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Obama at Deficit Town Hall: 'Hopeful' Both Sides Can Come Together

ABC News (file)(ANNANDALE, Va.) -- Kicking off the first of three town halls that will take him from Virginia to California to Nevada over the next three days to sell his plan for deficit reform, President Obama on Tuesday promised to even look under the cushion for couch coins to help “get the nation’s finances in order.”

“I’m not going to quit until we’ve found every single dime of waste and misspent money,” the president said. “We don’t have enough money to waste it right now. I promise you that. We’re going to check under the cushions -- you name it.”

Speaking in front of a student and teacher audience at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., the president tailored his speech from last Wednesday, when he announced a broad vision for deficit reduction, to demonstrate how the cost of doing nothing would cause “serious damage” to the economy and to students who are trying to build a life for themselves.

“Like any student on a tight budget…America has to start living within its means,” President Obama said. “There are powerful voices in Washington; there are powerful lobbies and special interests in Washington. And they’re going to want to reduce the deficit on your backs. And if you are not heard, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

The speech was not a campaign event, but it looked like one. The president’s shirt sleeves were rolled up. He referred to the audience as “voters.”

The president laid into Republicans for their own deficit plan, saying that “the House Republican budget that they put forward, they didn’t just not ask the wealthy to pay more; they actually cut their taxes further.”

“My view is, we need to live within our means while still investing in our future -– cutting where we can while investing in education, investing in innovation, investing in infrastructure, and strengthening the safety net provided by programs like Medicare so that they’re there for this generation and for next generations. “

With an optimistic nod, the president said that he believes that Democrats and Republicans can come together to get this done.

“Shockingly enough, there will be some politics played along the way,” he said. “There will be those who say that we’re too divided, that the partisanship is too stark. But I’m optimistic. I’m hopeful. Both sides have come together before. I believe we can do it again.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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