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Obama finally faces media

(NYTIMES) — The following is the complete transcript of President Obama’s press conference on Wednesday in Washington. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat.

I hear you have some questions for me — (laughter) — but let — let me just make a few remarks at the top and then I’ll open it up.

First of all, I want to reiterate what I said on Friday. Right now our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. We’ve got to build on the progress that we’ve made because this nation succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class. And that’s the idea at the core of the plan that I talked about on the campaign trail over the last year — rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs here, not overseas; providing more Americans the chance to earn (sic) the skills that businesses are looking for right now; keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology and clean energy; putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools; and reducing our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.