Obama Conducts Today Show Interview Just Before Boston Marathon Explosions

President Barack Obama sat down with Today’s Savannah Guthrie for an interview just hours before yesterday’s tragic explosions rocked the Boston Marathon. The interview aired on this morning’s episode of Today.

“I think we got a good chance of seeing it pass if members of Congress are listening to the American people,” Obama said after Gurthrie opened up with questions about gun control legislation.

Obama asserted that 90 percent of Americans think lawmakers should make it tougher for criminals or people with serious mental illness to obtain a gun.

“So the notion that Congress would defy the overwhelming interest of the American people after what we saw happen in Newtown, I think is unimaginable,” Obama said.

The conversation shifted to the topic of North Korea, which has drawn the ire of the internationally community in recent weeks with persistent threats to South Korea, Japan, and US bases in the region.

“This is the same kind of pattern that we saw his father engage in and his grandfather before that,” Obama said. “Since I came into office, the one thing I was clear about is we’re not going to reward this kind of provocative behavior. You don’t get to bang your spoon on the table and somehow you get your way.”

When asked if this was the closest the US has come to war with North Korea under Obama’s watch, the president recalled an incident when North Korea shot down a South Korea fishing boat.

“That wasn’t just words, that was action,” he said.

The president predicted that North Korea will continue to provoke the international community in the days ahead, but he expects the country’s gestures to calm down enough for attention to shift over to helping the government provide food to its people. The US does not believe North Korea has the capacity to put a nuclear warhead on a missile, but Obama has ordered defensive measures just in case.

Guthrie then pushed Obama on his recent budget proposal, asking about his willingness to ask Democrats to make a difficult vote that he was not willing to do prior to his own re-election.

“What I tried to do is put forward a budget that I think is a realistic compromise,” Obama said. “It does not give Republicans everything they want. Frankly, it does not include everything that I would like to see. What it does is put forward some of the ideas that Republicans suggested around entitlement reform that I think are reasonable policy.”

Obama has attracted vitriol from the left over his proposal to make cuts to Social Security and other entitlement programs. While the president has not received enthusiastic support from Republicans, some, such as former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, have expressed optimism.

See Today‘s full interview with President Obama below:

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Hours after the interview, two explosions went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The premeditated attack left at least three people dead and over 100 wounded. Authorities are still investigating who was behind the attack.

“Any responsible individuals, responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice,” Obama said in a televised statement given after the Boston Marathon explosions.

[Image by Elizabeth Cromwell ) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]