Obama has resisted calls to expand U.S. assistance beyond the nonlethal aid the government is providing the rebels. That has frustrated some allies as well as some U.S. lawmakers, who say the deaths of 70,000 Syrians should warrant a more robust American response.
Tuesday's wide-ranging news conference coincided with the 100-day mark of Obama's second term. It's a stretch that has been defined by the defeat of gun control legislation he supported, as well as the continuation of old disputes that marked the president's first four years in office, including the Syria conflict and the launching of his controversial health care overhaul. Asked if he still had "the juice" to get legislation approved, he smiled and paraphrased Mark Twain's famous line, saying, "Rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point."
Another issue that frustrated Obama in his first term resurfaced when he was pressed about the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, the detention center he promised to close but hasn't been able to. Obama said he would make another run at it, though he was vague about how.
"I'm going to go back at this," he said. "I've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I'm going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the American people."
The president also took questions for the first time about the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings that rattled the nation two weeks ago. He defended the FBI's 2011 investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspect who was killed, a probe that resulted in the bureau finding no evidence that he was a threat to the United States.