President Barack Obama laid the groundwork Friday for his last year in office, vowing not to fade into the background but instead to «leave it all out on the field» in 2016.
During a wide-ranging year-end news conference, Obama touted big wins for his administration, citing diplomacy with Iran and Cuba, the passage of significant climate and Asia-Pacific trade deals, as well as a Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage and a congressional rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law.
He also cited that nearly 6 million people have been able to sign up for coverage under his health care law so far this year.
However, the president also said several challenges remain, the main one being the growing threat of the Islamic State group and the possibility of lone-wolf terror attacks, such as the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Obama stressed the need to remain vigilant in the United States even as his administration works with the international community to squeeze the Islamic State group.
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington, Dec. 18, 2015.
«Squeezing ISIL’s heart, its core in Syria and Iraq, will make it harder for them to pump their terror and propaganda to the rest of the world,» Obama said, using an acronym for the militant Islamist group.
«At the same time … we have to remain vigilant here at home,» he said. «All of us can do our part by staying vigilant, by saying something if we see something that is suspicious, by refusing to be terrorized and by staying united as one American family.»
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Amid widespread fears about terrorism and extremists, Obama pushed back against critics questioning his strategy for overcoming the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. «There’s only so much bombing you can do,» he said.
However, he said, «We’re going to defeat ISIS, and we’re going to do so by systematically squeezing them, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing, taking out their leadership, taking out their forces, taking out their infrastructure.»
U.S. President Barack Obama holds his end of the year news conference at the White House in Washington, Dec. 18, 2015.