UPDATE 2-Obama: Europe should have followed U.S. economic lead

Thu May 10, 2012 5:31pm EDT

SEATTLE May 10 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Europe was still in a difficult place economically in part because it did not take some of the steps the United States did.

Addressing about 70 people at a fundraiser in Seattle, Obama said Europe's troubles were among the factors that could affect U.S. growth, also mentioning high gasoline prices as a potential economic drag.

"We've still got headwinds. Europe is still ... in a difficult state, partly because they didn't take some of the decisive steps that we took early on in this recession," Obama said at the event, which was held in a private home.

"Gas prices are still pinching a lot of folks," he said, referring to the U.S. economy. The housing market is still very weak across the country. But the good news is that we have weathered the storm."

The health of the U.S. economy could be decisive for Obama's re-election prospects on Nov. 6. His likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, has accused the Democrat of lacking the business acumen to steer the United States out of recession and bring down the unemployment rate.

Obama did not specify which economic steps Europe ought to have followed. But a senior administration official said some examples included the United States' early stress tests on banks, requirements that banks bolster their capital cushions and an aggressive early response by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank.