President Barack Obama said on Friday that European leaders face an "urgent need to act" to resolve the region's financial crisis as the threat of a renewed recession there spells dangers for an anemic U.S. recovery five months before elections.
Speaking a week after a dismal U.S. jobs report, Obama said decisions about how to solve the euro zone crisis are fundamentally in the hands of Europe's leaders and that showing political commitment will be a "strong step."
"They understand the seriousness of the situation and the urgent need to act," Obama told a news conference.
He also urged Congress to pass measures he proposed last September that would create jobs in construction and state and local governments, while noting that private sector employment was looking better.
Obama's remarks on the economy reflect his lack of options on jobs, the number one issue for voters in the Nov. 6 election. Tepid May employment creation that nudged the U.S. jobless rate to 8.2 percent and other recent downbeat data have fanned concerns that a gradual United States recovery might be running out of steam, potentially harming Obama's hopes for re-election.
Obama is locked in a tight race for the White House with Republican rival Mitt Romney, who wants to make the election a referendum on the president's handling of the economy as he touts his own credentials as a successful businessman.
Obama has repeatedly cited the "headwinds" from Europe's sovereign debt crisis as a big reason why U.S. growth is struggling to gain speed. But he has also sought to deflect the blame of voters toward Republicans in Congress for thwarting his proposals to put more Americans back to work.
Republicans fire back by saying they would back sensible proposals but want actions to be paid for to avoid adding to the budget deficit, and they have suggested numerous cuts in federal spending programs that Obama's Democrats find unacceptable.
Obama also criticized those who are calling for a special counsel to investigate his White House over recent security leaks.
Calling it "offensive" and "wrong" to claim his White House deliberately leaked classified information for political gain, Obama said his administration has "zero tolerance" for the leaking of sensitive information.
He says he has sought investigations in the past and will continue to order them.
Lawmakers are investigating recent leaks of sensitive information about the covert drone and cyber wars against terrorism. Republican Sen. John McCain has accused the Obama White House of leaking the information to bolster the president's standing on national security in an election year.
Lawmakers have raised alarms following media reports on White House policy on the highly classified targeting of al-Qaida militants by drones and raids and the deploying of a cyber weapon
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