Oct. 22 - Obama touts foreign policy successes in Iraq and Libya as he vows to refocus on the economy. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
U.S. President Barack Obama turned to foreign policy in his weekly address highlighting a U.S. pullout from Iraq and the end of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as success stories. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama, saying (English): "This week, we had two powerful reminders of how we've renewed American leadership in the world. I was proud to announce that -as promised- the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of this year. And in Libya, the death of Muammar Gaddafi showed that our role in protecting the Libyan people, and helping them break free from a tyrant, was the right thing to do." In a message Obama is likely to push in his 2012 re-election campaign, he said his leadership had made it possible to turn the page on a decade of war and refocus on bolstering the U.S. economy and paying down the national debt. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama, saying (English): "As we end these wars, we're focusing on our greatest challenge as a nation --rebuilding our economy and renewing our strength at home. Over the past decade, we spent a trillion dollars on war, borrowed heavily from overseas and invested too little in the greatest source of our national strength-our own people. Now, the nation we need to build is our own." Now, the nation we need to build is our own The emphasis on foreign policy comes as confidence in Obama's stewardship of the economy has fallen sharply, causing his overall approval ratings to slide to around 42 percent, the lowest of his presidency. The killing in May of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by a U.S. Navy Seal team in Pakistan brought only a temporary boost to Obama's poll numbers. Obama mentioned bin Laden in the radio speech and said victories against al Qaeda were "part of a larger story" of success. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama, saying (English): "These successes are part of a larger story. After a decade of war, we're turning the page and moving forward, with strength and confidence. The drawdown in Iraq allowed us to refocus on Afghanistan and achieve major victories against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. As we remove the last of our troops from Iraq, we're beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. " Prominent Republicans have criticized the decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, saying it would embolden neighboring Iran. Some also contend Obama has hurt America's image by pursuing a "leading from behind" strategy on the "Arab Spring" uprisings. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters