record will be built on," he said. "I would just suggest that everybody wait to see who [else] is on my White house Staff and my Cabinet before rushing to judgment.
MOst people who know me know that I'm a pretty friendly guy. And I like a good party.
12:20 p.m. Obama says the House GOP probably has the votes to follow through on threats to shut down the government as they grapple with the White House over raising the debt ceiling.. But he cautions that it would be a mistake and it would hurt the economy. "I suspect the American people would blame all of Washington," he says. "If the issue is deficit reduction...getting our debt in a sustainable place, the Republicans will have a partner in me."
12:14 p.m. Obama reiterates that he won't negotiate on debt ceiling debate. He says again that he's willing to have a conversation about ways to reduce the deficit, but the debt ceiling must be raised. "We've got to break the habit of negotiating through crisis over and over again," he says.
12:08 p.m. Obama says that he's looking into using executive action to bolster gun control in the aftermath of Newtown school shooting that left 26 dead. He expresses dismay about some gun rights advocates without naming any particular group. "Those who oppose any common sense gun control measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear...There's probably an economic element to that."
12:00 p.m. CBS News correspondent Major Garrett notes to Obama that there are often debates on the debt ceiling. As a senator, Obama even once voted against the raising of the debt ceiling. Obama says he won't have a conversation "every month or every three months conversation about whether or not we pay our bill
11:54 p.m. President Obama invokes twice that the USA is "not a deadbeat nation" as he calls for Congress to raise the debt ceiling. "The issue here is whether or not America pays its bills. We are not a deadbeat nation." He makes the case that Congress should pay for services that have been rendered. "This is not a a complicated concept. ..You don't go out to dinner and eat all you want and then leave without paying the check."
11:47 p.m. Obama's first question is on gun control. The AP's Julie Pace asks about the probability of passing an assault weapons ban. Obama calls on Congress to "examine their own conscience"
11:44 a.m. Obama turns his focus to to his call on Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Not rising it would be a "self-inflicted wound on the economy." He added "To even entertain the idea [of not raising the debt ceiling], it's absurd." Obama lays down a marker for GOP lawmakers on the debt limit. "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy."
11:39 a.m. President Obama starts news conference by declaring, "We are poised for a good year." He also makes case that his administration has made a good start for deficit reduction. He reiterates that he's open to making modest adjustments to Medicare and other entitlements, but we also need more revenue. Americans wants Washington to get our books in order in "a balanced way."
David Jackson and Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY