October 6, 2013 12:36:57 AM
WASHINGTON -- Defending the shaky rollout of his health care law, President Barack Obama said frustrated Americans "definitely shouldn't give up" on the problem-plagued program now at the heart of his dispute with Republicans over reopening the federal government.
Obama said public interest far exceeded the government's expectations, causing technology glitches that thwarted millions of Americans when trying to use government-run health care websites.
"Folks are working around the clock and have been systematically reducing the wait times," he said.
The federal gateway website was taken down for repairs over the weekend, again hindering people from signing up for insurance.
Obama, in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, also disclosed that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran continues to be a year or more away from having the capability to make a nuclear weapon. That assessment is at odds with Israel, which contends Tehran is on a faster course toward a bomb.
He expressed optimism about the blossoming diplomacy between his administration and Iran's new president, but said the U.S. would not accept a "bad deal" on the Islamic republic's nuclear program.
The president spoke to the AP on Friday, four days into a partial shutdown of the federal government that has forced 800,000 people off the job, closed national parks and curbed many government services.
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