WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday he inherited much of the country's problems with high debt and deficits when he entered the White House, sounding a theme likely to dominate his 2012 re-election campaign.
Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser, Obama also defended his economic record and noted that problems in Europe were affecting the United States.
"We do have a serious problem in terms of debt and deficit, and much of it I inherited," Obama said. The financial crisis, he said, made the problem worse.
Democrats and Republicans agreed to a deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending last week, but credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States, contributing to a slide in stock markets Monday.
Obama noted that the United States had seen 17 months of consecutive private sector job growth, rising corporate profits and stabilized credit markets under his watch.
"What's absolutely true, even before these last couple days in the stock market, is that recovery wasn't happening fast enough," he said. "When you have problems in Europe and in Spain and in Italy and in Greece, those problems wash over into our shores," he said.
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