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President Obama arrives for SoCal visit

March 18, 2009 7:08:55 AM PDT
President Barack Obama received a huge welcome Wednesday afternoon when he arrived in Orange County. He's here talking about his budget and he says he will start trimming the deficit as soon as the financial crisis is under control. The president answered questions at a town hall meeting in Costa Mesa.President Barack Obama made his first trip to California as president and he promised to cleanse the economy of what he called recklessness and greed. He also talked about AIG, calling the bonuses paid to AIG executives who almost destroyed the company "outrageous."

President Obama came into the town hall about 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. He immediately launched into the AIG scandal and took responsibility. He also promoted the stimulus bill, saying it would create 396,000 California jobs in the next two years.

But AIG clearly is on the president's mind.

"And I know Washington's all in a tizzy and everybody's pointing fingers at each other saying it's their fault, the Democrats' fault, the Republicans' fault. Listen, I'll take responsibility. I'm the president," said President Obama.

President Obama also took questions from the audience and made a pitch for passage of his stimulus package. He said it would be hard but will come out of the recession stronger than before and he promised to cut the deficit in half.

Nearly all the questions from the audience dealt with the economy, including one man who lost his job last October.

Thursday morning the president will tour the Edison International Vehicle Electrics plant in Pomona. The focus is on energy-efficient and electric vehicles. Then he's going to attend another town hall at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, and then on to "The Tonight Show" Thursday night before heading back to Washington.

All the tickets for the town hall meeting at the Orange County Fairgrounds were handed out on a first-come, first-served basis on Tuesday morning. All the ticketholders had been waiting at the fairgrounds since Tuesday night just so they could get a good seat.

Tickets for Thursday's town hall meeting have already been handed out as well.

Eyewitness News Reporters Subha Ravindhran and John North contributed to this report.


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