Nation Briefs 02-03-14 Obama and O'Reilly trade barbs during Fox pregame show

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama defended himself against an array of Republican criticism in an interview during Fox's Super Bowl pregame show.

The president traded barbs with interviewer Bill O'Reilly in a live interview that covered his troubled health care law rollout, the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya and revelations that the IRS targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny. "I try to focus not on the fumbles but on the next plan," Obama said.

Obama would not say why he didn't fire Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after the failed launch of the government's online marketplace. He also declined to say that the biggest mistake of his presidency was telling Americans if they liked their health care they could keep it and argued the website is now working the way it's supposed to.

"We've got 3 million people signed up so far. We're about a month behind where we anticipated we wanted to be," Obama said

He defended against O'Reilly's questions about why administration officials initially described the attack in Benghazi, Libya, as a spontaneous mob protest of an anti-Islamic, American-made video. He rejected "the notion that we would hide the ball for political purposes when a week later we all said in fact there was a terrorist attack taking place."

"That wouldn't be a very good cover-up," Obama said.

And he said there was "not even a smidgen of corruption" contributing to the IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.

Calif. couple arrested: A Northern California woman and her boyfriend were arrested Sunday on suspicion of murder in her 3-year-old daughter's death after someone recognized the wanted couple at a restaurant and tipped off authorities. Sara Krueger, 23, and Scott Warner, 26, became subjects of an intense search in the San Francisco Bay Area after officers conducting a welfare check at Krueger's Napa apartment found the child's body in her bed on Saturday, Lt. Debbie Peecook said. A few hours earlier, witnesses had seen Krueger and Warner leaving the apartment with luggage, police said. They were questioned and booked on suspicion of murder with special circumstances and assault on a child resulting in death. Peecook said she didn't know whether they have retained an attorney.

Romney says Olympics will be safe: Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney believes the 2014 Sochi Olympics should be safe, despite threats of terrorism in Russia. "Well there's no such thing as 100 percent security anywhere in the world," Romney told Associated Press on Saturday. "At the Sochi fields of play there will be very adequate security." Romney, chief executive of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, said that the security for the 2014 games is far more intense. He said that Sochi has 40,000 security personnel, which is about 10 times the security at the Salt Lake City games.

Companies back initiative: The White House said it's lined up private support for President Barack Obama's pledge to connect 15,000 schools and 20 million students with high-speed Internet service over the next few years. A White House education event Tuesday will focus on his ConnectED initiative. Chief of staff Denis McDonough, toldNBC's "Meet the Press" that companies are going to commit more than a half-billion dollars so schools have the technology for students to "compete in this economy."

Homeless man "lucky to be alive:" A homeless man was repeatedly bitten and clawed by a mountain lion at a Southern California encampment, but was expected to survive, state game wardens said Sunday. The unidentified man, believed to be in his 50s, was camping near State Route 74 west of Perris late Saturday when he was mauled, California Department of Fish and Game Lt. Patrick Foy said. Foy told the Riverside Press-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/1k1Y4T3) the man didn't know what attacked him, but puncture wounds, bite marks and cuts to his body indicate he was mauled by a big cat. The man was recovering at a hospital after undergoing emergency surgery. "He's lucky to be alive," Foy said.

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