Obama, Axelrod, Gillespie to Appear on First State of the Union with John King
President-elect Barack Obama, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, Bush White House press secretary Dana Perino and Bush White House counselor Ed Gillespie will all appear on the inaugural broadcast of State of the Union with John King on Sunday, Jan. 18. CNN anchor John King will broadcast live from the Newseum in Washington, D.C., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (ET).
Topics King will discuss with Axelrod, Gillespie and Obama include the ailing economy, national security, the Bush administration’s legacy and the historic nature of Obama becoming the first African-American U.S. president. Additionally, Obama will discuss his relationship with President George W. Bush and share his thoughts on his family’s move to Washington.
Howard Kurtz will join the program with Reliable Sources media analysis. Perino and Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers will discuss their roles during their respective administrations and the challenges the incoming press secretary Robert Gibbs may face. Kurtz will also be joined by CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian and American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April Ryan, who will discuss diversity in the press corps.
King will also host a panel of CNN political contributors and correspondents to discuss the goals and challenges the new administration faces and the hurdles the Republican Party is facing with a Democratic White House and Congress in power. King will gauge the pulse of the country by taking viewers outside of Washington to explore the concerns and tell the stories of everyday American citizens.
CNN’s State of the Union anchor John King traveled today to a manufacturing factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio, to interview President-elect Barack Obama for an exclusive interview before being sworn in as president on Tuesday, Jan. 20. They discussed the historic nature of his upcoming inauguration, the cost of his economic stimulus plan, the federal ban on embryonic stem cell research, press coverage of his two young daughters, his family’s move to Washington and his reluctance to give up his Blackberry. Highlighted excerpts are below, and a full transcript follows. For additional coverage of this story, visit CNNPolitics.com and the CNN Political Ticker.
On the historic nature of being named the first African-American president
OBAMA: You can think about what Washington, DC was like 50 years ago or 60 years ago and the notion that I now will be standing there and sworn in as the 44th president, I think is something that hopefully our children take for granted. But our grandparents I think are still stunned by it and it’s a remarkable moment…
I’m going to try to keep in together, but I will tell you that during the convention, there was a moment at the end of my convention speech where I talk about Dr. King and what he accomplished and the first time we practiced it, I had to stop. I started choking up, because, you know, when you start thinking about is not just your own personal journey. But you think about all the women who walked instead of riding the bus, out in Montgomery and Birmingham and what a moment like this would mean to them and what’s remarkable is some of them are still alive. They’re still there and some of them are going to be standing there at the inauguration.
On the cost of his economic stimulus plan
OBAMA: Here’s what we’re going to have to do. We’ve got distinguish between short term and long term. Short term, the most important thing is to put people back to work. All those folks that you had breakfast with. If they’re working, that means they’re paying taxes. That means that they’re buying goods and services and the economy, instead of being on a downward spiral, starts back up on an upward spiral. But what we also have to recognize is that the deficit levels that I’m inheriting, over $1 trillion coming out of last year, that that is unsustainable. At a certain point, other countries stop buying our debt, but at a certain point, we’d end up having to raise interest rates and it would end up creating more economic chaos and potentially, inflation.
So what we want to do is to say that instead of just printing more money, let’s look at medium term and long term, let’s get a handle on Social Security. Let’s get a handle on Medicare. Let’s eliminate waste in government where it exists. Let’s reform our Pentagon procurement practices. All those things are going to have to be done in concert and that’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough because the only way to do it is if Democrats and Republicans both are willing to give up a little bit of what they consider to be their favorite programs and we’re going to have to look at all this stuff in a fairly short period of time because we’re not going to have five or 10 or 15 years to kick the can down the road. We’ve got to get started right now.
On regrets he may have from remarks made on the campaign trail
Read it on the CNN Political Ticker: Obama says he always thought Bush was a 'good guy'
KING: You spent two years traveling the country saying President Bush was incompetent when it came to domestic leadership, had a debacle of a war in Iraq, and had hurt our image around the world. You've gotten to know him a little bit better during what by all accounts is an incredibly smooth and professional transition. Anything about him you want to take back or any new judgments about him?
OBAMA: You know, I think if you would look at my -- if you look at my statements throughout the campaign, I always thought he was a good guy. I mean, I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country. And I think he made the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances. It does not detract from my assessment that over the last several years we have made a series of bad choices and we are now going to be inheriting the consequences of a lot of those bad choices. That does not mean that I think he's not a good person. And his White House staff has done an extraordinary job in working with us for a smooth transition.
On press coverage of his two young daughters
KING: Where do you draw the line when it comes to my business and your daughters, family?
OBAMA: Well, my hope is that the press is going to be respectful of the fact that growing us is hard enough without doing it in a fishbowl. It would be naive of me, or of Michelle to expect that people take no interest in the girls, but I think the press has a lot of control over this. We've asked them not to follow them around, not to take pictures of them when they're not, you know, with their parents doing something that is a public event. And I hope that folks are respectful of that, precisely because, you know, that folks in the press are parents, as well. And they know the struggles. And even if you're not a parent, you'll remember what it's like being a teenager. And, you know, that can be a painful process, as well.
On his family’s visit to the Lincoln Memorial
KING: What did you talk about, walking around and looking at the president and reading those walls?
OBAMA: This is a good story. I love the Lincoln Memorial at night. It always inspires me. So I take Michelle and the girls. We're looking at the Gettysburg Address. And Michelle's describing what Lincoln's words mean. The fact that these soldiers died on this battlefield means that any words that Lincoln could have said or any of us could have said would ring hollow. They've already consecrated this ground, and what we have to do is to honor them by working for -- for more just -- more justice, more equality here in America. At which point, Malia turns to me, and she says, "Yes, how are we doing on that?"
OBAMA: “…Mr. President-elect.”
KING: Accountability in the house. That’s a good thing.
OBAMA: And then we go and look at the -- Lincoln's second inaugural, which is on the other wall. And Sasha looks up, and she says, "Boy, that's a long speech. Do you have to give one of those?" I said, "Actually, that one's pretty short. Mine may even be a little longer." At which point, then Malia turns to me and says, "First African-American president. Better be good."
On his attachment to his Blackberry
Read it on the CNN Political Ticker: Obama thinks he can keep his BlackBerry
KING: I'll ask you one last question. And it's, in part, silly. But it's not always silly. You like these [King holds up a Blackberry]. I was just with you before this, and you have a couple of them. And there are a lot of people who say, because this will end up in the presidential library, because you don't have privacy any more. Your life's about to change Tuesday noon, you have to give this up.
KING: You going to do it?
OBAMA: I think we're going to be able to beat this back.
KING: Beat this back?
OBAMA: I think we're going to be able to hang onto one of these. Now, my working assumption, and this is not new, is that everything I write on e-mail could end up being on CNN. So I make sure to -- to think before I press "send." But what this has been -- what this does is -- and it's just one tool among a number of tools that I'm trying to use, to break out of the bubble. To make sure that people can still reach me. But if I'm doing something stupid, somebody in Chicago can send me an e-mail and say, "What are you doing?" You know? Or "you seem detached" or "you're not listening to what is going on here in the neighborhood."
I want to be able to have voices, other than the people who are immediately working for me, be able to reach out and -- and send me a message about what's happening in America.
Source: CNN’s State of the Union anchor John King
Here's a clip from that interview:
Finally tonight, Wolf Blitzer was on Ellen earlier this week. Here are a few clips from the program: