April 12, 2024

Barack Obama speaks out on politics, life in the White House, and Donald Trump

Published June 11, 2023, 10:20 p.m. by Naomi Charles

In his first television interview since the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President, former President Barack Obama sits down with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King to discuss the first volume of his memoirs, "A Promised Land." He talks about the enormous opposition he experienced as he entered the White House; the impact of his political career on his family; and why he campaigned for his former vice president – and spoke out so vociferously against his successor, President Donald Trump.

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to begin this morning former president

barack obama

as we mentioned it's his first interview

since his vice president

joe biden became the nation's


president obama talks about that and

much more

with cbs this morning's gail king

good to see you the imaginary there you

go good to see you

oh don't lose your mask now almost four

years after he left the white house

we all good we got speed former

president barack obama is ready to talk

let's go he's been looking back while

writing the first volume of a memoir

about his presidency the feeling that i

had entered

not an office but a sanctum of democracy

president of the united states

take us to that day when you walked in

you know inauguration day is a little

bit about

everybody else it's a little bit like

your wedding you're so busy trying to

make sure you're doing everything

right and everybody's where they're

supposed to be that you

can't catch your breath the first time i

walked in

as president by myself though and sat at

the resolute desk i think you feel

a reverence for the office i think it

was president lincoln who said

if you weren't religious before you got

into office you sure

are on your knees praying once you're in

office president barack obama

inherited a country teetering on the

brink of financial calamity

recession if not another depression but

as he tried to work with congress

and immediately encounter a wall of

resistance to deny

president obama a second term we're

going to make you a one-term president

mitch mcconnell said that out loud how

do you deal with that type of hostility

part of what i try to describe is

how early that obstructionist attitude


i mean it started on day one because we

were trying to pass

the recovery act the stimulus package

people were losing their jobs they were

losing their homes and

the economy was collapsing at the time i

thought all right well

obviously republicans aren't going to

agree with me on everything but on this

all the economists agree this is what we

need they'll give

some cooperation on this and we didn't

get any

the american recovery and reinvestment

act eventually did pass

with just three republican senators

voting yes

but the die was cast as the president

then set out to overhaul

the health care system opposition to his


only increased when he addressed

congress in september of his first year

in office

the hostility was overt and it was


one of the big examples that many people

saw of disrespect you're laying out

the affordable care act joint session of


and in the middle of your speech for

congressman joe wilson south carolina

yells in the middle of that

you lie i i heard a audible gasp

and i looked at you you know we could

see the veins on your head on the side

so i'm wondering what did you think in

that moment and what did you want to do

and what did you do

i write about this i know that's why i'm

asking you

i am shocked and my initial instinct is

let me

walk down and smack this guy on the head

what is he thinking

it's not true and instead i just said

that's not true and i

just move on he called afterwards to

apologize although as i point out in the


he saw a huge spike in campaign


from republicans across the country who

thought he had done something heroic

throughout his term president obama was

sometimes criticized

for seeming aloof not playing the d.c

political game

do you think you made enough of an

effort to reach out to the other side of

the aisle

we tried everything we had super bowl

parties we'd invite them to

dinner i'd go to their caucus meetings

the fuss of being president

the pomp the press the physical


all that i could have done without the

actual work though

the work i loved even when it didn't

love me back

as barack obama tried to adjust to the

presidency and the politics

his family was trying to adjust to life

in the white house bubble

there's this weird isolation that you

begin to feel

did you like that feeling no i i don't

think you ever get fully used to it

our conversation wednesday afternoon was

at the smithsonian's national portrait


where a painting of michelle obama hangs

among the first ladies

and that whole political thing

definitely not

her idea she made it clear she was never

into politics

but she always supported you yeah and

there were times when you said when we

do this she goes well wait what

we what we i quote her as saying

not we you i am mindful of the

sacrifices that she made but the good

news is is that um

for whatever reason she has forgiven me

sort of

she still reminds me occasionally of

what she put up with

hello everybody the obamas were one of

the few first families with young

children to have moved into the white


malia was 10 and sasha was only 7 years


the impact on father and daughters cut

both ways

you said you can remember missing teeth

and their round cheeks and their

pigtails that they didn't seem to

suffer in terms of lack of time with dad

but you said you were always very

acutely aware of it

you know i i probably suffered

more from not being able to do

some of the ordinary dad things that i

had done before we got to the white


i'd come from some security briefing in

the situation room and

reading about terrorist threats and this

and that and then i'm sitting down and

malia and sasha

are talking about like ah that boy was

so stupid

you know it takes you out of yourself

and your head and reminds you of

what's good in the world being your

first lady has been the greatest honor

of my life

and i hope i've made you proud the

former president says

as a family left the white house for the

last time in 2017

they were able to exhale michelle obama

in particular

when the presidency was over two things


one was objectively i just had more time

but two

is that she was able to let go of some

of the stress

of just feeling as if i've got to get

everything right all the time i'm being

watched all the time

you know her releasing

her breath that i think she'd been

holding for

close to 10 years at that point now

barack obama can look back on his


and failures he had come into office

facing high expectations

both as the first black president and at

the age of 47

one of the youngest a lot of folks in

the same way that they expected

now we're in a post-racial america

because we elected a black president i

think a lot of people expected

well we've got this young progressive

president and now suddenly we're going

to eliminate

inequality and you know we're

immediately going to have

universal health care and we're going to

have climate change legislation

immigration reform and criminal justice

reform and all the things that i

wanted to get done but what i understood

very early on

is the federal government headed by the


is an ocean liner it is not a speed boat

10 years from now 20 years from now the

work you've done

may be appreciated as having been good

and helpful but at the time it can feel

like wow this isn't happening fast

enough president obama's successor was

donald trump

some have seen mr trump's victory in

part as a backlash to the obama


donald trump often raises eyebrows when

he says he's done more for black america

and people of color

yes it does raise eyebrows you are


i have done more for the

african-american community than any

president since

abraham lincoln what do you think when

you hear that do you take that as an

insult to you

i think it's fair to say that there are

many things he says that i do not

take uh personally or seriously

although i think they can often be

destructive and harmful

president barack hussein obama comes in

whether he took things donald trump said

personally or not

barack obama emerged front and center in

the last month of his former vice

president joe biden's

presidential campaign i've never lost

hope over these last

four years i've been mad and he didn't

pull any punches

i've been frustrated michelle obama

always says when they go low we go high

it seemed to

many people when you were on the

campaign trail for joe biden

trump cares about feeding his ego joe

cares about keeping you safe

and your family safe it wasn't a matter

of going low or high you went in

they called it barack obama unleashed

was it personal for you or did you just


i've had it it wasn't personal actually

you didn't have a i've had it moment

the truth is everything i said i was

just stating facts

you've got a president right now he

wants full credit for an economy that he


he wants zero blame for the pandemic he


it was out of character for you to speak

up mr president that way

i was not the person who in a

white house briefing room said how

is bleach the way to solve covit i

wasn't doing a routine i was repeating

words that i heard it is not my

preference to be out there

i think we were in a circumstance in

this election

in which certain


certain institutional values that

are so extraordinarily important

had been breached that it was important

for me

as somebody who had served in that


to simply let people know this is not

normal this election is over while joe

biden waits to assume the presidency

president trump continues without

evidence to challenge the election's


they're trying to steal an election and

many of mr trump's supporters continue

to stand behind him

72 million people voted for donald trump

what does that say to you about the

state of this country

well what it says is that we are still

deeply divided

the power of that

alternative world view that's presented

in the media that those voters consume

it carries a lot of weight are you

worried about that yes

it's very hard for our democracy to


if we are operating on just

completely different sets of facts

but it's clear as we sit here today

we're not going to have a peaceful

transition i think about john mccain

calling george and laura bush welcoming

you and michelle obama to the white

house could not have been more gracious

i remember you

inviting donald trump to the white house

if you succeed

then the country succeeds i wish that

you succeed because we want the country

to succeed

he does not seem to have taken a page

out of any of those playbooks

no so what is at stake here

well look joe biden will be the next

president of the united states kamala

harris will be the next vice president

there is no legal basis there's getting

support from members of the republican

party who are not challenging him

and that has been disappointing yeah

but it's been sort of par for the course

during these four years

they obviously didn't think there was

any fraud going on because they didn't

say anything about it for the first two

days but there's damage to this

because what happens is that the

peaceful transfer of power

the notion that any of us who

attain an elected office whether it's

dog catcher or president

are servants of the people it's a

temporary job

we're not above the rules we're not

above the law that's the essence of our


and as to advice for his old running

mate he doesn't need my advice

and i will help him in any ways that i

can now i i'm not

planning to uh suddenly work on the

white house staff or something

no cabinet position for you there's

probably some things i would not be

doing because michelle would leave me


she'd be like what you're doing what the

goal of the foundation

what he is doing these days running a

charitable foundation

designing his presidential library in


and along with michelle producing for


gone are the trappings of the office

such as a presidential motorcade

clearing his path

instead barack obama is rediscovering

the simple things i'm driving along i'm

still not driving but you're in the car

but i'm in the car in the back seat and

i'm you know

looking at my ipad or something and

suddenly we stop

and i'm like what's going on

there's a red light there's a car right

next to us some kids or

you know eating a burrito or something

in the backseat oh

and back to life


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