The White House is employing a trio of defense strategies as it confronts a deepening controversy over the government’s secret harvesting of phone and Internet data.

The goal is fend off Republican attacks while calming the president’s liberal base, which has loudly criticized the administration for embracing the same programs that George W. Bush did.

President Obama touched on several defenses of his administration during a briefing with reporters in California on Friday. The remarks encapsulated the tough optics and rocky politics of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program.

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