US President Joe Biden has said his first year in office has been a year of "challenges" but also one of "enormous progress."
A defiant president acknowledged missteps over the still-raging pandemic but hailed a year of "enormous progress" on the US economy as he took stock of his first year in office.
In a rare news conference marking his first 12 months, Mr Biden touted a period of unprecedented job creation, infrastructure improvements and a growing economy that he said would help counter inflation and supply chain woes plaguing his presidency.
"It's been a year of challenges," Mr Biden told reporters in the ornate East Room of the White House, saying he "didn't anticipate" the level of obstruction he has encountered from Republicans in Congress.
"But it has also been a year of enormous progress," the US leader said.
"We went from two million people being vaccinated at the moment I was sworn in to 210 million Americans being fully vaccinated today. We created six million new jobs - more jobs in one year than any time before."
It was Mr Biden's first news conference of the year - and the first formal such event at all since November.
Mr Biden was set to face questions on everything from the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine and North Korea's missile tests to US inflation, Covid-19 and what he calls a threat to democracy from his predecessor Donald Trump.
The press conference was at the core of an intense new effort by the White House to spin the calamitous last few weeks into a new narrative focusing on what officials say are Mr Biden's many, if overlooked, gains during his first year in the Oval Office.
It came as a new Gallup poll showed Mr Biden with just 40% approval, down from 57% when he started. Since World War II, only Trump's first year averages were lower, Gallup said.
US President Joe Biden says #Covid19 has 'created a lot of economic complications, including rapid price increases across the world economy'. He says the best thing to tackle high prices is a productive economy. https://t.co/d2AEYqcOv5 pic.twitter.com/ESM4SPq8kw— RTÉ News (@rtenews) January 19, 2022
Mr Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki said he has made "a lot of progress" in "incredibly difficult circumstances, fighting a pandemic, a massive economic downturn."
The White House points out that in the last year, unemployment fell to 3.9% from 6.4% at the height of pandemic fallout on the economy and that mass vaccination has been a success, with 74% of adults now fully vaccinated.
However, Mr Biden has faced a string of recent setbacks, including the highest inflation in decades and the Supreme Court striking down the administration's vaccine mandate for large businesses.
The inability of Democrats to use their razor-thin majority in Congress to pass another top Mr Biden priority - voting law reforms that he says are needed to protect US democracy - was highlighted today as the Senate moved to almost certain defeat for two bills.
Mr Biden's press conference came on the eve of the anniversary of his 20 January inauguration, which took place in the extraordinary circumstances of a pandemic and the aftermath of a violent assault by supporters of Mr Trump on Congress to try and overturn Mr Biden's victory.
Now, with a State of the Union speech to Congress set for 1 March, Mr Biden faces the rapidly approaching likelihood of a Republican comeback in midterm congressional elections this November.
Republicans are forecast to crush his party and take control of the legislature.
That risks bringing two years of complete obstruction from Congress, likely including threats of impeachment and a slew of aggressive committee probes.
Mr Trump, who continues to perpetuate the lie that he beat Mr Biden in 2020 and seeks to undermine Americans' faith in their election system, is eyeing a possible attempt at another run at the White House in 2024.
Mr Biden's team hopes that good news will gradually outweigh the pandemic-related gloom, with the economy continuing to rebound, the Omicron coronavirus variant tailing off, and Americans taking notice of achievements, like massive spending on infrastructure.
As White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Politico: "President Biden was elected to a four-year term, not a one-year term."
While Mr Biden does frequently interact with journalists in short, often-hurried question-and-answer sessions at the White House, his lack of full press conferences has raised eyebrows.
Today's event was only the second held at the White House since he took office