Obama: I've Always Been a Populist

Fresh off his State of the Union address, President Obama went to Florida to hold a town hall meeting and laud the award of $8 billion in Recovery Act grants for high speed rail programs across the country.

In doing so he took a shot at the press corps, criticizing coverage that has cast the president as shifting gears to adopt a more populist tone.

"Some journalists have asked in recent weeks, 'Is he trying to change his message? Is he trying to get more populist? Is this a strategy?'" Mr. Obama said.

"I've got some news of my own here," he continued. "I've been working for working folks my entire adult life…and fighting for people all across the United States of America."

The president was responding to coverage such as this post here on Hotsheet, which noted that he used the word "fight" or "fighting" more than 20 times in a speech in Ohio Friday and that he "took an aggressive, populist tone" in his rhetoric.

"The political parties and the media haven't been helping, they've been making it worse," he added later, complaining of the tone in Washington.

The president was relaxed and jovial at the speech in Tampa, which included a town hall-style question and answer section in which he was pressed on U.S. support for Israel and gay rights. He was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, who traveled from Washington on a separate airplane for safety reasons.

"You answer all of the tough questions," Biden said as the question and answer period began, "and I will hold the coat."

Echoing themes from Wednesday night's address, the president was defiant in the face of recent electoral and political setbacks, saying he wouldn't "say nothing and do nothing that offends anybody, and just wave and smile."

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