Iowa Public Television

 

Sen. Barack Obama

posted on November 9, 2007

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Borg: DIFFERENTIATING CHANGE. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA CALLING HIS CAMPAIGN THROUGH EASTERN IOWA THIS PAST WEEK 'CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.' WE'LL QUESTION U.S. SENATOR BARACK OBAMA ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

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ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: SINCE KEYNOTING THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION IN BOSTON, ILLINOIS SENATOR BARACK OBAMA HAS MOVED QUICKLY TO NATIONAL PROMINENCE, NOW ASKING DEMOCRATS TO NOMINATE HIM FOR PRESIDENT. SNAPSHOT POLLING OF IOWA DEMOCRATS LIKELY TO ATTEND IOWA'S FIRST-IN-THE-NATION CAUCUSES IS SHOWING HIM AMONG THE TOP PREFERENCES, ALONG WITH SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON AND FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS. SENATOR OBAMA, THANKS FOR TAKING TIME OUT FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL TO BE WITH US ON 'IOWA PRESS.'

Obama: IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE, DEAN. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Borg: AND YOU'VE SEEN ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THE TWO GENTLEMEN ACROSS THE TABLE HERE. THEY ARE 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR, MOST POLLS, AS DEAN MENTIONED, HAVE SHOWN SENATOR CLINTON BUILDING A SMALL LEAD IN IOWA. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN IOWA, AND WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES IF YOU DO WIN HERE?

Obama: WELL, IOWA IS EXTRAORDINARILY IMPORTANT FOR ALL THE CANDIDATES. IT'S THE FIRST-IN-THE-NATION CAUCUS, BUT IT'S ALSO THE FIRST TIME VOTERS ACTUALLY HAVE A CHANCE TO REGISTER THEIR PREFERENCES. AND I THINK IT'S GOING TO SET THE TONE FOR A LOT OF WHAT HAPPENS THERE, SO WE'RE GOING TO BE WORKING VERY HARD IN IOWA. WE FEEL VERY GOOD ABOUT WHERE THE CAMPAIGN IS. WE'VE BEEN DELIVERING A MESSAGE THAT IT'S NOT JUST ENOUGH IN THIS ELECTION TO RUN THE OLD TEXTBOOK CAMPAIGNS OF THE PAST, THAT WE HAVE TO PROVIDE, NOT ONLY DEMOCRATS BUT INDEPENDENTS AND REPUBLICANS, CHANGE THEY CAN BELIEVE IN. THAT MEANS THAT WE ARE UNITING THE COUNTRY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. IT MEANS THAT WE ARE GOING TO FOCUS ON PUSHING BACK AGAINST THE LOBBYIST CULTURE THAT IS SETTING THE AGENDA IN WASHINGTON. AND IT ALSO MEANS TELLING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THE TRUTH ABOUT BIG CHALLENGES LIKE HEALTH CARE OR ENERGY AS OPPOSED TO JUST TELLING PEOPLE WHAT WE THINK THEY WANT TO HEAR.

Glover: AND WE'LL GET TO THOSE THINGS, BUT THE QUESTION REALLY IS CAN YOU WIN HERE.

Obama: OH, ABSOLUTELY. I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANY DOUBT THAT WE ARE DOING EXTRAORDINARILY WELL. WE ARE CLEARLY IN A HORSE RACE WITH SENATOR CLINTON AND SENATOR EDWARDS. WE'VE GOT A GREAT ORGANIZATION ON THE GROUND. ONE OF THE THINGS I FEEL GREAT ABOUT IS YOU'RE SEEING PEOPLE WHO TYPICALLY HAVEN'T PARTICIPATED BEFORE COMING OUT, AS WELL AS REGULAR CAUCUS GOERS, AND I THINK THAT WILL PAY DIVIDENDS.

Glover: CAN YOU SURVIVE A LOSS?

Obama: WELL, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY WE CAN DO WELL AND NOT NECESSARILY WIN AND STILL CONTINUE ON TO THE OTHER STATES, BUT WE INTEND TO DO VERY WELL IN THE STATE.

Yepsen: SENATOR, LET ME PUT A FINER POINT ON THAT. AS A PRACTICAL MATTER DON'T YOU OR SENATOR EDWARDS HAVE TO BEAT HILLARY CLINTON HERE? DOESN'T SHE START TO RUN THE TABLE IF YOU DON'T STOP HER HERE?

Obama: YOU KNOW, DAVID, I DON'T WANT TO SPECULATE ON EXACTLY WHAT OUTCOMES WILL LEAD TO THE NOMINATION. WHAT I CAN SAY IS THAT IF YOU DON'T DO WELL IN IOWA, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE PROBLEMS CATCHING UP. THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. THAT'S TRUE NOT JUST FOR ME; I THINK IT'S TRUE FOR SENATOR CLINTON AS WELL.

Yepsen: ONE THING WE LIKE TO DO ON THIS PROGRAM IS GIVE CANDIDATES A FREETHROW, LET YOU HAVE A COMMERCIAL, IF YOU WILL. WHY YOU? WHY SHOULD A DEMOCRAT STAND UP FOR YOU ON CAUCUS NIGHT?

Obama: I THINK WE'RE IN A DEFINING MOMENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY. THE NATION IS AT WAR. WE ARE SEEING THE DREAM OF A GENERATION SLIPPING AWAY. PEOPLE ARE WORKING HARDER FOR LESS. THEY ARE HAVING MORE DIFFICULTY SAVING AND RETIRING. SO ORDINARY POLITICS I DON'T THINK WILL ACTUALLY SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS. WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE. WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT ENERGY FOR YEARS, AND NOTHING HAPPENS. WHAT I CAN DO THAT NO OTHER NOMINEE I THINK CAN DO IS TO BRING THE COUNTRY TOGETHER. I'M ABLE TO APPEAL TO REPUBLICANS AND INDEPENDENTS AROUND A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA. I THINK THAT I HAVE A TRACK RECORD THAT IS SUPERIOR TO ANY CANDIDATE IN THAT RACE WHEN IT COMES TO TAKING ON THE LOBBYISTS AND WINNING. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY I THINK THAT I'VE HAD A LEVEL OF CONSISTENCY AND TRUTH TELLING IN THIS CAMPAIGN BUT ALSO IN MY POLITICAL CAREER THAT AMERICA NEEDS RIGHT NOW. THEY DON'T NEED POLL-DRIVEN, POLL-TESTED APPROACHES THAT END UP GOING NOWHERE. WHAT THEY NEED IS SOME, YOU KNOW, HARD HEADED THINKING ABOUT HOW WE'RE GOING TO SOLVE PROBLEMS.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ONE OF THE THINGS I HEAR FROM A LOT OF CAUCUS GOING DEMOCRATS IS THAT AMONG ALL THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES, THERE'S REALLY NOT THAT MUCH DIFFERENCE ON POLICY ISSUES. THEY'RE LOOKING FOR SOMEBODY WHO CAN WIN IN NOVEMBER. SO WHY ARE YOU THE MOST ELECTABLE DEMOCRAT IN THIS FIELD?

Obama: WELL, THE POLLS AND SURVEYS SHOW THAT I AM ABLE TO APPEAL TO REPUBLICANS AND INDEPENDENTS IN A WAY THAT NONE OF THE OTHER NOMINEES CAN, AND THAT MEANS WE CAN WIDEN THE FIELD. IF YOU START OFF WITH HALF THE COUNTRY NOT WANTING TO VOTE FOR YOU, YOU DON'T HAVE A LOT OF MARGIN FOR ERROR. AND WE CAN WIN I THINK IN SUBURBAN AREAS. WE CAN WIN IN STATES LIKE VIRGINIA, AND THAT I THINK IS IMPORTANT, NOT ONLY FOR WINNING AN ELECTION BUT ALSO, MORE IMPORTANTLY, FOR CREATING THE KIND OF WORKING MAJORITY THAT ACTUALLY DELIVERS ON HEALTH CARE, THAT IS ACTUALLY GETTING A NEW ENERGY POLICY. AND I FEEL CONFIDENT THAT THE KIND OF SUCCESS I'VE HAD IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, A BIG DIVERSE STATE, IN ATTRACTING REPUBLICAN AND INDEPENDENT VOTES WILL TRANSLATE NATIONALLY AS WELL.

Borg: A MOMENT AGO YOU USED THE WORDS 'TRACK RECORD' AND YOU RELATED THAT TO TAKING ON LOBBYISTS. BUT STILL, AMONG CAUCUS GOERS YOU STILL HEAR THE RESERVATIONS OF PERHAPS A LACK OF EXPERIENCE IN OTHER THINGS. THAT'S A MATTER OF RESUME. EITHER IT'S THERE OR IT'S NOT. SO HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT?

Obama: WELL, I'VE BEEN IN PUBLIC LIFE FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS NOW, NOT IN WASHINGTON BUT OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON, PROVIDING HEALTH INSURANCE TO PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T HAVE IT, REFORMING CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS THAT WERE BROKEN, MAKING SURE THAT WE PUT TAX BREAKS IN THE POCKETS OF WORKING FAMILIES THAT NEEDED IT AS OPPOSED TO TAX BREAKS TO COMPANIES THAT WERE SHIPPING JOBS OVERSEAS. ON EVER ISSUE THAT'S IMPORTANT TO DEMOCRATS, I'VE WORKED ON IT AND I'VE SUCCESSFULLY WORKED ON IT. AND I'VE BROUGHT PEOPLE TOGETHER AND CREATED COALITIONS TO SUCCEED. I ALWAYS TELL FOLKS WHEN I'M OUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THAT IF THEY WANT SOMEBODY WHO'S BEEN IN WASHINGTON A LONG TIME, I'M OBVIOUSLY NOT THEIR CHOICE. THERE ARE FOLKS WHO HAVE BEEN THERE THIRTY YEARS. IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, WHAT THEY'RE LOOK FOR IS REAL CHANGE AND SOMEBODY WHO'S GOING TO TAKE ON THE CULTURE OF WASHINGTON, THEN I HAVE THE STRONGEST QUALIFICATIONS FOR BRINGING ABOUT THAT CHANGE.

Glover: SENATOR, YOU ARE AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT RUNNING IN A STATE WITH A VERY, VERY TINY AFRICAN-AMERICAN POPULATION. CAN YOU GET A FAIR HEARING HERE? ARE YOU GETTING A FAIR HEARING HERE?

Obama: I AM GETTING A FAIR HEARING AND I WILL GET A FAIR HEARING AND I THINK WE'RE GONNA WIN THIS PLACE, BECAUSE YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE LESS CONCERNED ABOUT RACE AND MUCH MORE CONCERNED ABOUT IS THIS SOMEBODY WHO IS REALLY GOING TO BE FIGHTING FOR ME, IS THIS SOMEBODY WHO IS GOING TO MAKE SURE THAT MY LIFE IS A LITTLE BIT BETTER. I JUST HAD A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH A GROUP OF WOMEN. YOU LISTEN TO THEIR STORIES -- YOU'VE GOT A SINGLE MOTHER WHO IS TRYING TO GO TO SCHOOL AT THE SAME TIME AS SHE'S WORKING, JUST LIKE MY MOTHER DID. SHE CAN'T EVEN THINK ABOUT SAVING. SHE'S NOT GETTING ANY HELP WHEN IT COMES TO DAY CARE BECAUSE SHE WORKS A LITTLE TOO MANY HOURS TO GET -- TO GET A SUBSIDY. STORIES LIKE THAT EXIST ALL ACROSS IOWA. AND IF PEOPLE FEEL THAT I CAN DELIVER FOR THEM, THEN I THINK WE'RE GOING TO DO WELL. IF THEY FEEL THAT, YOU KNOW, I CAN MAKE THEIR LIVES A LITTLE BIT BETTER, THE LAST THING THEY'RE GOING TO BE THINKING ABOUT IS MY RACE.

Glover: YOU THINK THE STATE HAS MOVED BEYOND THAT?

Obama: WHAT'S THAT?

Glover: YOU THINK THE STATE HAS MOVED BEYOND THAT.

Obama: I DO. LOOK, THERE'S NO DOUBT THAT RACE IS ALWAYS A FACTOR IN AMERICAN SOCIETY. THERE'S NO DENYING THAT. BUT I THINK WE'VE MADE ENORMOUS PROGRESS IN A GENERATION, CERTAINLY SINCE I WAS BORN IN THE EARLY '60S, AND I THINK THAT PEOPLE RIGHT NOW ARE MUCH MORE CONCERNED WITH WHO'S GOING TO LOOK OUT FOR THEM, WHO'S GOING TO FIGHT FOR THEM, WHO'S GOING TO BRING ABOUT THE KIND OF CHANGE THAT'S NEEDED IN WASHINGTON.

Yepsen: SO IF YOU DON'T DO WELL IN THE CAUCUSES, WE'RE NOT GOING TO HEAR DAVID AXELROD AND ROBERT GIBBS AND ALL YOUR SPINNERS TELLING US, WELL, BARACK OBAMA DIDN'T DO WELL IN IOWA BECAUSE IT'S A LILY WHITE STATE? I JUST WANT TO LAY THAT DOWN.

Obama: LOOK, WE HAVE INVESTED IN IOWA. I HAVE BEEN CAMPAIGNING ACTIVELY IN IOWA. WE EXPECT TO DO WELL IN IOWA.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU SAY, SENATOR, TO THOSE DEMOCRATS WHO VERY QUIETLY, BECAUSE IT'S NOT EASY TO TALK ABOUT RACE IN POLITICS, WHO SAY WE'RE NOT SURE BARACK OBAMA CAN WIN BECAUSE A LOT OF VOTERS AREN'T READY TO VOTE FOR A BLACK MAN IN AMERICA?

Obama: YOU KNOW, I HEARD THIS WHEN I WAS RUNNING FOR THE U.S. SENATE. ILLINOIS IS 12 PERCENT AFRICAN-AMERICAN. IT'S NOT A MAJORITY AFRICAN-AMERICAN STATE OR EVEN A SUBSTANTIAL PLURALITY AFRICAN-AMERICAN STATE. AND PEOPLE SAID THERE'S NO WAY THAT FOLKS DOWN STATE ARE GOING TO VOTE FOR YOU. AND DOWN-STATE ILLINOIS IS PRETTY SIMILAR TO IOWA CULTURALLY AND DEMOGRAPHICALLY. WE ENDED UP WINNING THAT PRIMARY BY 20 POINTS. WE WON THE WHITE VOTE. WE WON THE RURAL VOTE. WE WON THE FARMER VOTE. THERE WASN'T A VOTE WE DIDN'T WIN AGAINST STRONG CANDIDATES, ONE WHO SPENT $30 MILLION, ANOTHER WHO WAS THE SITTING STATE COMPTROLLER AND WAS A VERY POPULAR ELECTED OFFICIAL, AND WE BEAT THEM. SO I'VE HEARD THIS BEFORE. I THINK IT GIVES THE VOTERS TOO LITTLE CREDIT, AND WE'RE CONFIDENT THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO WELL.

Yepsen: I WANT TO TALK ABOUT YOUNGER VOTERS. YOU HAVE PUT A LOT OF EFFORT INTO ATTRACTING YOUNGER DEMOCRATS, YOUNGER ACTIVISTS. YOU SEE IT IN YOUR CROWDS, BIG CROWDS, A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE, YET HISTORICALLY THESE PEOPLE JUST DON'T TURN OUT. OUR POLLING SHOWS THAT ONLY 2 PERCENT OF THE LIKELY DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS GOERS ARE UNDER AGE 25. SO HOW ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE THIS WORK? WHY ARE YOU THE GUY THAT'S GOING TO ATTRACT YOUNG PEOPLE TO THE CAUCUSES IN A WAY THAT THEY'VE NEVER BEEN THERE BEFORE?

Obama: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE'RE NOT BANKING JUST ON YOUNG VOTERS. WE'RE GOING AFTER THE TRADITIONAL IOWA CAUCUS GOER. WE'VE HEARD AGAIN AND AGAIN HOW, YOU KNOW, IF PEOPLE HAVEN'T GONE TO CAUCUS BEFORE, THEY'RE NOT LIKELY TO COME FOR THE FIRST TIME. WE UNDERSTAND THAT AND WE ARE PAYING ATTENTION TO THAT. I DO THINK THIS ELECTION IS DIFFERENT IN THE SENSE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THE BIG CHALLENGES THAT ARE COMING UP. THEY KNOW THE CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL AND NOBODY IS DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT. THERE IS NOT A YOUNG PERSON HERE WHO'S NOT DEALING WITH THE COST OF COLLEGE. I WAS UP IN AMES; THE AVERAGE COST FOR STUDENTS OUT THERE WHEN THEY GRADUATE, THEY'VE GOT $27,000 IN GET DEBT, AVERAGE. SO THEY FEEL VERY ACUTELY SOME OF THE PROBLEMS. THEY'VE GOT FRIENDS WHO ARE IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. I THINK THEY ARE GOING TO BE MORE MOTIVATED THAN THEY'VE BEEN IN THE PAST. WE'RE NOT BANKING ON THEM IN ORDER TO WIN, BUT I DO THINK THAT YOU'RE STARTING TO SEE YOUNG PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION TO SOME LONG-TERM ISSUES THAT THEY FEEL WASHINGTON HAS NEGLECTED.

Glover: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE NATIONAL MOOD, IF YOU WOULD. THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM AMONG THE PUNDITS IS THAT NEXT YEAR IS GOING TO BE A PRETTY GOOD DEMOCRATIC YEAR. THERE'S AN UNPOPULAR WAR OUT THERE. PRESIDENT BUSH IS NOT TERRIBLY POPULAR. BUT WHEN YOU START LOOKING AT A MATCH-UP BETWEEN SOME OF THE LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES AND THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES, IT'S PRETTY CLOSE.

Obama: RIGHT.

Glover: WHAT KIND OF A YEAR ARE WE LOOKING AT? IS IT A DEMOCRATIC YEAR? A REPUBLICAN YEAR?

Obama: I THINK THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT DEMOCRATS HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO, AS I SAID BEFORE, CREATE A NEW MAJORITY, TO GO BEYOND THE FIFTY PLUS ONE STRATEGIES THAT WE'VE SEEN WHERE THE WHOLE FIGHT IS IN OHIO AND FLORIDA AND YOU EKE OUT A VICTORY OR YOU DON'T. I THINK THAT WE CAN GO BEYOND THAT. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS I'M RUNNING IS BECAUSE I THINK I CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT OPPORTUNITY. BUT THERE ARE SOME DANGERS FOR DEMOCRATS IF WE DON'T PROVIDE THE KIND OF BOLD LEADERSHIP AND HONEST LEADERSHIP THAT'S NEEDED TO DO ADVANTAGE. REPUBLICANS AND INDEPENDENTS I THINK HAVE BECOME SO DISILLUSIONED WITH GEORGE BUSH, THEY'RE READY TO LISTEN. BUT THEY'VE GOT TO HEAR THAT WE'RE SERIOUS ABOUT SOME OF THESE ISSUES, THAT WE'RE NOT JUST PANDERING TO OUR OWN SPECIAL INTERESTS AND OUR TRADITIONAL BASES, BUT THAT WE'RE WILLING TO ALSO TALK TOUGH. YOU KNOW, WHEN I WENT TO -- WHEN I PROPOSED, FOR EXAMPLE, RAISING FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS ON CARS, I DIDN'T DO IT IN FRONT OF THE SIERRA CLUB. I WENT TO DETROIT IN FRONT OF THE AUTO MAKERS AND AUTO WORKERS, AND THAT I THINK COMMUNICATED THE FACT THAT I'M SERIOUS ABOUT THIS ISSUE. THAT'S THE WAY I THINK DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO DO WELL COME NOVEMBER OF '08.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THIS RACE THAT MAKES YOU APPEAL TO INDEPENDENTS AND REPUBLICANS THAT YOUR RIVALS DON'T? WHAT QUALITY IS IT?

Obama: WELL, PART OF IT I THINK IS TONE. IT HAS TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT HISTORICALLY I'VE BEEN SOMEBODY WHO'S ABLE TO DISAGREE WITHOUT BEING DISAGREEABLE; THAT I DON'T ASSUME THAT REPUBLICANS ARE BAD; I DON'T ASSUME THE DEMOCRATS ARE ALWAYS VIRTUOUS; I DON'T THINK THAT WE'VE GOT A MONOPOLY ON WISDOM; AND I'M WILLING TO LISTEN TO DIFFERENT IDEAS. AND THAT NONIDEOLOGICAL APPROACH TO POLITICS, YOU KNOW, COMING TOGETHER, SETTING SOME GOALS, AND THEN BEING PRACTICAL ABOUT HOW DO WE SOLVE PROBLEMS, I THINK THAT IS A STYLE OF POLITICS THAT I'VE ADOPTED EVER SINCE I GOT INTO THE STATE LEGISLATURE IN ILLINOIS.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO BACK UP AND TAKE A BROADER LOOK AT SOME THINGS. THE DOLLAR IS AT A RECORD LOW AGAINST THE EURO. THE IRAQ WAR CONTINUES. THE STOCK MARKET IS FALLING. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IRAN, AND OIL IS APPROACHING $100 A BARREL. AMERICANS ARE IN A PRETTY DOWN MOOD. WHAT WOULD YOU DO AS PRESIDENT TO RESTORE SOME OPTIMISM IN THIS COUNTRY?

Obama: WELL, I THINK, STEP ONE, WE HAVE TO BRING THIS WAR IN IRAQ TO A CLOSE. I THINK IT HAS BEEN AN ENORMOUS DRAIN, OBVIOUSLY, ON THE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE SERVING, IN THE WOUNDS AND THE DEATHS THAT HAVE BEEN SUFFERED THERE. BUT WE'RE ALSO SPENDING $10- TO $12 BILLION A MONTH. THAT IS PUTTING AN ENORMOUS STRAIN ON OUR FISCAL SITUATION HERE AT HOME. IT PREVENTS US FROM REINVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE. AND IT HAS REALLY HURT OUR REPUTATION AROUND THE WORLD. SO WE CAN GET OUR COMBAT TROOPS OUT IN ABOUT SIXTEEN MONTHS, AT THE PACE OF ONE TO TWO BRIGADES A MONTH. IF WE DO THAT, I THINK WE CAN THEN SET A NEW TONE OF LEADERSHIP AROUND THE WORLD, SAYING WE WANT TO WORK WITH THE WORLD ON CRITICAL ISSUES LIKE NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION, BUT WE'RE ALSO GOING TO WORK TO IMPROVE PUBLIC HEALTH IN PLACES LIKE SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, BUILD SCHOOLS IN THE MIDDLE EAST. THAT WHOLE TONE OF LEADERSHIP AROUND THE WORLD WILL NOT ONLY, I THINK, HELP OUR FOREIGN POLICY, IT WILL HELP OUR ECONOMY. ONE OF THE REASONS THAT WE'VE GOT OIL AT CLOSE TO $100 A BARREL IS BECAUSE OF THE SABER-RATTLING THAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN ENGAGING IN WITH RESPECT TO IRAN. ABOUT A THIRD OF THAT COST IS REALLY THE SPOT MARKET SAYING THERE MAY BE WAR. AND IF WE CAN LOWER THE TEMPERATURE, LOWER THE RHETORIC, THAT CAN ALSO IMPROVE OUR ECONOMY. AND IF WE HAVE A NEW PROGRAM OF REINVESTING IN THE AMERICAN WORKER AND SAYING TO PEOPLE IN AMERICA, YOU COUNT, WASHINGTON'S THINKING ABOUT YOU, WE ARE GOING TO INVEST IN YOUR EDUCATION, WE'RE GOING TO INVEST IN BROADBAND LINES, THOSE KINDS OF -- THAT SENSE OF OPTIMISM AND MOVEMENT WHERE WE'RE NOT JUST PASSIVELY WATCHING AS THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO US, BUT INSTEAD WE'RE ACTING FORCEFULLY TO MEET A FUTURE THAT RIGHT NOW IS UNCERTAIN, I THINK THAT'S THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP WE NEED FROM WASHINGTON.

Yepsen: BUT, SENATOR, ONE OF THE THINGS I FORGOT TO MENTION IN THIS LITTLE LITANY IS CHINESE OFFICIALS ARE SAYING WE MIGHT NOT WANT TO BE BUYING ANY MORE AMERICAN DEBT. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR THIS? THE NATIONAL DEBT IS AT NINE TRILLION DOLLARS NOW AND HEADED NORTH. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THESE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO?

Obama: WELL, $10- TO $12 BILLION PER MONTH, $196 BILLION JUST FOR NEXT YEAR'S REQUEST ALONE, THAT'S A BIG CHUNK OF CHANGE. SO IF WE CAN PHASE DOWN THE WAR IN IRAQ, THAT'S GOING TO START HELPING US ON THE MONEY FRONT. I DO THINK THAT WE'VE GOT TO CREATE A MORE EFFICIENT WASHINGTON. I HAVE CALLED FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. AND WHEN IT COMES TO THINGS LIKE EARMARKS, WE HAVE TO PRIORITIZE HOW WE'RE SPENDING MONEY IN WASHINGTON. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK IS IMPORTANT FOR DEMOCRATS TO COMMUNICATE IS, JUST BECAUSE I'M A PROGRESSIVE AND I BELIEVE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION SPENDING AND I BELIEVE IN AFTER-SCHOOL SPENDING AND I BELIEVE IN A LOT OF THESE PROGRAMS, DOESN'T MEAN I DON'T THINK THERE'S WASTE IN GOVERNMENT. I JUST THINK WE'RE SPENDING IT IN THE WRONG PLACES. AND WE'VE GOT TO GO AFTER NO BIG CONTRACTS TO HALLIBURTON. WE'VE GOT TO CLOSE CORPORATE LOOPHOLES WHERE YOU'VE GOT COMPANIES IN THE -- YOU'VE GOT A BUILDING IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS WHERE 12,000 COMPANIES SUPPOSEDLY ARE LOCATED. NOW, THAT'S EITHER THE BIGGEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD OR THE BIGGEST TAX RIPOFF IN THE WORLD, AND WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Borg: AS YOU PHASE DOWN, AS YOU SAID, THAT WAR IN IRAQ, ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO PHASE UP AFGHANISTAN?

Obama: I THINK THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SEND A COUPLE OF ADDITIONAL BRIGADES INTO AFGHANISTAN TO HELP SHORE UP WHAT HAS BEEN A DECLINING SECURITY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN. WE ALSO, THOUGH, HAVE TO RAMP UP THE NONMILITARY EFFORTS OF RECONSTRUCTION IN AFGHANISTAN. YOU KNOW, YOU TALK TO GENERALS WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH WHAT'S HAPPENING IN AFGHANISTAN. THEY SAY WE NEED AGRICULTURAL SPECIALISTS AS MUCH AS WE NEED AN ADDITIONAL PLATOON BECAUSE WE'VE GOT TO TEACH FARMERS TO GROW THINGS OTHER THAN HEROIN POPPY. WE'VE GOT TO GIVE THEM ROADS AND INFRASTRUCTURE THAT ALLOWS THEM TO DEVELOP ECONOMICALLY. THAT'S THE KIND OF INVESTMENT THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE IF WE'RE GOING TO STABILIZE AFGHANISTAN.

Glover: THE PREMISE OF ONE OF MY EARLIER QUESTIONS WAS THE UNPOPULARITY OF PRESIDENT BUSH, BUT CONGRESS IS RATED PRETTY LOW IN POLLING AS WELL. AND IT'S ARGUED THAT DEMOCRATS GOT CONTROL OF CONGRESS BY CAMPAIGNING ON A NUMBER OF ITEMS, NONE OF WHICH HAVE HAPPENED. WHY SHOULDN'T VOTERS BEING PRETY CYNICAL ABOUT THAT?

Obama: WELL, I'M NOT SURE NONE OF THEM HAVE HAPPENED. I MEAN ETHICS REFORM -- I WAS ONE OF THE LEADERS IN ETHICS REFORM AND WE PASSED THE TOUGHEST ETHICS REFORM SINCE WATERGATE, ELIMINATING MEALS AND GIFTS AND CORPORATE JETS FOR LOBBYISTS AND DISCLOSING BUNDLING. THAT'S SOMETHING THAT I TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN. WE HAVE MADE PROGRESS ON THE MINIMUM WAGE. THERE ARE A SERIES OF STEPS THAT I THINK HAVE BEEN -- MADE COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE THAT ARE SIGNIFICANT. YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, THOUGH, THAT ON IRAQ WE HAVE NOT MADE PROGRESS, SIMPLY BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO CONVINCE ENOUGH REPUBLICANS TO SHIFT OFF OF THE FAILED COURSE OF GEORGE BUSH. THAT IS A FRUSTRATION FOR DEMOCRATS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO MOVE AGGRESSIVELY ON HEALTH CARE BECAUSE, AGAIN, WE REQUIRE 60 VOTES IN THE SENATE. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I INTEND TO DO AS THE NOMINEE IS TO HELP US PICK UP MORE SEATS IN A DEMOCRATIC SENATE SO THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY MOVE THINGS THROUGH THE SENATE AND I CAN SIGN LEGISLATION THAT I THINK IS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

Yepsen: YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT MONEY IN POLITICS A LOT BUT YET -- AND DURING YOUR CAREER YOU'VE TAKEN MONEY FROM PEOPLE CONNECTED WITH VARIOUS SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. WHY ARE YOU BETTER ON MONEY ISSUES THAN ANY OF YOUR OPPONENTS?

Obama: I'VE CONSISTENTLY SAID, DAVID, THAT, YOU KNOW, I'M NOT SINLESS IN THIS PROCESS. YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE IN POLITICS, PARTICULARLY NATIONAL POLITICS, YOU'VE HAD TO RAISE MONEY. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT MY TRACK RECORD, NOT ONLY DO I NOT TAKE FEDERAL REGISTERED LOBBYIST MONEY AND PAC MONEY IN THIS CAMPAIGN, BUT I HAVE CONSISTENTLY FOUGHT FOR AND SUCCESSFULLY ACHIEVED REFORMS IN HOW WE -- HOW WE DEAL WITH MONEY IN POLITICS. THE FIRST PIECE OF LEGISLATION -- MAJOR PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT I PASSED IN THE ILLINOIS SENATE WAS A CAMPAIGN ETHICS REFORM BILL, THE FIRST IN 25 YEARS. AND THAT WAS RESISTED NOT JUST BY REPUBLICANS BUT BY SOME OF MY OWN DEMOCRATIC LEADERS. SO I'VE GOT A TRACK RECORD OF ACTUALLY PASSING LEGISLATION THAT CURBS THE INFLUENCE OF MONEY IN POLITICS, AND THAT'S SIMPLY NOT TRUE FOR SOME OF THE OTHER MAJOR CANDIDATES ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE.

Glover: DAVE HAS TICKED OFF SOME MAJOR PROBLEMS FACING THE COUNTRY. IF IN FACT YOU'RE SUCCESSFUL IN WINNING THE WHITE HOUSE, AREN'T YOU GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE SOME DEEPLY DIFFICULT AND UNPOPULAR DECISIONS PRETTY EARLY ON?

Obama: YES. I THINK THAT -- WELL, LET ME SAY THAT I THINK THEY WILL BE DIFFICULT. IF THEY ARE EXPLAINED PROPERLY, THEY MAY NOT BE UNPOPULAR. HERE ARE MY PRIORITIES IN THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS. ENDING THE WAR IN IRAQ, WHICH MEANS THAT WE'VE GOT TO CALL IN THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF AND FIGURE OUT HOW CAN WE SAFELY AND CAREFULLY, RESPONSIBLY START REMOVING OUR COMBAT TROOPS AND INITIATING THE KIND OF DIPLOMACY INSIDES OF IRAQ AND REGIONALLY THAT IS NECESSARY. NUMBER TWO, GET A PROCESS GOING WHERE WE ARE PROVIDING HEALTH CARE COVERAGE FOR ALL AMERICANS, AND THAT'S GOING TO BE A TRANSPARENT, OPEN PROCESS. WE'RE NOT GOING TO REPEAT THE MISTAKES OF THE 1993 EFFORT, WHERE EVERYTHING WAS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. THIS IS GOING TO BE AN OPEN PROCESS. EVERYBODY IS GOING TO HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE, AND WE ARE GOING TO HAVE LEGISLATION INTRODUCED BY THE END OF THE YEAR THAT ACHIEVES UNIVERSAL COVERAGE. AND THE THIRD THING IS REALLY STARTING TO WORK EXTENSIVELY ON ENERGY. THIS IS A GROWING CRISIS. AND WE HAVE TO START REALLY RAMPING UP OUR INVESTMENT IN SOLOR AND WIND AND BIODIESEL. I WAS IN KEOKUK -- THEY JUST GOT A NEW PLANT THERE, 400 WELL-PAYING JOBS, BUILDING WIND TURBINES. THAT'S THE KIND OF POTENTIAL FUTURE FOR AMERICA AND RURAL AMERICA THAT'S AVAILABLE TO US, BUT WE'VE GOT TO HAVE LEADERSHIP FROM THE WHITE HOUSE TO DO IT.

Yepsen: FOLLOWING ON MIKE'S QUESTION. YOU'VE EARNED THE REPUTATION IN THE CAMPAIGN FOR SOMETIMES SAYING THINGS THAT PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO HEAR. I REMEMBER YOU CALLING TEACHERS, SAYING MERIT PAY MIGHT NEED TO BE ON THE TABLE IN AMERICA. YOU TOLD PEACE ACTIVISTS THAT, NO, WE MAY IN FACT HAVE TO SPEND MORE TO REBUILD THE MILITARY THAT'S BEEN WRECKED IN IRAQ. YOU JUST MENTIONED GOING TO DETROIT AND TELLING -- GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT YOU WILL TELL AMERICANS THAT WE DON'T NECESSARILY WANT TO HEAR.

Obama: WELL, NUMBER ONE, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO START DOING A BETTER JOB OF CONSERVING ON ENERGY. AMERICANS LIKE TO DRIVE THEIR BIG SUVs. THEY LIKE TO LEAVE ALL THE LIGHTS ON IN THEIR HOUSE. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE OUR HABITS. IF WE WANT TO DEAL WITH THE CLIMATE CHANGE, WHICH I THINK WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH -- WE'RE SEEING ALREADY DOWN IN THE SOUTHEAST, THEY'RE SEEING DROUGHT THAT THEY HAVEN'T SEEN IN A VERY LONG TIME. WESTERN STATES, SAME PROBLEM. IT IS INDISPUTABLE THAT THE CLIMATE IS GETTING WARMER. THAT'S GOING TO AFFECT FARMERS. IT'S GOING TO AFFECT ORDINARY FOLKS. IF WE WANT TO DO SOMETHING SERIOUS ABOUT THAT, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE PAINLESS. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CAP THE EMISSION OF GREENHOUSE GASSES. THAT MEANS THAT POWER PLANTS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO ADJUST HOW THEY GENERATE POWER. THEY WILL PASS ON THOSE COSTS TO CONSUMERS. WE WILL HAVE TO GUARD AGAINST LOWER INCOME AND FIXED INCOME INDIVIDUALS HAVING TO PAY MORE FOR ELECTRICITY, BUT A LOT OF US WHO CAN AFFORD IT ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY MORE PER UNIT OF ELECTRICITY, AND THAT MEANS WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CHANGE OUR LIGHT BULBS, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SHUT THE LIGHTS OFF IN OUR HOUSES. AND THOSE ARE ADJUSTMENTS THAT WON'T OVER THE LONG TERM AFFECT OUR STANDARD OF THE LIVING, BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT WE'VE GOT TO SHOW SOME RESPONSIBILITY TO THE NEXT GENERATION, SOMETHING WE HAVEN'T BEEN DOING.

Glover: HOW DO YOU CONVINCE PEOPLE TO CHANGE THEIR LIFESTYLE, TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY? OR TO TURN THE QUESTION ON ITS EAR, ARE VOTERS AHEAD OF THE POLITICIANS ON THIS KIND OF STUFF? DO THEY GET IT AND THE POLITICIANS DON'T?

Obama: WELL, I THINK THAT VOTERS DO UNDERSTAND IT. I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO SEND SOME PRICE SIGNALS TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR, YOU KNOW. IF ELECTRICITY GOES UP, PEOPLE START BECOMING MORE MINDFUL OF THEIR ELECTRICITY BILL. OVER TIME THE ELECTRICITY BILL GOES BACK DOWN AS TECHNOLOGY CATCHES UP. BUT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO, I THINK, MAKE SOME CULTURAL SHIFTS. I'LL GIVE YOU ANOTHER EXAMPLE, EDUCATION. YOU KNOW, I ALWAYS GO INTO INNER CITY SCHOOLS, AND I WILL SAY WE NEED TO GET YOU MORE MONEY. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE CRUMBLING SCHOOLS. IT'S NOT AS BAD IN IOWA BUT IN PLACES LIKE SOUTH CAROLINA, YOU'VE GOT SCHOOLS THAT WERE BUILT IN THE 1890S THAT ARE STILL BE UTILIZED, AND NO COMPUTERS, OUTDATED BOOKS. ALL OF THAT IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR. BUT I ALWAYS TELL PARENTS IF WE DON'T PARENT, IF WE DON'T TURN OFF THE TELEVISION SET, IF WE DON'T PUT ASIDE THE VIDEO GAMES, IF PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT KIDS IN CHINA AND KIDS IN INDIA ARE OUTWORKING OUT AND STUDYING MATH AND SCIENCE IN A WAY THAT OUR KIDS ARE NOT DOING, IF PARENTS AREN'T INSTILLING A SENSE OF EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE, WE'RE GOING TO FALL BEHIND. AND I THINK THE PRESIDENT HAS TO COMMUNICATE THAT SHIFT IN ATTITUDE AND SHIFT IN CULTURE IF WE'RE REALLY GOING TO IMPROVE OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE ONLY GOT ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT. WHAT THOUGHTS DO YOU WANT DEMOCRATIC ACTIVISTS TO CARRY WITH THEM ABOUT YOU AS THEY HEAD OUT ON CAUCUS NIGHT? WHAT SHOULD THEY REMEMBER?

Obama: WHAT I WANT THEM TO REMEMBER IS THAT I'VE SPENT OVER TWO DECADES FIGHTING FOR THE CORE VALUES OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. I FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY AS A CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER. I FOUGHT FOR THE CONSTITUTION AS A CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR. I HAVE FOUGHT TO MAKE SURE THAT ORDINARY WORKING FAMILIES HAVE HEALTH CARE, HAVE THE KINDS OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY THAT THEY DESERVE. I HAVE CONSISTENTLY FOUGHT FOR THE KINDS OF FOREIGN POLICY THAT WILL RESOLVE CONFLICTS WITHOUT RESORT TO THE MILITARY FORCE. AND SO, YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN CONSISTENT IN MY VALUES AND MY IDEALS, AND I THINK THAT THEY ARE THE VALUES AND THE IDEALS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. AND I THINK THAT THE DAY THAT I AM NOMINATED AND CERTAINLY THE DAY THAT I'M INAUGURATED, THIS COUNTRY WILL LOOK AT ITSELF DIFFERENTLY AND THE WORLD WILL LOOK AT AMERICA DIFFERENTLY. THAT'S NOT JUST SYMBOLIC. THAT ALLOWS ME TO DO SOME THINGS THAT PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS HAVE NOT DONE.

Borg: THANK YOU, SENATOR OBAMA, FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY.

Obama: THANK YOU SO MUCH, DEAN. APPRECIATE IT.


Tags: Barack Obama campaign 2008 Democrats Iowa politics presidential candidates