Obama: "I won't pretend" fixing the economy is easy

President Obama speaks during a campaign rally at the Farm Bureau Live arena, on September 27, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Va.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Obama speaks during a campaign rally at the Farm Bureau Live arena, on September 27, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Va.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

(CBS News) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - As the government reported a downward revision in economic growth earlier this year, President Obama used a campaign rally to call for "a new economic patriotism" designed to grow the economy starting with "a strong and thriving middle class."

"I won't pretend that getting there is easy," said the president of restoring the economy.

Addressing an estimated 7,000 supporters at the Farm Bureau Live amphitheater, his 10th campaign rally in Virginia in five months, Mr. Obama again conceded that returning the economy to its previous pre-recession strength will take "a few more years." He said the challenges built up over decades.

He didn't mention the decline in the second quarter gross domestic product from a lackluster 1.7 percent to even more meager 1.3 percent.

But he assured supporters "our problems can be solved, our challenges will be met. We got everything it takes to succeed," he said.

He disparaged Mitt Romney's economic policy as a top-down approach that starts with tax cuts for the rich. Mr. Obama again said Romney's plan "just doesn't add up."

Offering no details, the president called for tax code reform that's "simple and fair." He said Romney thinks it's fair that a person making $20 million a year - like him - pays a lower tax rate than a cop or teacher making $50,000 a year. "I don't think that's fair," he said, even though Romney's tax returns show he paid what the law required for capital gains income, which taxes at a lower rate than wages.

And the president again took a swipe at Romney's "47 percent" remark. "I don't think we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims who never take responsibility for their own lives."

In response to reporters' questions, the White House again today reaffirmed the president's view that the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others was a "terrorist attack."

Mr. Obama hasn't used the word "terrorist" in his public comments on the attack, but spokesman Jay Carney urged reporters not to read anything into that. "This is a terrorist attack."

And of Romney campaign criticism that the president has not used that phrase, Carney called it "an unfortunate attempt" to politicize the issue.

Today's Virginia event is one of the last campaign rallies Mr. Obama has scheduled before next week's first presidential debate. His campaign spokesperson was already engaged in trying to lower expectations for the president's performance against Romney next Wednesday in Denver.

Reporters on Air Force One were told Mr. Obama has not yet had as much debate prep time as was hoped due to the demands of his office. And campaign press secretary Jen Psaki portrayed Romney as preparing for the debate "with more focus than any presidential candidate in modern history."

Psaki was asked to describe the "worst thing" that could happen to Mr. Obama at the debate. "Well, he could fall off the stage."

  • Mark Knoller On Twitter»

    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.