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It took only a few minutes into CNBC’s town-hall-style meeting for President Obama to get questions that cut to the heart of his political problem.

An African-American woman who described herself as a chief financial officer, a mother and a military veteran said she was disappointed that Mr. Obama had not lived up to her once-lofty expectations.

“I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration. … I’m deeply disappointed where we are right now,” she said, adding that when she voted for Mr. Obama, she thought he would change Washington. “I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet. … Is this my new reality?”

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Moments later, a young man offered a similar theme. He noted that the president had ignited a wave of inspiration for young people and students.

“That inspiration is dying away,” he said. “It feels like the American dream is not attainable for a lot of us. … Is the American dream dead for me?”

Together, the comments reflected the erosion of support among the constituency that swept Mr. Obama into office in 2008. And both were rooted in concerns about the struggling economy and its impact on future generations.

Mr. Obama told both attendees to remain hopeful. He defended his administration’s efforts to increase money for student loans, impose new laws on credit card companies and insurance companies, and stabilize the economy.

“I am confident that the American dream will continue,” Obama told the young man, adding that “there is not a country in the world that would not want to change places with us.”

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