tv Charlie Rose PBS January 16, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin tonight with jerry sibe. editor with the "wall street journal." talked to him after he returned from trump tower in an interview with president-elect donald trump. >> it mostly focused on how he will approach relations with russian and china. he delivered a classic trump message which is everything is on the table, don't assume anything and it's a practical, transactional message. how we get along with them depends on how they treat us. >> rose: also steve kroft. he interviewed president obama more than a dozen times. this weekend on "60 minutes."
"60 minutes" presents barack obama, eight years in the white house. steve kroft joins us to talk about this interview. >> i think he's ready to go. i think he's probably not happy about leaving under these circumstances, but he's done a very good job of -- publicly of sort of keeping those feelings to himself. but i think he's had enough. he talked at some length about the fact that you just need to recharge, you know, if you have been doing something for such a long time, it's hard -- it becomes hard to maintain the same level of emergency and intensity and you had when you came in the job and thinks it's time for fresh legs. >> rose: gerald seib and steve kroft when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the
following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin with politics, the inauguration is a week away and the intelligence community under fire. president-elect donald trump blasted its handling of titillating but unconfirmed allegations he might have been compromised by the russians and the justice department is reviewing f.b.i. director james comey's handling of the investigation of hillary clinton's e-mails. with me is gerald seib, executive editor and chief commentator for the "wall street journal." he interviewed president-elect trump earlier this afternoon. you can see that interview
online for the "wall street journal" and in the saturday weekend edition of the paper so pleased to have him here at this interesting moment. welcome. >> thank you very much. it's interesting, yes. >> rose: how is trump tower? trump tower is spectacular. the view of central park is to die for. what can i say? >> rose: you have a couple of your colleagues with you, went in for a 15-minute interview and ended up talking longer than that. >> almost an hour. it was fascinating. focusing on russia and china, the two big subjects on the table and how he would approach those. it was a classic trump message which is everything is on the table, don't assume anything and it's a practical kind of transactional message. how we get along with them depends on how they treat us and that's how we approach this. >> rose: how he treated his republican opponents in the
primary. you criticize me, i'll come back at you. >> true. and going and they have to even out in the end. i asked him if he would keep in place sanctions on russia by obama after he found out the russians hacked into the political system in the u.s. he said for now i will keep them in place. but over time in russia are being cooperative, why would you want to keep sanctions in place if they're doing great work for you. >> rose: which they have been not been doing. >> ash carter says flatly they're not. but we'll see. i think the message from donald trump to us, and i think certainly to the russians and the chinese, is, you know, we will treat you the way you are treating us, and with the chinese his argument is the trading system is vastly unfair to us, and until that changes, there is going to be a problem
in this relationship. >> rose: why do you think it took him so long to confirm that it was, in fact, the russians? he said others have also hacked, but in this specific case, he acknowledged the russians had done it. why did it take him so long when the intelligence community said, this is almost a unanimous opinion by us? >> well, i'm not sure i know why he was reluctant and as you know he got there this week. he said, yes, probably it was the russians. >> rose: after a meeting with them. but he had seen the intelligence. >> look, i think there is a lot of suspicion in trump-land that the whole hacking thing is an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of his election and by extension the legitimacy of his presidency and i think there is some resent meant of that and, so, they are acting accordingly. i think he knows this question is now going to be a problem for him, so i think he does not want to blow up a problem that's already a problem for him now.
but i think he got there somewhat reluctantly but now will have to deal with the reality which is everybody including him greece the russians engaged in some kind of hack behavior in the campaign. >> rose: the material that came out in the dossier that he says didn't happen and nobody believes it and anyone who prints it is a disgrace to journalism and i commend those who didn't print it. >> similar to what he said in his press conference, it's fake news, made up, not true, nobody had the meetings to have the kind described, i wasn't there when the things i was alleged to have done in russia were happening, it's fake news, and it was a strenuous denial of the entire dossier presented and we're all talking about. >> rose: so why did it get so much currency if in fact it's a consensus that it could not be verified? it was around for a while. it was ordered up as opposition
research in a british firm with a former m.i.6 agent put it together. >> i think it got currency this week because when the intelligence community decided it was plausible enough that a summary of it ought to be presented to the people who are receiving the broader report about russian hacking, election year hacking, that there ought to be essentially an addendum to that that said by the way hear's a report that's floating around, you ought to be aware of it said to president obama and president-elect donald trump, and i think the intelligence community thought it plausible and potentially legitimate enough to mention it gave it some legitimacy and i think that's one of the things that president-elect trump is responding to that the intelligence community seemed by doing that -- >> rose: by bringing it to the attention of the president made it seem like it had validity. >> plausibility. >> rose: did they think it had
plausibility. >> i think they thought it did have or we wouldn't be having this conversation. you know the back story. a lot of news organizations have not been able to verify it. so it was floating around. it was known and discussed but nobody, journalistically, it was hard to know what to do with it. >> rose: so was that over then instead of new information on that? >> i don't think any of this is over because now we're off to congressional investigation land, right? and, so, the whole question of russian hacking and by extension inevitably some of the stuff we're talking about here will be hashed over in congressional hearings. >> rose: and with republicans in the majority, john mccain and the armed services committee having a very strong sense that cyber security is a huge issue and is a huge national security issue. >> which everybody including donald trump agrees upon and he said i'm going to take this
seriously, i'm going to have a special blue ribbon group of people who are going to come to me in a couple of months and tell me what we as a country are going to do about cyber security and the hacking threat. nobody disputes the threat. i think there is a disagreement among republicans in congress about how they ought to go about investigating the charges of what did or didn't happen in 2016 in a political context but that's a different issue. >> rose: can he be tough on russia? >> i think he can be and will be. he's very transactional. you're doing good things for you, i will for you. you're not doing good things for me, i'll make trouble for you. that's approach to a lot of things in his life. >> rose: if vladimir putin likes me, what's the prop? >> in the interview, he said if vladimir putin likes donald trump and donald trump gets along with vladimir putin that's good for the world, that's not
bad for the world. that's clearly his strongly-held view. >> rose: does it make sense to you? >> yeah, except it's not quite that simple because it's a question of -- and the response john mccain gives, for example, as well, in the end, vladimir putin's view of the world is for russia to be great it has to diminish america's power around the world. >> rose: and influence. and, so, therefore, we can never really have a cordial relationship and i'm not sure donald trump agrees with that. >> rose: when putin comes up is he anxious to meet with him? >> i asked that, and he said i understand they want to meet with me and that's absolutely fine with me. it's not unprecedented. barack obama met vladimir putin numerous times. >> rose: and in fact john kennedy one of his earlier visits with nicky khrushchev in
vienna. >> and barack obama thought, i'm going to reset the relationship, so this is a recurring theme. >> rose: what does he say about his relationship with china and the fact they're doing a lot of things in the south china sea his nominees believe is a threat. >> i think at the top of his bill of complaints against china is the trade relationship in the fact he believes the chinese have not played fair for a long time, does continue to believe they're manipulating their currency to give themselves a benefit in international commerce, and that he's not going to take it anymore. >> rose: does not think it's a level playing field. >> does not think it's a level playing field and thinks there has to become a more level playing field and he's going to do something about it. i think the security issues in the south china sea are certainly a problem, but i think the first problem he sees is a trade problem with the chinese
that has been allowed to fester and linger and that needs to be dealt with. >> rose: because we know one thing, at least my observation is, if there is one theme that is central to what he is saying in this transition, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. >> yeah. >> rose: if it's trade, if it's companies going oversees, if there is any issue that has to do with jobs, that is why i think i was elected. >> i think that's a very good point. i think that's exactly right. at one point in the conversation, he said, you know, these people who voted for me in the midwest, they're great people, they have great skills, they can do the things that are necessary to fix the trade problem, they're not being allowed to. the companies they have been working for to do those are going away, we have to fix that. the rust belt, wisconsin and michigan and pennsylvania, are the places where this unfair
trading alignment in the world has really hit home, and we're going to do something about it. >> rose: your paper and the "new york times" today headlines, nominees at odds with trump's campaign positions? >> mm-hmm. >> rose: and does he respond to that? does he say, look, they speak for themselves? i want them to speak for themselves? in the end, it is my policies that will be carried out? >> you know, he addressed that to the pool hanging out in trump tower today and said essentially, i told them go say what you think, and i want them to say what they think, not what they think i think. i want strong people who have their own views, which i think makes sense and works for him because it shows he's comfortable with differing opinions around him, which is what a president ought to want. i think the problem is how do you reconcile those differences which, in some cases, seem to be fairly substantial when the time
comes to sit around the table and decide what's the policy? we'll see. it will be interesting. >> rose: that's right, sometimes a plus or negative. has to be a choice at some time. >> yes. >> rose: let me interrupt you. take a perfect example is the iran nuclear deal. you said you're going to dismantle it. his secretary of defense says he thinks it's good. >> yeah. >> rose: dismantle it or it's good and leave it in place? >> or you dismantle it slowly and -- you know, there are probably variations on the theme, but i think the tough question will be how do we deal with the russians and are the russians a potential not ally but are they a potential partner, or is there a sort of an unbridgeable divide between what vladimir putin wants to do in the world and what do we want to accomplish in the world and i think that's where the most difficult conversations may take place. >> rose: you heard from ash
carter in conversations with me and the secretary of defense say in syria the russians said they were going to come in and attack i.s.i.s. they didn't do that. they essentially attacked the forces opposed to bashar al-assad. >> yeah, i think secretary carter's view is they've done nothing to help us fight i.s.i.s. and aren't interested. they're interested in saving bashar al-assad, you know, the president of syria who is their ally. >> rose: characterize this -- it's fascinating to me and i had the experience that you did -- you sat there across from a reasonable man in terms of what he said. >> yeah. you know, it's a businessman by experience whose life experience had been i'm going to try to get as much as i can but in the end i know, you know, that it's not -- you don't always get everything you want. >> right.
but you negotiate hard to get as close to the 100% mark as possible. >> rose: were you surprised by this in any way, though? >> no, i don't think so. because if you -- if you know donald trump's history, you know that he is basically transactional. >> rose: and charming in person? >> yeah, and i think the persona and person is way different from the campaign rally persona, strike lig different. >> rose: my theory about that and an observation is the campaign rally persona, in part, was that he had defined himself as a disruptor because he believed that was the image he needed in a sense to say to those people. who dispossessed,. who that they had no income security, the only way that somebody could break through their disillusion with politics is to portray themselves so different from everything they had seen that they would be willing to take a chance.
>> right, and i think even the republicans who lost to donald trump, the campaign managers who ran those failed campaigns would say we understood that there was a great appetite for change in the country, we got that. what we didn't appreciate but that donald trump did appreciate was how angry people were that they hadn't gotten the change and that he tapped into not just the sentiment for change but the anger over, you know, lack of progress. >> rose: but suggested, and i think he tried to create the image that i'm a strong man, i'm different from the rest and i'm tougher than they were because i don't care because i'll speak, i'll be your voice. >> correct, and, you know, there were a lot of people who bought that, and that was -- that made the message seem not just on target to them but real to them because the messenger was going to bust through the barriers necessary to carry it through. >> rose: but barack obama has observed and others as well, there's a difference in campaigning and governing, and
you can't -- you have to and certainly no later than january 20th, shift into governing. >> you know, people thought that donald trump would have to shift into president-elect mode. >> rose: or presidential, too. and, you know, not so much, i think. i think that -- i don't think he's concerned about the conventions and norms that other people say have to be followed. >> rose: by washington standards or generally political standards? >> correct. >> rose: so tweeting against hillary clinton today. >> yeah. >> rose: yeah. and, you know, i don't know that you should expect the style to be all that different after january 20th. i mean, only he knows. i don't know, but the evidence would suggest this is what works for me, this is how i operate, get used to it. >> rose: and for those who say, look, it's not presidential, it's not good for the country, you can't run the country this way, he basically says, well, watch? >> and more than that, i think the people around him say, have
things gone so well in the country the way it was being run for the last 30, 40 years? or if you're dissatisfied with that, why shouldn't you want a change in the way the country's run? >> rose: president obama in his interview with steve kroft with "60 minutes" this weekend says don't underestimate donald trump. >> well, yeah, i think we've seen a long road with carcasses on the side of the road of people who underestimated donald trump. >> rose: here's what's interesting. if you look at what his nominee said today and what he has said, the differences, what he says about russia and china, it all comes down to what one of his close friends said to me early on at the republican national convention, it's all transactional for him. >> it's the art of the deal. >> rose: it's the art of the deal. and how many times have i heard people say all you have to do is read the art of the deal and you will understand how he's going to behave.
>> i think one of the people who will tell you that is donald trump himself. it is about positioning yourself to get the best deal for the company or country, and i think people will have plenty of reason to doubt whether the style that he's operating with that we have been discussing is going to get you to the position to get the best deal for america, but, you know, i think he looks at the way business has been trance acted and said we're just going to do it differently. >> rose: i think this is where push comes to shove but is there evidence where he is prepared to change his mind? you have seen the c.i.a. director no nominee, the secrety of defense nominee, the secretary of state nominee, all in testimony draw a tougher line against russia than he has drawn. >> yeah. >> rose: can they convince him that he needs to get tougher other than simply to say if he's nice to me, i will be nice to
him. >> i think that's the great unanswered question. >> rose: i do, too. we won't-know. he may not know. i think he has an idea about u.s.-russia relations that they've gone too far south, that that's not good for the u.s. >> rose: that's what vladimir putin says, too, they have never been as bad as they are. >> and i think the disagreement will be whether he underestimates vladimir putin and his willingness to actually cooperate with the u.s. or whether he's simply engaged in an effort to, as john mccain thinks, build up russia by pushing down the united states. >> rose: does vladimir putin believe that for him to be influential, to have his sphere of influence, it has to come at the cost of the united states? >> exactly, right. i think we're at a point where there's a strategic alignment around the world now in which there is a united states that's still the dominant superpower
but there is a rising china and russia that's trying to reassert itself to have a seat at the table with the other two big guys, and that's the alignment around that table that's being worked out right now. >> rose: so there is a new world order of a kind. >> a different world order. >> rose: a different world order. it's exactly true about the chinese. it's the old principle. in the past, if there's a rising power, you know, the established power will suffer, you know. >> a zero-sum game. >> rose: a zero-sum game. and we have argued with the chinese and many people in this community, both in the business community and the international community have said it doesn't have to be that way. >> right. >> rose: in fact, we are better off if china is confident, not paranoid, and feels accepted and feels that they are a singularly, as they are, powerful nation with influence. >> right, and the question is can the three powers we're
talking about exist comfortably around that table together or is there a sense that if somebody is up, somebody else has to be down? but i think there was -- you know, i think there is been an emergence of this dynamic over the past couple of years without donald trump showing up on the scene to drive it home because you've certainly had a more assertive russia in starting in ukraine and crimea and going into syria and you certainly had a more assertive china in the south china sea and to some extent economically as well, obviously, so this power dynamic around the globe was shifting, anyway. donald trump walked in and sees this and he's got his own formula for dealing with it. >> rose:? insight in terms of people around him who have real influence? >> you know, that's also a little hard to tell. i think there is one big voice in the trump world and that's
donald j. trump's voice. >> rose: but you get the feeling he had been a loner and, in part, from queens to looking at manhattan and then looking at these established organizations and trying to play i'm good, too. >> well, i certainly thinks ehe likes the idea of confounding people in the establishment who thought they were better than he,. >> rose: ehe just did it in a huge way. >> he did it on a big political stage, but i think he did it previously in the manhattan business world. the guy from queens comes in to manhattan and beats the big guys at their own game. i think he likes that. i think that's why being an anti-establishment figure is not only appealing to him, it's a natural thing. >> rose: finally, this man that will be president of the united states in a week, just think about this, a week from tonight, our president is donald trump. you've seen and you know and
have known and interviewed lots of presidents as i have, give me some sense of him in terms of the public person, the private person. >> there is an enormous gap between the campaign rally version of donald trump and the sort of smaller setting version of donald trump. i mean, you know, there is much less of a bombast, much more rational conversation. but, you know, i think you have to say that they all come together in the form of a president and things that, you know, that happen publicly matter a lot because signal sending is really important, but there is the part of donald trump that is the -- >> rose: show guy. the showman part of donald trump or the marketer, i guess, and that's what most people know. >> rose: thank you jerry. jerry seib to hav of the "wall t journal." you can see the interview online and read it in the "wall street
journal" weekend edition. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: we begin with president obama as he marks his final days in the white house. he sat down with "60 minutes" correspondent steve kroft for his final interview in office. the president appeared on "60 minutes" a number of times since first declaring his candidacy in an interview with steve kroft in 2007. in his latest and final interview as president, president obama reflects on the past eight years and considers his legacy upon leaving the white house. h he also reflects on the 2016 election and president-elect donald trump. >> you have to admit that this is one of the strangest transitions in history. >> it's unusual. i'll agree with that. and i suspect the president-elect would agree with that. look, he is an unconventional candidate. i don't think there is anybody who's run a campaign like his successfully in modern history,
not that i can think of, and as a consequence, because he doesn't have the supports of many of the establishment in his own party, because he ran sort of an improvisational campaign -- >> can you run an improvisational presidency? >> i don't think so. and, so, now he's in the process of building up an organization, and we'll have to see how that . think the country deeply appreciates the fact that you have not spoken clearly, i think, probably what's on your mind in relation to the president-elect. ( laughter ) >> well, the people have spoken. and i don't want people to think we are condemning donald trump. but as you said earlier, it's
unusual. >> yeah. he seems to have spent a good deal of his time sending out tweets, you know, that the united states must strengthen and expand a its nuclear ability, that merril meryl stren overrated flunky. what's going on? >> you have to talk to him. first of all, i think everybody has to acknowledge don't underestimate the guy because he's going to be 45t 45th president of united states. one thing i said to him and would advise my republican friends and supporters around the country and congress, just make sure that, as we go forward, certain norms, certain institutional traditions don't get eroded because there is a reason they're in place. >> rose: "60 minutes" presents
barack obama eight years no the white house, will air sunday january 15th as part of an hour-long special broadcast. i'm pleased to have good friend and colleague steve kroft back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, cheamplet great to be here. >> rose: this has been remarkable. you and jeff goldberg of "the atlantic" are the boswells for barack obama. 14 interviews, 12 from the white house, over the eight years, annually a conversation. how has he changed? >> i don't think he's changed personally. i think he's like all of us in ten years, you get a few more wrinkles and grey hairs. i think that, when we saw him, i think he was tired. he said he had to work a lot harder last week than he thought he was going to, and they had a big party friday night. i don't know if that had anything to do with it. but he's tired, and it strikes
me -- this is sheer speculation -- but i think he's been going for such a long time on adrenaline -- > you know how that is. >> rose: yeah. and when you start to slow down sometimes it just whacks you and i think he maybe going through a little adrenaline withdrawal. >> rose: on january 21, he will be sleeping late. no alarms. is he simply going to recharge? >> i think so. he said he's not had time to sit back and reflect on it. he's got this book that he's going to write. so you think he'll probably just be collecting his thoughts and trying to figure out where he's going to go and what he wants to say with the book. i think, you know, he's going away for a spell with michelle and won't say where. you know, i have no idea. but i think he's going to be hard to find for a while. >> rose: he's ready to go? i think he's ready to go.
i think it's not happy about leaving under these circumstances but he's done a very good job publicly of sort of keeping those feelings to himself, but i think he's had enough. he he talked at some length about the fact that you just need to recharge, you know, that if you have been doing something for such a long time, it becomes hard to maintain the same level of energy and intensity that you had when you came in the job, and he thinks it's time for fresh legs. >> rose: so what does he think about the fresh legs that are coming in? >> well, i don't know. i mean, he's very -- he's been very measured and i think very restrained and civil about donald trump, and i think that privately as i mentioned and alluded to earlier, you know, we've heard that, privately, he's not quite so. >> rose: well, his legacy is
at take. >> no question about that. >> rose: the number one item for the republicans in congress is the defeat of obamacare which was one of his proudest achievements. >> right. i think he's philosophical about that. i think he believes that he was the first one to do it. i think it's always going to be part of his legacy, regardless of what happens to it afterwards. >> rose: and more than 20 million people got access to healthcare who did not have access. >> josh elliott pointed out to me this morning, appeared on npr, that it was the first time in history that black kids and white kids have exactly the same medical care, and that's not a small achievement. i mean, there have been some revolutionary things that have happened and i think it's going to be hard to unwind all of that, but we'll see. >> rose: talk about how he
feels about being there in terms of where he might have done better, specifically in terms of not content but message. >> i think he feels very strongly that he kind of dropped the ball, strangely enough, in the area of communication which he was so strong at. >> rose: as an orator. ight. and i think there was a great deal of frustration that he was not able to lengthen his coattails and help some of the democrats, and i think there is legitimate criticism that he didn't do enough to help the democratic party. i'm not sure exactly. he certainly spoke a lot. he raised a lot of money for them, but somehow he was not able to bring the party, particularly in the congressional and midterm elections, they got what could. >> rose: an excerpt, "60 minutes" on sunday night, steve kroft interviewing president obama, part of a
one-hour special on "60 minutes." here they talk about the frustration or the inability to communicate as he as he might have. >> didn't change washington. i changed those things that were in my direct control. i mean, look, i'm proud of the fact that two weeks ago we were probably the first administration in modern history who hasn't had a major scandal in the white house. in that sense, we changed some things. i would have liked to have gotten the one last supreme court justice in there. >> couldn't even get a hearing. but we couldn't get a hearing. trying to get the other side of the aisle to work with us on issues, in some cases that they professed originally an interest in, and then saying, hold on a second, you guys used to think this was a good idea, and now just i'm supporting it, you can't change your mind, but they did. and what they did made me
appreciate, and i've said this before, but this is on me, part of the job description also is shaping public opinion, and we were very effective and i was very effective in shaping public opinion around my campaigns, but there were big stretches while governing while, even though we were doing the right thing, we weren't able to mobilize public opinion firmly enough behind us to weaken the resolve of the republicans to stop opposing us or to cooperate with us. there were times during my presidency where i lost the p.r. battle. >> rose: oh, that's fascinating. you look at gridlock that happened in washington, couldn't have a grand bargain with john boehner, all of that. >> 2010, it started early with scott brown in massachusetts. remember that? >> rose: yes. and which kind of messed with
their majority. >> rose: the majority and therefore they couldn't prevent a filibuster. >> yeah. >> rose: but what's interesting here to me is that, clearly, you know, i mean, the frustration, because he wanted to be bipartisan and do all that stuff, and he now recognizes he has a p.r. problem, does he recognize what he could have done to have -- >> i think that he -- he said this -- i think he feels that he couldn't do anything. i think he feels that he tried a lot, and none of it worked, and that mitch mcconnell and the republicans had made what he called -- come up with a brilliant strategy which was just to resist, resist, resist, resist. >> rose: deny him reelection. and absolutely march in lock step. somebody said they didn't even want to have pictures taken. people said, well we should have
reached out and have him over to the house. he said they didn't want to have a photograph with me because they would have a challenge. >> rose: somebody said you should have had a cink with mitch mcconnell. >> mitch mcconnell comes up a lot. >> rose: why, because he was the republican leader? >> for blocking the supreme court nomination mostly. you know, he did this a year in advance. >> rose: yeah. he started plotting and he paid no political price for it in the end, and it's true. and he cited that as an example of how things, bad things have gotten. >> rose: he views it as a successful. successful presidency certainly. >> yes. >> rose: does he view it as a great presidency? >> you know, i asked him about his legsy, and he's right about
this, it's going to take a while. it's going to take ten years to find out all what happened in this administration. the point he makes at clean energy and the fact it established itself now, it will be hard to get rid of in that they moved world opinion to move away from fossil fuels. i think that's something, that's part of the legacy that will grow or not grow. >> rose: the agreement they had in paris. >> yes, and some of the initiatives at a started under the brain project and other things that could really produce huge results, you know, things he encouraged that never really got that much publicity or attention. so you don't know. there is a lot of things you do in the course of a presidency that pay off long term and probably things that you think will be really great that don't work out so well. >> rose: it's interesting he
pointed out we had no major scandal here. i don't know they had any scandal in the white house mo speak of. >> i can't remember it. >> rose: at the same time people always talk about dignity, he handled the office with great dignity, there was great dignity about the family, the daughters. >> no question about it, i think he handled himself incredibly well and even his political opponents would give him that. he's been -- he set a high bar. >> rose: yeah. as he said in the interview. >> rose: but you don't have any idea what he thinks about trump other than he's a guy that won the presidency against great odds when he ran in 2008, reelected when he was not that popular against mitt romney, and here's trump who surprises everybody and wins. he seems to have some respect for the idea of winning the presidency. >> oh, i think he does. it's like something that exists
between policemen or football players or baseball players. >> rose: whether you throw a no-hitter or not. >> right. >> rose: or in your case, if you have been below scratch. >> how did you do this? i'm sure that the president asked him all the questions that the press is asking him during that first meeting. so i think -- he wasn't shy about talking about donald trump before he was elected. i mean, there is a lot of stuff -- >> rose: he was vicious on the campaign trail. >> there is a lot of stuff on the record, and didn't take him seriously at all. but i was thinking about this much earlier today and trying to figure out why he is responding with these sort of muted tones with trump. the one thing, he's a presidential scholar, obama.
he knows a lot about history. he knows a lot about the various characters who have been in that office, and there have been some real characters in that office under strange circumstances, and i think he is cutting him some slack to see kind of what happens. >> rose: does he think of any previous president is a kind of model for him? because he's often talked about his admiration for george bush 41's foreign policy. >> right. i've not had those conversations in terms of who he respects with him. he had a soft spot and talked at great lengths about lincoln and has had a very warm spot for ronald reagan in his ability to lead, in his ability to martial public opinions. >> rose: said he was a transformational president, much to the dismay of bill clinton. >> right. i don't know what he thinks of bill clinton.
i don't know. i would have to have him on a psychiatrist's couch to find that out. >> rose: but beyond p.r., i mean, lots of people say, you know, we didn't get the message right when they talk about the failure. he believes the content was right. he has to feel strongly about the iran nuclear deal. >> he does. very strong. he invested a lot of capital in it and is convinced it's a good thing and i think he's very concerned about what's going to happen in israel. >> rose: therefore, the resolution from the u.n. which the u.s. did not veto for the first time. >> right. it was sort of a futile gesture because he knew that trump was going to come in and change the policy, and there were certain things that he couldn't stop, but i think he wanted to be on the record and send up a flare to say, look, i don't think this is going to work out, and i think -- we'll see. >> rose: what does he say about the 2016 campaign?
i mean, he invested his energy and time and especially in places that were swing states where there was a significant black vote, north carolina being one. >> we talked about the system is broken, not working. you have two candidates who are of the worst popularity of any presidential candidates running against each other ever, and you had the winner saying that the system was rigged. >> rose: and that he, barack obama, was the worst president in history. >> right, and i think h he does think the system is broken. he said he's going to invest a lot of time in looking at maybe the reapportionment issues and trying to figure out a way that that system might be improved and that -- and voting rights and some of these issues, but he
lays, i think, the blame largely at the doorstep of media and technology, the combination between the two. >> rose: it seems to me like an interesting guy. i've interviewed him two or three times but don't really know him. he loves sports like you and i, culture, movies. >> you can have a conversation with him about anything. >> rose: about history, politics. >> right. at, in all the times that i'veim interviewed him, he has never once said, wait a minute, i need to check that with me aides, or i can't give you an answer on that because i haven't been briefed on that. none of that, which you find all the time when you're talking to politicians, let alone the president of the united states.
he is in command. he understands the issues. he absorbs stuff. he keeps them in his head. he can tell you why he made a decision and give you a four minute or five minute answer and that's probably the short version. he's very smart. he knew what he was doing in that office. whether you liked it or not -- you asked me just a minute ago, i think one of the things -- and sometimes people will say one of the arguments is he's not been a strong leader -- >> rose: whether america is retreating is a question that comes up now, and they are, whether a person, the secretary of state, secretary of defense, the chief of staff, are pushing back on that idea, and he is, too, i think. >> he is. and as he said in his last news conference, unless he had one today, that he looked at this issue and looked at it and we had just gotten out of two wars,
spent a couple trillion dollars and he was not going to put troops on the ground in syria because he didn't think it would accomplish anything. it's not a crazy idea. >> rose: yeah. actually, i think it's probably a pretty realistic idea that we did not -- not that much we could do without risking military. anyway, he stuck by it and said i'm not going to do this. >> rose: he made an assumption and kept to it. >> yeah. i went back and read all the transcripts of all the interviews before we did this a month or so ago and i was struck by how he has done or tried to do pretty much everything he said he was going to do. he hasn't had any big swings of opinion, other than the fact that ehe sort of acknowledges now that he really misunderstood and miscalculated the level of political partisanship in
washington. but he said he wanted to, you know, fix relations with cube and iran and he did even though a lot of people didn't like either one of them. he pushed through the healthcare and people said well, he wasted all this political capital, but as it turns out i don't think he would have gotten it through if he hadn't done what he did. >> rose: and he fixed the economy. >> and he fixed the economy. >> rose: guantanamo is a commitment he made. still there are some prisoners at quan tan mo. >> that's a good case of not getting any help or support for his positions in congress. moving some of them to the united states went nowhere with the congress. so without arguing the merits, he tried very hard to do the things he said he was going to do. some of them have been successful, some of them have not. >> rose: and those he blames himself for not selling it well enough. >> he blames himself for everything. >> rose: really?
he takes responsibility for everything. that's slightly different. >> rose: yes. if you ask him a question, don't you have some responsibility, he says, yes, of course i do. >> rose: harry truman said the buck stops here. >> right. yeah, so i think he accepts responsibility for everything. i don't think -- blame is a different thing. i tried really hard during the course of this interview to get him to take back -- i spent a lot of time actually talking about the red line, syria. >> rose: spent a lot of time trying to get him to what? acknowledge he shouldn't have said it? >> yes. not his policy or his feels about anything other than the fact, if you could take those words back, would you? >> rose: and he said? it's a long, complicated answer. >> rose: all right. he sort of did. >> rose: ehe said what? he said, i can understand why
people would think that, but to me it was more important to let the syrians know that if they had -- if they used chemical weapons that it would change the equation, and he said that if they had not removed the weapons, then he probably would have launched an attack. but in fact they did remove the weapons. >> they did. >> rose: therefore he didn't have to make the attack or didn't have to go to congress to get. >> right. >> rose: that's the question, too, because a lot of people -- it was his credibility. it wasn't the fact of getting or not getting the chemical weapons out. it was saying if they were using chemical weapons, we're going to attack. >> he said they'd reevaluate. he said we're not going to put boots on the ground, but if chemical weapons were used, they'd reevaluate that or it would be -- you know, it could be a game changer. >> rose: did his farewell address say anything to you that you didn't, a, understand about him?
did it raise anything for you? >> i think it reinforced a lot of things. i just spent -- a lot of the stuff we talked about in our interview was in the farewell address. it reinforced a lot of things. i think it reinforced how good a speaker he was and captured the -- he can really deliver a speech and he is really good at shaping a speech and communicating in that format and i think what we talked about earlier, the dignity and the grace shown through, i think, the business with michel with ms very well handled. >> rose: michelle. emotional. you saw it in the farewell. they were eight years in the white house. formative time for their kids. he said he's ready to get out of there and i think she's even more ready to get out of there.
>> i think so. >> rose: tell me how you see that relationship, because she was part of the original interview in 2008. >> yes. i think that she is -- i think she varies a lot of weight in that relationship. i think she has a very strong personality and i think that he has a tremendous amount of respect for her and i wouldn't be surprised a little fear. >> rose: is there's our headline, croft says obama fears michelle ( laughter ) >> i think he doesn't want to upset her. i think if they got in a stand-up fight, he would win but i think he goes out of his way to keep her happy and i think that's important because he has so much respect for her and because she's done such a great job with the kids, i think that's part of it. you get a intense that they're a real family and that dynamic is at work. >> rose: i mean, every night, dinner together. >> yeah. >> rose: there is also this
conversation -- >> she said when we first interviewed them in shtick, in 2007, he came back, he was living in this little apartment, sharing with some other congressman or senator, and he came home on the weekends and had to do the dishes and make the beds. >> rose: when was the last time you did the dishes and made the beds? >> i said did you ever spend time in the house in chicago? he said i pay the mortgage on it. i said, do you still make the beds? he said, no, i'm done with that. >> rose: he said that about the dog, is he sleeping with you? no. walking the dog? no. ( laughter ) walking and talking with barack obama. here it is. >> what are you going to miss most about this place? >> this walk is one of them. well, in a way, h he told us his family life hat thrived
living and working under the white house roof but that his wife and daughter didn't feel the same way about life in what harry truman called the finest prison in the world. >> how do they feel? they're ready to go. the girls, obviously, they are now up in age in which the constraints of secret service and bubbles and all that stuff has gotten pretty old. michelle never fully took to the scrutiny. i mean, she thrived as a first lady but it's not her preference. >> he was the hardest sell. she was the hardest sell and she never fully embraced being in the public spotlight, which is ironic, given how good she is. having said that, she would acknowledge and i certainly feel that we just have a lot of memories here. our kids grew up here. some of our best friends have been made here in this place.
there have been moments that were highlights for us that, you know, are going to be hard to duplicate. >> she's glad you did it, though? >> she is now. i think i've said this story, before. she used to say to our friends, barack is exactly the kind of guy i want to be president, i just wish he didn't want to do it when i was married to him. ( laughter ) >> but you're still all right, everything's okay? >> as far as i know. i better check later. yeah. >> see what i mean? >> rose: yeah, that was perfect. he must know, also, that the judgment of the political press, for the most part, during the 2016 campaign is the best speechmaker was michelle and not him or even donald trump. >> and she may get the biggest book advance. >> rose: and she may get the biggest book advance because hers is the story not told and
the unique observation, and so have you, any friend, had a unique observation. thank you for coming. >> my pleasure, my friend. >> rose: steve kroft on "60 minutes" sunday night. thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org