President Obama voiced confidence Tuesday in Europe's ability to "break the fever" of its raging debt crisis as he sought to calm global financial markets and the election-year worries of U.S. voters.
Obama, speaking at the close of the Group of 20 economic summit, said Europe's leaders showed a "heightened sense of urgency" during two days of talks in this Mexican resort. The president maintained that Europe had the capacity to solve the crisis on its own, indicating the United States, still battling its own economic woes, would not be offering any financial pledges to help its international partners.
"Even if they cannot achieve all of it in one fell swoop, I think if people have a sense of where they are going, that can provide confidence and break the fever," he said.
Still, Obama recognized the challenge European nations faced because each country has to separately approve any action to stabilize the fiscal union.
Mindful of voters in the United States, Obama said: "The best thing the United States can do is to create jobs and growth in the short term even as we continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term."
The president, waging a close re-election fight, conceded that he couldn't control the pace of action in Europe despite the repercussions the Continent's debt crisis could have for the U.S. economy and his own prospects in November. "All of these issues, economic issues, will potentially have some impact on the election," he said.
He urged U.S. lawmakers to focus on steps they could take to boost job creation and economic growth, pitching legislation he proposed months ago that has little chance of garnering Republican support in an election year.
Much of Obama's time at the G-20 was devoted to the European fiscal crisis, though he did hold meetings on the sidelines of the international summit to tackle other pressing global concerns, most notably the continued violence in Syria.
He met separately with the leaders of Russia and China, two countries that have blocked U.S. efforts to take action against Syria at the United Nations. He said the two nations are "not aligned" with the United States and other countries on Syria but added that both recognize the dangers of a civil war.
All sides at the G-20 summit seemed intent on sending confident signals to jittery markets and unhappy voters.
Despite the words of unity, European leaders showed signs that they have heard enough about their troubles, particularly from Americans. Memories linger of the 2008 financial crash that was born in the U.S. and destroyed jobs and wealth.
"The eurozone has a serious problem, but it is certainly not the only imbalance in the world economy," Italian Prime Minster Mario Monti said.
He said America's financial problems were mentioned in G-20 talks "by almost everybody, including President Obama."