President Barack Obama talks Romney, campaign, chili, doodling, shooting pool
In an exclusive interview, ABC7's Scott Thuman spoke with President Barack Obama on a wide range of topics, including whether his GOP challenger Mitt Romney should answer questions about Bain Capital and the 2012 campaign so far. Below is a full transcript of the interview.
Scott Thuman - Mr. President.
President Barack Obama - Thank you so much.
Thuman - Thank you so much for the time.
Obama - Great to see you.
Thuman - Let's talk about enthusiasm first of all. Big crowd today. We still see long lines wherever you go.
Thuman - At the same time, some polling indicates maybe the fire in the belly isn't as intense this time around for some voters, especially young voters, so pivotal for your election.
Obama - Right.
Thuman - Are you worried at all about the novelty wearing off, maybe some enthusiasm drop?
Obama - Well look, 2008, obviously your first time around in some ways it was lightning in a bottle. There were so many young people who just automatically got involved and, you know, we've gone through three and a half tough years. The economy is tough, especially for young people and, yet, what I've been really encouraged about here in Virginia and all across the country, we are still seeing just tons of volunteers getting involved, a lot of passion, a lot of interest. And I think the reason is they understand in some ways this election is more important than 2008. The choice in terms of the direction we want to take the country is very stark this time, so the stakes are big, and I think people wanna finish what we started in 2008.
Thuman - Talk about your first few years. Is there anything you believe you failed at, not because Congress wouldn't play ball, but that rests squarely on your shoulders that has you desperate to get that second term to atone for?
Obama - Yeah, well...look, ultimately when you're president, you're always responsible, even if you've got an uncooperative Congress. We're very proud of the work we did to make sure we didn't slip into a Great Depression, create over four and a half million new jobs, bring manufacturing, including the auto industry, back on its feet. But, there were a lot of things we didn't get done that I think are important, making sure that we get comprehensive immigration reform done. We've done some things administratively, but I've got to help to bring the parties together to do that--
Thuman - But, that's Congressional. What about you? Is there something on your list?
Obama - Well, you know,...the truth is that the things I can do, um, without Congress tend to be in the foreign policy area. And, you know, in that area I have not been able to move the peace process forward in the Middle East the way I wanted. It's something we focused on very early. But the truth of the matter is, that the parties, they've got to want it as well. So, um, we've got a lot of work to do, especially in rebuilding our middle class here in this country but ultimately it's going to require people coming together and Congress working with the executive branch.
Thuman - What about Bain Capital? It's a big issue for the past 24 hours right now, and Mitt Romney's campaign says he left in '99, Yours says it's 2001. There's a significant difference. Is he being dishonest with the American public?
Obama -Well, here's what I know: we were just talking about responsibility and as president of the United States it's pretty clear to me that I'm responsible for folks who are working in the federal government, and you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops with you...now my understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC multiple times that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital. And I think most Americans figure if you're the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does. Ultimately Mr. Romney is going to have to answer those questions because if he aspires to be president, one of the things you learn is you're ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations. But again, that's probably a question that he's going to have to answer and I think that's a legitimate part of the campaign.
Thuman - And you think he should answer that soon?
Obama - Yeah, absolutely.
Thuman - Let's ask you, switch tables here a tiny bit. Talk about the campaign trail. I want to know, what is it you absolutely love about campaigning and what is it you hate? But, you can't say 'being away from your family'.
Obama - Ha ha ha ha. What I love is the interactions with people and you know it's interesting. I think sometimes Washington reporters are surprised when they see me out of Washington and, you know, I'm with folks not just here in Virginia but when you also traveled in Ohio on a bus tour and you're stopping in a local bar or going to a VFW hall or this morning I had a chance to sit down with three incredible military spouses, and it gives you such energy and inspiration to hear about their lives. How they're thinking about their kids, how they're thinking about their futures. They're just good, decent people, and it gives you a lot of optimism. The thing I hate most, other than being away from my family, is sometimes, when you're on the road, you end up eating a lot of stuff that tastes really good at the time but later on in the day can catch up with you, and I'm now getting to the age where being in my own bed as opposed to some other bed, is not always great for my back.
Thuman - It matters! Alright. Sure.
Thuman - Fun question for you.
Obama - Yeah.
Thuman - Here's my fun question you, and I asked your colleague Tim Kaine this a couple weeks ago. I think it always elicits a nice response. Everybody seems to know everything about you, right?
Obama - Right.
Thuman - The books have been written. The documentaries have been made. You're in front of the Klieg lights every single day. I asked him, tell me one thing the voters don't know, that they simply don't know about you. His answer was: I like to go out and camp. I like to be outdoors. I play the harmonica. Frankly, I'm a little boring.
Obama - Ha ha ha ha.
Thuman - What are you?
Obama - Well, you know, it is true. I'm probably a little boring too, but I cook a really mean chili. People don't know this, but Michelle can testify. Now, she'll claim that I haven't cooked it for about ten years, so I shouldn't get too much credit for it. I'm a surprisingly good pool player, so if you ever see me in a pool hall, don't just think that you can...
Thuman - Don't walk up and throw down money is what you're saying?
Obama - That's what I'm saying. I might end up cleaning your clock. That's a possibility. And ... I'm also a pretty good doodler. See folks don't know that about me.
Thuman - What do you doodle?
Obama - You know, I ... all kinds of things. Faces, people. So sometimes when I'm in a big important international meeting and you see me writings stuff down it might be that I'm just drawing some, drawing some folks.
Thuman - It's just Snoopy - not taking notes from Kofi Annan. Is that what it is?
Obama - Ha ha ha ha ha.
Thuman - Mr. President, thank you so much for the time.
Obama - I appreciate it. I enjoyed it. Thank you so much.
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