WASHINGTON (AP) - Confronting misgivings, even in his own party, President Barack Obama mounted a stout defense of his blueprint to overhaul the economy Thursday, declaring the national crisis is "not as bad as we think" and his plans will speed recovery. Challenged to provide encouragement as the nation's "confidence builder in chief," Obama said Americans shouldn't be whipsawed by bursts of either bad or good news and he was "highly optimistic" about the long term. Obama: Economic crisis 'not as bad as we think' Why would the president cause all this confusion. One day it's the sky is falling and now this. He needs to be a leader.