President-elect Barack Obama appeared for his first major television interview post election on 60 Minutes this evening.
In a wide ranging interview, Obama spoke about the need to restore America’s place in the world and how he’d close Gitmo and ban the use of torture to help in that process.
On the auto industry, Obama spoke of the need to provide assistance, but only conditionally with a long term look at sustainability.
The first video from the interview as follows, well update to the post when more is available. Following the video is a full transcript
Update: video is now the full interview
Steve Kroft: So here we are.
President-elect Barack Obama: Here we are.
Kroft: How’s your life changed in the last ten days?
Mr. Obama: Well, I tell you what, there seem to be more people hovering around me. That’s for sure. And, on the other hand, I’m sleeping in my own bed over the last ten days, which is quite a treat. Michelle always wakes up earlier than I do. So listen to her roaming around and having the girls come in and, you know, jump in your bed. It’s a great feeling. Yeah.
Kroft: Has this been easier than the campaign trail?
Mr. Obama: Well, it’s different. I think that during the campaign it is just a constant frenetic, forward momentum. Here, I’m stationary. But the issues come to you. And we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of problems, a lot of big challenges.
Kroft: Have there been moments when you’ve said, ‘What did I get myself into?’
Mr. Obama: Surprisingly enough, I feel right now that I’m doing what I should be doing. That gives me a certain sense of calm. I will say that the challenges that we’re confronting are enormous. And they’re multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, ‘Where do I start?’
Kroft: What have you been concentrating on this week?
Mr. Obama: Couple of things. Number one, I think it’s important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We wanna make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible. Obviously the economy. Talking to top economic advisors about how we’re gonna create jobs, how we get the economy back on track and what do we do in terms of some long-term issues like energy and healthcare. And how do we sequence those things in a way that we can actually get things through Congress?
Kroft: Are you in sync with Secretary Paulson in terms of how the $700 billion is being used?
Mr. Obama: Well, look, Hank Paulson has worked tirelessly under some very difficult circumstances. We’ve got an unprecedented crisis, or at least something that we have not seen since the Great Depression. And I think Hank would be the first one to acknowledge that probably not everything that’s been done has worked the way he had hoped it would work. But I’m less interested in looking backwards than I am in looking forwards.
Kroft: The government has spent almost $300 billion out of the TARP program.
Mr. Obama: Right.
Kroft: Money that was set aside to help the financial industry. And nothing much has changed if you look at it. Nothing much has changed. It’s $300 billion. Why is that?
Mr. Obama: I think the part of the way to think about it is things could be worse. I mean, we could have seen a lot more bank failures over the last several months. We could have seen an even more rapid deterioration of the economy, even a bigger drop in the stock market. So part of what we have to measure against is what didn’t happen and not just what has happened.
Having said that, there’s no doubt that we have not been able yet to reset the confidence in the financial markets and in the consumer markets and among businesses that allow the economy to move forward in a strong way. And my job as president is gonna be to make sure that we restore that confidence.
(CBS) Kroft: Once you become president, are there things that you’ll change?
Mr. Obama: Well, you know I think we still have to see how this thing unfolds over the next couple of months. One area that I’m concerned about, and I’ve said this publicly, is we have not focused on foreclosures and what’s happening to homeowners as much as I would like. We have the tools to do it. We’ve gotta set up a negotiation between banks and borrowers so that people can stay in their homes. That is gonna have an impact on the economy as a whole. And, you know, one thing I’m determined is that if we don’t have a clear focused program for homeowners by the time I take office, we will after I take office.
Kroft: Are you being consulted by Secretary Paulson?
Is he telling you what’s going on?
Mr. Obama: You know what we’ve done is we’ve assigned somebody on my transition team who interacts with him on a daily basis. And, you know, we are getting the information that’s required to and we’re making suggestions in some circumstances about how we think they might approach some of these problems.
Kroft: Are they listening?
Mr. Obama: Well, you know, that we’ll find out.
Kroft: People are comparing this to 1932.
Mr. Obama: Right.
Kroft:Is that a valid comparison, do you think?
Mr. Obama: Well, keep in mind that 1932, 1933 the unemployment rate was 25 percent, inching up to 30 percent. You had a third of the country that was ill housed, ill clothed, unemployed. We’re not going through something comparable to that. But I would say that this is as bad as we’ve seen since then. And if we don’t take some significant steps then it could get worse.
Kroft: You have a situation right now where you have General Motors, which is in dire straits.
Mr. Obama: Yeah.
Kroft: May run out of cash by the end of the year, maybe by the end of certainly, if we believe what we read in the papers, by the time you take office.
Mr. Obama: Yeah. Well, let’s see how this thing plays itself out. For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment, not just for individual families but the repercussions across the economy would be dire. So it’s my belief that we need to provide assistance to the auto industry. But I think that it can’t be a blank check.
So my hope is that over the course of the next week, between the White House and Congress, the discussions are shaped around providing assistance but making sure that that assistance is conditioned on labor, management, suppliers, lenders, all the stakeholders coming together with a plan what does a sustainable U.S. auto industry look like? So that we are creating a bridge loan to somewhere as opposed to a bridge loan to nowhere. And that’s, I think, what you haven’t yet seen. That’s something that I think we’re gonna have to come up with.
Kroft: Are there a lot of people that think that the country would probably be better off and General Motors might be better off if it was allowed to go into bankruptcy?
Mr. Obama: Well, you know, under normal circumstances that might be the case in the sense that you’d go to a restructuring like the airlines had to do in some cases. And then they come out and they’re still a viable operation. And they’re operating even during the course of bankruptcy. In this situation, you could see the spigot completely shut off so that it would not potentially permit GM to get back on its feet. And I think that what we have to do is to recognize that these are extraordinary circumstances. Banks aren’t lending as it is. They’re not even lending to businesses that are doing well, much less businesses that are doing poorly. And in that circumstance, the usual options may not be available.
(CBS) Kroft: When the price of oil was at $147 a barrel, there were a lot of spirited and profitable discussions that were held on energy independence. Now you’ve got the price of oil under $60.
Mr. Obama: Right.
Kroft: Does doing something about energy is it less important now than…