ARNOLD, Mo. – Marking his symbolic 100th day in office, President Barack Obama told Midwesterners Wednesday: "I'm pleased with the progress we've made but I'm not satisfied."
"I'm confident with the future but I'm not content with the present," the president told a town-hall style event in a St. Louis suburb.
Later, the president planned to head back to Washington to press that same message to the rest of the country at a prime time news conference.
Even as his administration sought to minimize the symbolism of the 100-day marker, the White House staged these two high-profile, high-visibility events to promote Obama's accomplishments while pressing his big-ticket agenda.
"We've begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off,:" Obama proclaimed, saying that "we're working to remake America." But he acknowledged, "We've got a lot of work to do."
He countered critics who said he's taking on too much, as he works to turn around the recession while revamping energy, education and health care in the United States.
"The changes we made are the changes we promised," Obama said. "We're doing what we said we'd do."
Earlier, Obama began his day at the White House, where he welcomed Sen. Arlen Specter, the veteran Pennsylvania Republican, to the Democratic Party. The president said he was "grateful" for Specter's decision to switch parties. Vice President Joe Biden, who had long encouraged his former Senate colleague to become a Democrat, also attended.
The president then darted to Missouri to hold what aides billed as a question-and-answer event, though Obama spent roughly 20 minutes making opening remarks in which he touted changes his fledgling administration already has made and other issues it wants to tackle in the coming months.
Obama drew a standing ovation from the crowd as he noted his first 100 days, saying: "That's a good thing." He also hailed the day as "the beginning of another long journey," given the challenges facing a country in recession and wartime.
The president appeared to revel in traveling to Missouri to press his message, even though he lost the state to Republican nominee John McCain last fall.
"It is great to be back in the middle of American where common sense often reigns. This reminds me of why I like to get out of Washington now and again," Obama told his audience.
He promised to fight for everyday Americans, saying: "My campaign was possible because the American people wanted change. I ran for president because I wanted to carry those voices, your voices with me to Washington. You're who I'm working for every single day in the White House. I've heard your stories ... and I don't want to let you down."
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