KWAME HOLMAN: President Obama took on his newly nominated Republican opponent today over health care. The president made a campaign stop near the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He said Mitt Romney would try to repeal the health care reform law and take away coverage for seven million young people, if he’s elected.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He calls my health care law Obamacare. I call his plan Romney doesn’t care.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA: He’s running on the Romney doesn’t care platform. This law is here to stay. The Supreme Court has spoken. We’re not going to refight the battles of the last four years. We are moving forward. That is what is at stake in this election.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KWAME HOLMAN: Today’s stop was part of the Obama campaign’s focus this week on trying to reenergize support among young voters.
Two new reports on the U.S. economy offered small signs of hope. The Commerce Department said growth in the second quarter was slightly better than initially thought. And the Federal Reserve reported moderate expansion in much of the country during July and early August.
But the news barely moved Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained just four points to close at 13,107. The Nasdaq also rose four points to close at 3,081.
There’s been another so-called insider attack in Afghanistan. A man in an Afghan army uniform shot and killed three NATO troops today; 34 such attacks have occurred this year, including at least a dozen in the past month. In all, 45 coalition members have been killed, most of them Americans.
The president of Syria has been heard from again, acknowledging that his military is struggling to beat back rebels. Bashar al-Assad rarely has appeared in public since four of his top security officials were assassinated in mid-July.
He spoke today in a TV interview in Damascus and said his regime will win the Syrian civil war, but not quickly.
PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, Syria (through translator): We are fighting a regional and global war, so time is needed to win it. We are moving forward. The situation is practically better, but it has not been decided yet. That takes time.
KWAME HOLMAN: In other developments, opposition groups reported the death toll has risen to nearly 400, in a massacre by Syrian forces just outside Damascus. They said the bodies are being buried in mass graves.
Elsewhere, video from anti-government activists showed shelling around the country. They said fighting was continuing in the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Hama. The head of the United Nations pressed Syria’s ally, Iran, today to help make peace. Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Tehran and met with Iranian leaders, ahead of a meeting of non-aligned nations. He said Iran has a very important role to play in Syria.
For his part, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, said on his Web site that the solution in Syria is to stop shipping weapons to the rebels.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.