tv Countdown Democratic Convention CNN September 4, 2012 12:30am-2:00am EDT
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back in january 2008, the hottest place for politics was in one of the coldest places in the country. a crowd of presidential hopefuls was in iowa. >> fired up. ready to go. >> including the junior senator from illinois. >> let's go change the world. >> we sat down on the cnn bus to talk for our first interview. when you're sitting in the oval office and you're the decider, how can you still be the change agent from that position? >> let's take the issue of health care reform. the way we're going to overcome the drug and insurance companies and hmos who may block reform is not by name calling and yelling at them. it's going to be to mobilize the american people so that they know it's in their interests. >> reform health care. an ambitious promise. from a candidate who hadn't yet won a single primary.
a year later, it topped president obama's to-do list. >> so let there be no doubt, health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait and it will not wait another year. >> many in his inner circle felt he needed to tackle other issue first. like creating jobs and growing the economy. >> you're going to dedicate a minimum year of your presidency. and has real implications on what else can't get done in that year. even when you do that, the chances of success is like 1 out of 1 million. >> he was advised and he knew going in that the politics of it weren't going to be very good. >> the status quo is not working for you. >> but the president believed he could succeed where others before him had failed. >> thank you very much, everybody. god bless you. >> with health care, i think it had to do with the fact, he
doesn't want to be just another president, he wants to be a great president. >> the president launched his fight to reform health care and largely outsourced it to congress. members were left to hammer out details on their own. >> i just want to make sure i don't get in the way of all of you moving aggressively and rapidly. >> and the president wanted bipartisan support. >> this time, we will not fail. >> the result? total impasse. >> i want to show you a chart. >> a deadlocked congress produced nearly a half dozen plans. >> 1990 pages. >> and a growing swell of resistance. >> poorly designed for a government takeover of our health care system. >> the reforms -- the reforms i'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. [ audience member shouts "you lie" ] >> that's not true. >> you don't see obama brow beaten.
he might say, those republicans are unbelievable. but he constantly feels he's child of destiny. that confidence is his strong suit. it also can lead you to overthinking you can move mountains when mountains move very slowly. >> as the bill sat in congress -- >> no more obama! no more obama! >> -- rage exploded across the country. >> this is a vehicle to take us down a path of total socialism and totalitarianism. >> when it came to explaining health care, the president seemed to play the role of professor in chief. >> he seems to lack that emotional bit when he's talking about the politics. he's very wonkish. which surprises people. because on the campaign trail, he seemed to be a different person.
>> in a final blow, a crucial democratic seat passed into republican hands. >> ted kennedy's seat in the u.s. senate, which he had occupied for 46 years till his death last year, has been won by a republican. >> the president had lost the votes he needed to pass health care reform. his staff told him to scale back the bill or pause and return to it later. >> one of his senior advisers said to him, you know, mr. president, unless you're feeling lucky, i just don't think this is going to happen. >> i was making a joke to him. i said, look, my name's barack obama and i'm not oval office, i've got to be lucky. you know, i felt that we still had an opportunity. although it was going to be more difficult. to try to get it done. >> by all accounts, when the politics seemed lost -- >> it is the right thing to do and that's why i'm fighting so hard to get it done. >> -- president obama decided to double down on health care.
>> caution, deliberation. and then occasionally making this incredibly bold move. that's just the way he operates. >> here's what i ask congress though. don't walk away from reform. not now. >> the president personally lobbied democrats to back his plan. then the bill was forced through the senate with a procedural end-run. >> is the patient protection and affordable care act is passed. >> when it was over, president obama had accomplished something that had eluded democratic presidents for 75 years. >> it may have been a bloody road to success. he nevertheless had the political acumen to get this passed. >> to his credit, he's got a lot to show for it. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states of america, barack obama. >> in vice president biden's now infamous years -- >> this is a big deal.
>> for the president's, an ambition realized. >> today, it becomes law in the united states of america. >> when i think about all the seniors who are seeing more discounts on their prescription drugs and when i meet people who say, you know what, my brother, my uncle, my father, have a pre-existing condition, couldn't get health insurance, and now they feel more secure. effort was worth it. >> he got his historic victory but at a tremendous cost. during the year the president was focused on health care, more jobs and homes were lost. and frustration mounted. even at town halls like this one on cnbc. >> i'm one of your middle class americans. and quite frankly, i'm exhausted. i'm exhausted of defending you.
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we're done. >> president obama had won a hard-fought victory on health care but the country was still hurting. >> some economists are predicting that the unemployment rate could go higher. >> this is the first time ever that repossessions have topped 100,000 in a single month. >> as i've said from the start, there's no quick fix to the worst recession we've experienced since the great depression. >> by the summer of his second year in office, even some supporters seemed to be losing patience. like velma hart at this cnbc town hall. >> i'm one of your middle class americans. quite frankly, i'm exhausted.
i'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that i voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. >> what made you ask the question? >> at the time, it was a burning issue. i had conversations with friends, colleagues, family members, who were out of work. we were all talking about, you know, year and a half in, were we feeling the change we were all so excited about? >> change wasn't coming fast enough. not for velma hart. not for those voters who swept the president into office and expected him to champion their causes. latino voters were looking for the change candidate obama had promised on the campaign trail. >> we will have in the first year an immigration bill that i strongly support and that i'm promoting. >> while the president got credit in the latino community for appointing sonya sotomayor to the supreme court, he lost
points for deporting more undocumented immigrants than any administration in history. and for failing to pass the immigration reform he promised. when republicans blocked a bill that would let the children of undocumented immigrants stay in the u.s., the president did not use his power to make them legal on his own. >> i think a lot of people came in with that sort of narrower focus on what he would do for them. not really understanding that he's more pragmatic perhaps than they expected. >> we deserve -- >> we deserve -- >> full equality -- >> full equality! >> for gay americans, different issues, same response. >> and we are -- >> repeal don't ask, don't tell! >> now, it's good to see you. >> yes, we can! yes, we can! >> candidate obama had promised a repeal of don't ask, don't
tell. but as president, he asked gay americans to wait patiently. >> as commander in chief, in time of war, i do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. >> he went through a process because he wanted to get by him. he didn't want to just repeal don't ask, don't tell, he wanted to make sure gays could serve in the military proudly, without being alienated order ostracized, and would have the support. >> the repeal would pass congress but after almost two years. it was change on the president's time frame. >> that's why i believe this is the right thing to do for our military. that's why i believe it is the right thing to do period. >> i think that the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, was one of his largest civil rights accomplishments. and the fact you haven't heard any stories about any problems is an indication that sometimes it's better to do it over a slower process than to do it expeditiously.
>> as the nation's first black president, barack obama has been expected to tackle race in ways other presidents have not. he told "black enterprise" magazine, quote, i'm not the president of black america, i'm the president of the united states of america. >> everything he's done, both short, medium and long-term to get our economy back on track, all of that benefits the african-american community. >> harvard's randall kennedy has written about the president and race. >> there have been some black americans who have been quite critical of the president. the great masses of black americans have been quite realistic and have understood the special burdens that barack obama faced. >> i don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. >> early on, the president created an uproar by commenting on the arrest of black harvard professor henry lewis gates
junior by a white police officer outside his own home. >> number one, any of us would be pretty angry. number two, that the cambridge police acted stupidly. >> immediately, immediately, there were people who said, ah, this shows barack obama's resentfulness. this shows barack obama has a problem with white culture. this shows that barack obama doesn't like white people. >> the president doused the controversy in the rose garden with gates and the police officer at the so-called beer summit. >> well, he's trying to negotiate the dangerous ways of race in america. it's not easy for any president. >> sensitive. both personally and politically. >> his memoir's all about race. that's the lens through which he saw his life. so i think it's very deeply part
of how he views the world. and how he views himself. but i think that politically he doesn't want to get stuck there. >> does he make a conscious decision not to talk about race in office? >> periodically, he's spoken to it in ways that are very, very powerful. i don't think he sees that as the defining issue of our time. the defining issue of our time is how all americans can live in a country where if they work hard, they can get ahead. >> but as the midterm elections approached, millions of americans feared they'd never get ahead. and on november 2nd, 2010 -- >> cnn is now ready to make a major projection. the republicans will take control of the house of representatives. >> can you hear us now! >> bolstered by the tea party, six republicans claimed seats in the senate and 63 swept into the house, giving the gop the majority. >> i'm not recommending for
either future president that they take a shellacking like i did last night. >> it seemed the american people were having buyer's remorse. rejecting the president they'd embraced so warmly just two years earlier. the president would have to find a way to get back in the game. >> when things get challenging, he's at his best. [ female announcer ] pop in a whole new kind of clean. with new tide pods. just one removes more stains than the 6 next leading pacs combined pop in. stand out. now we need a little bit more... a little bit more vanilla? this is great! [ male announcer ] at humana, we believe there's never been a better time to share your passions because the results... are you having fun doing this? yeah. that's a very nice cake! [ male announcer ] well, you can't beat them. [ giggles ] ohh! you got something huh? whoa... [ male announcer ] humana understands the value of spending time together
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reggie love knows the president as a strong midrange shooter. >> he'll take his midrange jumper and he'll attack the basket. he'll knock down open shots when he's got them. >> the kind of guy you want on your side. love has been on the president's team since the campaign days. what's he like when he's just hanging out? >> he's like a guy, you know. he likes the bulls. he likes the bears. he likes sports. like most guys i know. which can sometimes be hard for some people. they're like, oh, wait, he's just like me. he's the president. >> as his personal assistant and confidant, love's seen the president as few others have. >> he's very much a person who enjoys the simple things in life. enjoins watching a good game. enjoys a good cocktail. is competitive at everything he does. if it's bowling or pool or
shuffle board. there isn't anything i think he'd be okay losing at. >> the republicans will take control of the house of representatives. >> and even when he wasn't winning with his policies, the president seemed to score with his popularity. >> most americans, polls show, like barack obama. >> ♪ i'm so in love with you [ cheers and applause ] >> when he sings a little song and he acts a little cool or he shoots baskets or he tells a joke, people still swoon over him. >> his cool demeanor plays as hip to some. >> why? >> here on "saturday night live." >> i keep it cool. i take my kids to school. i don't lose my temper. it's my only rule. i keep it cool. >> the president's biographer says it stems from the laid-back pace of a childhood in hawaii. there's a terrific phrase you
use. a bit of hawaiian slang that describes his even-keeled temperament. what is it? [ speaking foreign language ] >> what does that mean? >> it just means whenever's happening, don't be hot, be cool. >> have you seen it play out in his presidency? >> very much so. yeah, i think that's one of the elements that plays out for better and worse. >> there's no doubt he's cool under fire. when things get challenging, he's at his best. he's at his coolest. so that coolness is a great quality in a leader. >> he's basically got the sensibility of a writer. or of an anthropologist. you know, he's sort of a partisant observer. observing himself being president. >> cool but does that mean disconnected? >> i hear that suggestion that he has trouble connecting but i just don't see it. i think a lot of people have trouble connecting with people
in washington. >> the politician has to be sort of imbalanced. bill clint be was imbalanced. he needed those strangers. so he would spend the hours between 6:00 and 9:00 talking to people in congress. whereas president obama's basically with his family during those hours. you know, which is a sort of balanced thing to do but not necessarily good for a president. >> when we're in town here in washington, in the evenings, 6:30, we want to be at the dinner table with our kids and i want to be helping with their homework. i think that's sometimes interpreted as me not wanting to, you know, be out there slapping back, and wheeling and dealing. it really is more to do with the stage we are in our lives. >> if you're reelected, your girls will be older. they'll probably have their own weekend plans. they might not want to hang out with mom and dad. >> it's already starting to happen, yeah. >> do you think you might do more outreach, what you call back slapping, with members of congress? >> my hope is that getting past
this election, people will have an opportunity to maybe step back and say, you know what, the differences that divide us aren't as important as the common bonds we have as americans. some of that i'm sure will require additional effort on my part. hopefully we'll see more effort on the other side as well. >> though being a family man isn't always an asset in office, it is a priority for the president. >> well, you have to remember, this is someone who grew up raised by a single mom and his grant parents whose family abandoned him and he's lived with that kind of missing piece in him. and at a very young age, he decided he wasn't going to be the kind of father he had. he wanted to be a present father. >> and a present husband. >> he's a guy who really loves his wife. she's obviously a great source of personal strength to him.
>> she keeps me straight every single day. she is the best mom in the world. and she's cute. >> michelle obama's role has been to keep him grounded. to make sure his ego isn't a macy's float that takes off. >> those who know him best say the president is a fierce competitor at any level. you coach your daughter's basketball team. >> there you go. that's sasha's team, the vipers. this has been so much fun. ♪ i don't coach them full time. i'm sort of like an assistant coach/adviser. >> so what does the president's own game say about his leadership style?
>> he's a competitor. you know, sometimes you get a bad call but you can't extend or overextend too much emotion worrying about what just happened. from efficiency standpoint, you know, you can cry about the call or you can look to the next play. >> calm and cool. assets that would prove invaluable when facing high stakes, high risks and the nation's greatest enemy. >> my fellow americans. >> saturday, april 30th, 2011. mahalo. >> president obama was doing stand up at the white house correspondents dinner. as halfway around the world, a group of navy s.e.a.l.s was
moving into position to target the world's most wanted terrorist. >> some people now suggest i'm too professorial. i'd like to address that head on. >> if he was anxious, he didn't show it. >> by assigning all of you some reading that will help you draw your own conclusions. >> the planning had started in secret months before. how involved then was the president in the planning of this attack? >> he went through the plans at great length and ordered that they bring in more helicopters and land those helicopters inside pakistani territory so they could come in fairly quickly as a backup team. in the end, that turned out to be a pretty crucial decision. >> he asked each and every one of us in the small group of the national security counsel what our opinion was. and there was disagreement.
so it came down, as it does in these situations, with the hard decision, having to go to the president. >> when i'm making decisions, i try to pull back a little bit and take the long view. >> there were easier options. and the plan on the table risked hostages or casualties. >> i think for me to be able to step back and say, all right, what's best for the country, and not get caught up in the immediate fears, risks, concerns and pressures that you're feeling right then has probably been helpful. >> the president gave the order. >> he wanted to go for it. you know, he has that self-confidence. he has a sense of luck being on his side. >> the next day, the president
and his national security team watched as navy s.e.a.l.s raided the compound where osama bin laden was believed to be hiding. >> we were following it in real time. so it was a roller coaster of emotions that we were living through. >> the president described it as the longest 40 minutes of his life. then came the news. >> we got the word gironimo. what that meant was we got him, it was bin laden. but we had to get our guys out. i'm not sure any of us breathed till we got word they had crossed back into afghanistan. >> the president normally known for his caution had chosen the riskiest course possible and it paid off. >> i can report to the american people and to the world that the united states has conducted an
operation that killed osama bin laden, the leader of al qaeda. >> usa! usa! usa! >> to those on the left who watched how the obama presidency played out, the surprise was his aggressiveness. to those on the right, the surprise was his aggressiveness. they kept thinking he was a community organizer from chicago who had no concept of how to use american power. >> it would be hard to argue that any president had a duty higher than the ones that president obama has exercised. >> long before the bin laden raid, president obama had promised a change in american foreign policy. >> he came in on the platform of being the anti-bush. he said he would engage the rest of the world.
>> and that promise brought the president the nobel peace prize just ten months after taking office. >> he gave a speech that left the peace prize committee extraordinarily uncomfortable. >> i, like any head of state, reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. >> since then, president obama has pulled troops from iraq. created a plan to leave afghanistan. is believed to have unleashed a covert cyber war against iran's nuclear program. and drastically expanded the use of armed drones to target terrorists. >> he may be known as the drone president. the president who relied on technology to do the business of troops. >> it is a topic the president has addressed only once before. but he discussed it with us. >> my most sacred duty as
president and commander in chief is to keep the american people safe. drones are one tool that we use. >> even if the target is an american. in 2011, one of those targeted for death was anwar al awlaki. are the standards different when the target's an american? >> when an american has made a decision to affiliate itself with al qaeda and target fellow americans, that there is a legal justification for us to try to stop them from carrying out plots. >> many of his supporters are quite concerned because they view this as basically a form of targeted assassination. >> do you struggle with this policy? >> oh, absolutely. if you don't, then it's very
easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules thinking that the ends always justify the means. >> when america's threatened, the president doesn't hesitate to act on his own. >> where he determined that we would act unilaterally, it was all about those people, those groups, that threaten us. >> but in a humanitarian crisis like libya's, the president prefers company. and till he has it, he won't act. >> syria has created great outrage and terrible humanitarian anguish but we don't have any international consensus about the way forward. >> it all adds up to what some call the obama doctrine. though critics call the
president reluctant to lead. >> the obama doctrine is less blood, less pressure, less intervention of a lengthy kind. >> as commander in chief, the president can fly solo. to solve the country's domestic problems, he needs a partner. >> the president was going to have to deliver half the democrats. i was going to have to deliver half the republicans. i was confident i could do that. back from rough economic times. employees are being forced to do more with less. and the need for capable leaders is greater than ever. when you see these problems do you take a step back, or do you want to dive right in? with a degree in business from capella university, you'll have the knowledge to go further in your career than you ever thought possible.
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the nation's capital. but this is no ordinary golf game. for president barack obama and house speaker john boehner, this is a chance to be partners rather than political foes. by june 2011, it had been eight months since the republicans won control of the house and the senate's top republican declared -- >> our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny president obama a second term. >> eight months since the midterms when a chastened president promised a new way forward. >> we were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn't change how things got done. >> and eight months since a
bipartisan debt commission offered a host of painful solutions. solutions washington ignored. by the time both men hit the links, the looming crisis over the debt ceiling threatened to make a bad economy even worse. >> it would be two to three times worse of a recession than the one that we were facing as the president comes into office. >> the stakes were high. and the republicans emboldened by their midterm victories. >> thank you, pennsylvania! >> the republicans were essentially saying, ha, ha, the president will get nothing and like it. >> so the president looked to a new partner. >> the president and i like each other. i mean, we actually do get along. >> i think he felt like boehner, of ohio, that he would be able to deal with him. that he was a kawanis club republican, that i could do business with a guy like that.
i think obama saw him as the great hope. >> the president and speaker boehner began meetings with their parties world apart. republicans wanted to cut spending. >> we got to stop growing government, hoping to grow jobs, and instead we got to start cutting the federal deficit. >> democrats wanted to limit tax giveaways to the wealthiest americans. >> what we've heard from our republican colleagues is they're not willing to close one special interest tax loophole. >> the president and speaker boehner came up with an ambitious solution. they'd craft a grand bargain to raise the debt ceiling. it would also include changes to social security, medicare, tax policy and defense spending. for both sides, it meant lots of pain. but for the nation, it could mean lots of gain. >> i think he genuinely thought there was an opportunity to do something big and meaningful to deal with our long-term debt and
had what he considered productive discussions with john boehner. >> new urgency this morning. >> the clock ticks. >> we've been here before but not quite this close to default. >> was there ever a time in that meeting when he said we have a deal? >> yes, ma'am. about a week before the debt ceiling was to expire, the president asked mr. cantor and i to come in the oval office where we basically sealed the deal. >> it seemed the president had bridged the partisan divide and could count reining in the deficit as part of his legacy. but then in the final moments, the so-called grand bargain collapsed. >> i have offered ideas -- >> and finger-pointing began. >> not one time, not one time, did the administration ever put any plan on the table. >> it is hard to understand why speaker boehner would walk away from this kind of deal.
>> for speaker boehner, the problem was a last request to alter the deal. >> i said, mr. president, you know i can't do this. we've been talking about this for months. i'm already as far out on a limb as i can get. you know this. it's unfortunate. he basically blew up the deal. >> not true says the white house. >> i think personally speaker boehner probably wanted to do something. he just couldn't control his caucus. >> but the speaker says his people were never the problem. >> i got into some tough negotiations with ted kennedy. he didn't flinch. he didn't back away from the deal. he went straight forward. that's courage. >> speaker boehner, he says you flinched. >> yeah, well, i'm sure that's his version of events. i was prepared to make some cuts and some changes that were very unpopular in my base and among democrats, if i got a little bit of compromise from the other side on revenue. >> both men seem burned by the
experience. >> if i look back over the year and a half or so that i've been speaker, my greatest disappointment is the president and i couldn't come to an agreement on solving our debt crisis. >> the final deal brokered by vice president biden was far smaller than the president wanted. for president obama, it was a turning point. >> it took him i think two years to the debt ceiling debate to understand that he was not going to be able to be the conciliatory president, the mediator in chief. >> now, more than a year after that golf game, the president says of republicans -- >> where i can work with them, i will. where they don't want to compromise, i'll work around them. >> and he set out on a path of go for the jugular politics. he laid out his jobs plan, championed the popular payroll tax cut -- >> tell congress to pass this tax cut without drama, without delay.
>> and took executive actions without the support of congress. >> we can't simply wait for congress to do its job. >> the republicans fired back. >> now we have our own modern day great train robbery. >> probing the bankruptcy of the taxpayer funded solar firm solindra. and relentlessly pursuing fast and furious, anti-gun trafficking operation that cost a border agent his life. the bitter partisan divide was back out in the open.
>> the election. >> i think his naivee has been finally squashed. i don't think you've see that naive yes, we can man of 2008 ever again. >> barreling into 2012, he shifted focus from wooing the other side to winning back disappointing supporters. chief among them, women voters. >> either woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health, period. >> he stood by his controversial decision to make most health care plans cover contraception. and he often reminds women he acted early to protect equal pay. >> upholding the principle of equal pay for equal work was the first bill i signed into law. the lily ledbetter act, first bill i signed. >> then gays and lesbians.
>> homo phobia's got to go. >> the president said little on the topic of gay marriage for three years. then on "good morning america." >> for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that i think same sex couples should be able to get married. >> when is not a person who likes to leave the box but when he does, he's done it decisively. i think his embracing of gay marriage was very old. >> next, latino, an essential voting bloc. he had failed on immigration reform. then, this june -- >> he said, okay, enough is enough. now we're going to take administrative action. >> his administration temporarily halted the deportation of the children of undocumented immigrants.
>> they are americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one. on paper. >> campaign 2012 had begun. >> to be the transformational president he wants to be, you have to have two terms. you can't do it in one. so everything is riding on this election for barack obama. >> ultimately, it will be up to voters and historians to assess his term in office. among his accomplishments, the death of osama bin laden. the passage of landmark but controversial health care reform. the restructuring of the american auto industry. averting a great depression. and keeping his promise to withdraw from iraq. >> the last 3 1/2 years will probably be viewed as one of the
most tumultuous periods in american history. having that steady hand that the president has i think has really benefitted our country. >> on the other side of the ledger, millions of americans remain unemployed. millions of homes still under water. a ballooning national debt. a broken promise to close guantanamo bay. and a nation more divided than ever. but isn't that what you ran on? in 2008, promising to bridge the divides? >> what i promised was we were going to look out for the american people. and that i would do everything i could to break through some of the old ideological gridlock and just focus on what works. and that's actually what we did. >> despite the challenges, president obama believes he can
still do more. >> what i hope is, is that post election, if i'm -- the american people are willing to see me here for another four years that members of congress are going to remind themselves what they're sent here to do and that is ultimately to work for the people who sent us here. >> for the president, it all boils down to the same advice he gives his daughter's basketball team. >> just always worry about doing your job, doing your best, getting better and thinking like a team.
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welcome to charlotte, north carolina, and the democratic national convention. we're taking a closer look at the education of a president in cnn's documentary "obama revealed." one of the most eye opening moments is when both the president and house speaker john boehner traded barbs about the collapse of the deficit reduction deal last year. it's clear they are both still bitter about it. take a look. >> i said, mr. president, you
know i can't do this. we've been talking about this for months. i'm already as far out on a limb as i can get and you know it. why are you doing this? it's unfortunate. he basically blew up the deal. >> not true says the white house. >> i think personally, speaker boehner probably wanted to do something, he just couldn't control his caucus. >> but the speaker said his people were never the problem. >> i got into some tough negotiations with ted kennedy. he didn't flinch. he didn't back away from the deal. he went straightforward. that's courage. >> speaker boehner, he says you flinched. >> yeah, well, i'm sure that's his version of events. i was prepared to make some cuts. and some changes that were very unpopular in my base and among democrats. if i got a little bit of compromise from the other side on revenue. >> well, chief white house correspondent jessica yellin is with us. along with cnn con trip uniters alex castellanos and james
carville. what do these two men think about each other? were you ever able to figure it out? >> i get the sense there is at this point no love lost between the two of them. speaker boehner said at one point we didn't get to use -- president obama is not my kind of guy. and president obama sort of scoffs at speaker boehner. i think it's sort of a bromance gone bad and they sort of both feel frustrated they could have had this legacy making deal. >> james, it is interesting to see the style of president obama. we sort of saw it in this documentary. do you think if he is re-elected that there will be much more change? there will be more back slapping? there would be more kind of outreach? >> i don't know. a guy you sort of -- i think the outreach -- he'll talk to people or something like that. as you saw him at 6:30, he like, he likes to go be with his family. now maybe his daughters, they pointed out in the piece, or the documentary i guess you'd call
it, will be older. but he may engage in some of that. but by and large, he's a guy that's not a kind of back slapping kind of politician. he's very engaged. he worked hard. he knows that's not his thing. and usually a person of that age, seldom changes as they get older. >> well, it's interesting, because you hear president obama say if he's re-elected there will be change -- do you think if he's re-elected there will be change in terms of their willingness to compromise? >> well, you know, with responsibility and power, you have to step up to the plate. it's all easy to fight gorilla warfare from the outside when you're in a minority. but if republicans do take the senate and the house, i think so. but otherwise, it's so ideologically divided right now in washington between the administration and the republicans that i'm not sure anything would change. >> do you agree? >> no, something -- the election will change something.
if he wins or loses or if the republicans -- if the democrats keep the senate or something happens in the house. but basically the election is going to mean something. somebody should come out of this with an upper hand and some changes will be made. there was a fascinating thing on that whole story. there was a great story "the new york times did." it really went through kind of went through what happened. fascinating way the democracy works. it will change after the election. something will happen. something will give. >> this long afterward, people are still arguing over what happened in that is fascinating. >> there are two different versions. the big picture what i do believe is i believe the president when he says that he now believes he'll work around the republicans when they won't work with him. what i mean by that is he did come in with his whole philosophy he's going to bridge the partisan divide. saying he would do that. he's not saying that anymore. i think he's learned about the executive power of the presidency.
and he's learned how to flex his muscles in that. if he's re-elected, he will flex his muscles in the executive office more. >> there was talk about how he would leave things up to congress. do you think that was a mistake? >> i thought one of the great things that -- in jessica's piece is you got a sense of barack obama's demeanor, who he is. it's almost not a -- the character of a president. it's almost like a judge. like king solomon. someone who sits above everything. and it's his job to weigh everything but believe in nothing. it's a little distant and cool. and i think that's one of the reasons that he let congress run early on. he sits above it. and he wants to be impartial and fair. >> do you buy that james? >> i mean, he was very involved in passing the stimulus. he said he wanted congress to stay in until they got -- there is something i want to say.
there's a whole group of people, they'd say, these campaigns, the media, they cover things that don't matter. you couldn't have watched the romney documentary we put out. you couldn't have watched this. and anybody, any fair person say, you know something, i learned something today. i learned something about what happened. what kind of person romney is. i really learned something about -- i was watching, the last four years, i didn't realize all the stuff happened that happened. i was talking to candy crowley outside, she said i watched it -- you go back and watch it -- >> it is fascinating -- >> you relive that. my general point is i wish somebody would sort of acknowledge that you know what if anybody wants to see this, they're going to learn something, no matter how much you own. >> it's going to be on at the top of the hour. stay tuned to watch it. "obama revealed." we got a rare exchange. some of it not captured in the documentary. up next, jessica's question on the president's orders to strike at terrorists and his answer. >> the difficulties of dealing
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president obama who almost never talked about u.s. drone attacks on militants. jessica asked him about the process of choosing targets. watch. >> do you personally decide who was targeted and what are your criteria if you do for the use of lethal force? >> it has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative. it has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move
forward on some sort of operational plot against the united states. but a lot of the terrorist networks that have targeted the united states, the most dangerous ones, operate in very remote regions and it's very difficult to capture them. and we've got to make sure that whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties. >> do you struggle with this policy? >> oh, absolutely. look, i think that a president who doesn't struggle with issues of war and peace and fighting terrorism and the -- the difficulties of dealing with an opponent that has no rules, that's something that you have to struggle with. because if you don't, then it is
very easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules, thinking that the ends always justify the means. and that's not been our tradition. that's not who we are as a country. our most powerful tool over the long term to reduce the terrorist threat is to live up to our values and to be able to shape public opinion, not just here but around the world, that senseless violence is not the way to resolve political differences. so it's very important for the president and the entire culture of our national security team to continually ask tough questions about are we doing the right thing, are we abiding by rule of law, are we abiding by due process, and then set up structures and institutional
checks, so that, you know, you avoid any kind of slippery slope into a place where we're not being true to who we are. >> the president rarely talks about drone strikes. joining jessica yellin and me are gloria borger, wolf blitzer and cnn political correspondent candy crowley. was it hard to get him to talk about this? >> no, and he was willing to obviously answer the questions but i asked twice if you've personally, mr. president, decide who was targeted for lethal action, and he wouldn't answer it. he said, you know, i have to be careful because these are national security matters. it's been reported that he does. you heard his answer. it was very carefully crafted. and he didn't really reveal very much in the end. but it was interesting to me that he did want to discuss it. because he seems conflicted. he thinks it's important that americans know about the policy, know that there are clear standards, but he doesn't want
to reveal too much. >> well, it's also interesting, wolf, because this is a president who's ordered more drone strikes, certainly exponentially more than under the bush administration, yet republicans are attacking him for being weak in foreign policy. >> it's been amazing when you think about it, not only more drone strikes, killing more terrorists out there, militants if you will, and going after them. the whole bin laden operation obviously went forward on that. we know some of what he has organized in iran for example, covert action, the cyber warfare that jessica reported. there's been other covert operations that have been going on as well. i wouldn't be all that surprised one of these days, given the fact he said the u.s. will not accept a policy of containment, in terms of iran having a nuclear weapon capability, i wouldn't be shocked one day if the -- if he gives that order to go ahead and use military action. on this, he's pretty determined. >> it was interesting to me, gloria, to listen to the documentary about how he makes decisions and sort of the coolness with which he recognizes he makes decisions.
>> just in watching him, it's very clear that like the methodical constitutional scholar that he is, nothing is taken lightly. no decision is made without a lawyer. no decision is made without a lot of forethought. i think what he wanted to talk, particularly to his liberal constituency here, is he hasn't done this without thought. because lots of the left wing of the democratic party are saying where are the battlefields, what are the rules of engagement? why do you feel it's fine to drop these drones? is that the right way to conduct warfare? i think in many ways he was sort of speaking to them. letting them know this is not a policy i just thought of overnight. >> also in the documentary, talked about the coolness with which he makes decisions. but also then occasionally taking great risk with very bold action. the bin laden killing was one. do you think -- i mean what role
do you think foreign policy is going to play in people's decision making in this election? >> i don't think it's much of an election about foreign policy. it's certainly an underlying -- it's always an issue, but it's so small compared, right now, to jobs and the economy. and americans have shown that in general that's kind of pretty far down their list. if you look at bill clinton beating president bush. president bush had a resume -- probably one of the best resumes in politics for foreign policy. bill clinton who had no foreign policy experience beat him. dole, clinton beat him handily. lots of places when americans have shown when they're looking for something else, particularly the domestic side, that that's what they care about. it is interesting, it is very hard for the republicans to challenge him on the specifics of this drone program because in fact they had -- that's something they have supported.
it is the lesson. it's been a pretty quiet left, by the way that has said, wait a second, two of the folks we killed were american citizens. and his son i believe. there were some things that really made a lot of folks on left squeamish but it has not been loud. this has been a plus for him. in some ways, it takes it off the table for this year. >> we have to take a quick break. president obama also talked about the conflict between trying to raise a family and the divide for getting things done in washington. take a look. >> 6:30, we want to be at the dinner table with the kids and i want to help them with their homework. i think that's sometimes interpreted as me not wanting to be out there slapping backs and wheeling and dealing. kot-s tabl. senokot-s has a natural vegetable laxative ingredient plus the comfort of a stool softener for gentle, overnight relief of occasional constipation. go to senokot-s.com for savings. of occasional constipation.
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in the documentary, "obama revealed" which will be playing in about nine minutes from now, the president opens up about his family life and what he likes to do on his nights off, even if it gets in the way of his agenda. >> when we're in washington, 6:30 we want to be at the dinner table with the kids, helping with their homework. i think that's sometimes interpreted as me not being out there slapping backs and wheeling and dealing. and that really has more to do with just the stage we are in our lives. >> if you're re-elected your girls will be older, they will probably have their own weekend plans. they may not want to hang out with mom and dad. >> that's already starting to happen. >> do you think you'll do more outreach, what you call back slapping with members of congress?
>> my hope is, people will have an opportunity to step back and say, you know what, the differences that divide us aren't as important as the bonds we have as americans. and some of that, i'm sure, will require additional effort on my part. hopefully we'll see more effort on the other side as well. >> though being a family man isn't always an asset in office, it is a priority for the president. >> well, you have to remember, this is someone who grew up raised by a single mom and his grandparents, whose father abandoned him. and he's lived with that missing piece inside of him. and at a very early age he decided he wasn't going to be the kind of father he had, he wanted to be a present father opinion >> jessica yellin and our panel of correspondents are still with us. it's interesting, you were talking while this was on about the different kind of man he is on the campaign trail as he is in the white house, even his speeches are different?
>> he is almost a warmer, more accessible person. it seems. >> on the campaign trail? >> on the campaign trail. than he is when he's in office. even if he's out in campaign setting when he's in office, out and -- a state selling something, he's not the same. >> is that because he sees the mantle of president as requiring a certain kind of demeanor? >> i think it's a way he feels held back. when there's a clear opposition, it frees him to be a different way. he's such a different politician than, for example, bill clinton, in that respect. >> do you buy the reason he says he's not back slapping and calling up friends in congress and not schmoozing with them is because he wants to be at dinner with his family at 6:30? >> he doesn't like to mix and
mingle, he doesn't like to call up people who are raising money for him and say, thanks a lot. not to take away from i want to be with my kids at 6:30, i'm sure he does. the bushes weren't wild about town people either. there's a way to bring congress over for a bbq, cocktails. post homework. there's ways to do that. clearly, they've talked about the 6:30 dinnertime a lot, i buy that. it is also true that he doesn't like any of that. >> it's also interesting because it's not just reaching out to members of congress who are trying to convince people who differ in opinions. he's been criticized by fellow democrats who's saying, he's not signing the photograph that they request put on their wall, little things. >> right. >> he's aloof. it's not a new word that's used for him. what comes to my mind, when you think of mitt romney and
president obama, they're both aloof in different ways. people say that mitt romney, when he's just with his family and friends is as warm as can be. but he gets on the stump, and forget about it, right? because he self-edits. when you think of president obama, he may be colder when he's in the oval office, when he's out on the stump, he relates to people in such a different way. so there are flip sides of each other. >> we haven't talked about michelle obama, she'll be speaking tomorrow night. it will be interesting to see how her speech compares to ann romney. >> i think both of these men, mitt romney and president obama are blessed with wonderful wives. ann romney did a fabulous job last week. i'm sure michelle obama will do a wonderful job. she's a wonderful woman, great mother, the love of his life. and i think all of that will come through in her remarks tomorrow night. just as it came through with ann romney's speech in tampa a few days ago.
i think this will be one of the highlights of this convention, the michelle obama speech. >> they're going to want to talk about ann romney's role, humanizing mitt romney. different role for michelle obama, though? >> she helps people get a sense of who barack obama is as a guy. and she's a great speaker. she speaks in simpler, more relatable terms sometimes than her husband. i'm anderson cooper, wolf blitzer, jessica yellin, candy crawly, gloria borger, join us. great shot. how did the nba become the hottest league on the planet?
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