Barack Obama appeared on Bloomberg TV last night in an interview with Peter Cook. Transcript follows…
PETER COOK: Joining me now from Capitol Hill with more reaction to the
president’s State of the Union address tonight, as well as the presidential
campaign and what’s been playing out on the campaign trail is Senator Barack
Obama, the Democrat from Illinois, who is of course running for president as
well. Senator Obama, thanks for joining us here on Bloomberg.
And I need to ask you, did you listen to a lame-duck president this
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): Well, I think there’s no doubt that the
president was sort of mailing it in. You just didn’t see the kind of bold
initiatives that would match up with what I’m seeing out on the campaign
trail. People are anxious about the economy; they’re worried about losing
their homes, losing their jobs. They’re trying to figure out how to save,
how to retire, what’s happening in the stock market, where our economic
competitiveness is over the long term, and you really didn’t see anything to
address that. What you had were the same old nostrums about renewing the
president’s tax cuts. That can’t be the sum of the solutions to the problems
that we face right now and I think that it was a disappointment, certainly,
for the American people.
MR. COOK: What about the talk of fiscal stimulus? He’s worked out this deal
with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the Minority Leader John Boehner.
It’s heading over to the Senate right now. Is that package of $150 billion
enough to get the U.S. economy back on track?
MR. OBAMA: Well, listen, I think that it’s promising that we’ve got the
president and Congress talking, and the contours of the package involving tax
rebates very much mirrored some of the proposals that I made a while back.
But there’s some things that still need to be added. Unemployment insurance,
I think, has to be extended; long-term unemployment is twice what it was
during the last recession. I think that the package for keeping people in
their homes and preventing foreclosure is very important.
But you know, I think what was missing from tonight’s speech is a long-term
economic strategy. How do we improve transparency and accountability in the
financial markets so that we are seeing a better match between risk and
reward, and we’re not seeing these kinds of bubbles develop that are going to
be causing so much problem not just here, but internationally? How do we
create long-term economic growth by investing in our infrastructure, creating
a system of workforce training and education that will make our workers more
skilled? What are we doing with respect to research and development? How
are we dealing with our healthcare crisis, the burden that is not on just
families but also on our businesses? Those kinds of proposals were missing,
and that’s what I intend to provide leadership on when I’m president of the
MR. COOK: Sir, we’ve talked with Senator Clinton about her experience on
economic issues and she’s raised some questions about yours. Can you
contrast for us why you’d be a better president in terms of handling the U.S.
MR. OBAMA: Well, look, the fact is that the U.S. economy succeeds when all
people and not just some people succeed. And you know, my track record in
the state legislature, for example, was to provide tax relief to people who
really needed it, working families, as opposed to those who did not. My
experience has been to increase transparency and accountability in terms of
how federal monies are spent because I think that so long as these special
interests and insiders here in Washington are in charge, then we’re going to
see the kinds of wasteful spending that doesn’t grow the economy.
So what we’re really looking for right now is leadership, the leadership that
can mobilize and energize the American people to bring about critical
changes, whether it’s on healthcare or on energy policy or on education, and
that’s the kind of leadership that I’ve provided for over 20 years now.
MR. COOK: Sir, one final question. You’ve won the South Carolina primary;
today you got the endorsement of Senator Ted Kennedy. Are you now the
MR. OBAMA: (Chuckles.) I’m never the frontrunner. When your name is Barack
Obama, you’re never the frontrunner. So, you know, Senator Clinton has
formidable name recognition; we have to campaign all across the country. I
think everybody expects her to do very well on February 5th. But you know,
we’re scrappy and we’re going to work in all sorts of states where we think
we can get some delegates and keep this race going.
MR. COOK: Senator Barack Obama, we appreciate you joining us here on
Bloomberg. Thanks very much for the time.
MR. OBAMA: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.