April 19th, 2011
02:45 PM ET
By CNN's Tom Cohen
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Facing a possible future downgrade of America's credit rating, President Barack Obama on Tuesday told the first of three town hall-style meetings this week that a "big philosophical divide" exists between his approach to deficit reduction and how Republicans think.
The hour-long event at Northern Virginia Community College brought few challenging questions from a mostly student audience that cheered Obama and applauded his major policy statements.
Given such free rein, Obama delivered campaign-style messages that emphasized what he called his balanced approach to reducing federal deficits and bringing down the national debt versus a Republican proposal that the president characterized as unfair to middle-class Americans and vulnerable communities such as senior citizens.