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Originally published January 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM | Page modified January 22, 2010 at 10:55 PM

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Obama vows to 'never stop fighting'

President Obama, striking a no-retreat, no-surrender posture after his party's defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race this week, vowed Friday to press on with his domestic agenda — including a health-care overhaul and new restrictions on banks — even if it meant he had to "take my lumps" from political critics.

The New York Times

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Seattle Times news services

ELYRIA, Ohio — President Obama, striking a no-retreat, no-surrender posture after his party's defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race this week, vowed Friday to press on with his domestic agenda — including a health-care overhaul and new restrictions on banks — even if it meant he had to "take my lumps" from political critics.

Obama visited the Cleveland suburb of Elyria for the second stop on his White House to Main Street Tour to spread the word that his administration is about jobs, jobs, jobs. With his approval rating down to about 50 percent, a bruising season of midterm elections ahead and Democrats reeling from the Massachusetts loss, Obama sounded unusually defiant, even fiery, at a town hall-style question-and-answer session at Lorain County Community College.

He vowed to "never stop fighting for policies that will help restore home values" and promised he was "not going to stop fighting to give our kids the best education possible." And he pledged to fight for jobs.

"So long as I have some breath in me, so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you," Obama said. "I will take my lumps. But I won't stop fighting to bring back jobs here."

The president's appearance came one day after he picked an especially big fight, with Wall Street, by calling for new limits on banks that would prevent them from becoming too big to fail. He sounded as if he would relish it.

"It's going to be a fight," the president said, warming up to the crowd. "You watch. I guarantee you, when we start on financial regulatory reform, trying to change the rules to prevent what has caused so much heartache all across the country, there are people who are going to say, 'Why is he meddling in government' or 'Why is he meddling in the financial industry? It's another example of Obama being big government.' No, I just want to have some rules in place so that when these guys make dumb decisions, you don't end up having to foot the bill."

Obama also made a plea for the health-care bill, which is in disarray now that Scott Brown, a Republican, has been elected in Massachusetts, depriving Democrats of the 60th vote they need to pass an overhaul.

Conceding the plan had "hit a little bit of a buzz saw this week," Obama said the process "has been less than pretty" and the measure was so big and unwieldy it looked like "a monstrosity," creating fear and anxiety. But he made the case that passing the measure was an imperative. "This is our best chance to do it," the president said. "We can't keep on putting this off."

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