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tv   The Obama Years with Brian Williams  MSNBC  January 16, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PST

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out of nowhere. >> the crowd spreads out literally as far as the eye can see. >> he had something unique to offer the american people. to offer the american people. >> you are looking at the 44th president of the united states. >> i barrack hussein obama. >> the opposition to barrack obama was so intense and was so ugly. >> the president straight out said elections have consequences and i'm one. >> he's a cool guy. he has proven that out over 8 years. >> he truly was a global phenomenon. >> you'll not see a president like this for a very long time. >> 239 years after this nations founding our union is not yet perfect but we are getting closer. >> thoughtful. he was intelligence. makes us look good around the world. who bears the office grandly.
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>> yes we can. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. we are one people. a united states of america. >> he is a thoroughly modern man. a product of the world we live in right now with roots from kenya to indonesia, from hawaii to harvard law school. able to quote jefferson and jay-z to equal effect. and we got to see a gifted communique to honing his message. >> there is not a black america and a white america and latino america and asian america, there's the united states of america. >> well, how are you holding up? >> you know, physically i feel
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great but my throat has gone on strike a little bit. >> what was the doctors recommendation? >> shut up. >> and how easy is that in the midst of a presidential campaign. >> in going back through our archives of what will here after be known as the obama years we found over a dozen interviews from when he was a virtual unknown to president. then from one term to two. on a bus in new hampshire. inside the armored limousine in washington. ordering fast food and on air force one. hopscotching the country. but it's at the 2004 democratic national convention in boston where barrack hussein obama begins his phenomenal rise. until that moment, hardly anyone knew his name and his middle name, same as the ousted iraqi
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dictator was hardly a selling point politically. >> tonight is a particular honor for me because let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. >> of course he looks like no other and that was part of the point, after all. >> the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that america has a place for him too. >> his message and his delivery that night got national attention. >> the pun dents like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. red states for republicans, blue states for democrats but i got news for them too we worship an awesome god in the blue states and we don't like federal agents poking around in the libraries in the red states. >> no one, no one since martin luther king jr. had inspired me the way that barrack obama inspired me. >> my goodness. i just heard someone refer to the white house. what can you do about that kind of thing spreading.
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>> i go back home as soon as this convention is over. we're loading up our kids in an rv, we're traveling around to county fairs, eating ice cream and taking our two girls to the swimming pool. >> barrack obama, tomorrow morning everybody is going to know who he is. >> here's this guy. a state senator. is his star on the rise with a bullet. >> a rise so swift that less than three years later he makes a run for the highest office in the land. >> i stand before you today to announce my candidacy for the president of the united states of america. >> did i think he had a shot at it? absolutely not. who did? it was a nice story. he didn't even have a full term under his belt as a senator. an african american. it ain't going to happen. >> but by january of '08, barrack obama pulls off a stunning win in the iowa caucus and rides high into new hampshire. voters there turn around and deal him a devastating defeat.
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obama reacts by turning his concession speech into a rallying cry. >> for when we have faced down impossible odds. when we have been told we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people, yes we can. yes we can. yes we can. yes we can. >> it was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they braised trails toward freedom. >> he did that song and that video on his own. >> it turns out that the coolest stuff generally does happen organically. the hope poster was on his own.
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it spoke to the energy out there. >> millennials that are not reliable voters were inspired by something. >> he has lived in so many different cultures. grew up as a black kid in hawaii with two white grandparents. it enables him to view the country from all of these different vantage points. he can understand the way a white midwesterner thinks and feels because he grew up with them. >> in his story and in what he was saying, there was a little bit of so many americans and he tapped into that. >> on november 4th, 2008, those americans helped to carry him to a sweeping victory. >> we have news. an african american has broken the barrier as old as the republic. you are looking at the 44th president of the united states. the celebrations begin. >> i think that everybody no matter what your political preferences are, no matter what your background, it was a unifying moment for this
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country. >> i think for the country there was a great exhale. people felt good about it. >> if there is anyone out there who still doubts that america is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. ♪ >> mitch mcconnell and a lot of the republicans made a politically shrewd but incredibly cynical decision to try to block everything he ever did.
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it is my great personal honor to present the 44th president of this united states. >> on january 20th of 2009 in front of over 1.8 million people t largest crowd ever, barrack obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the united states. >> i was sitting overlooking the mall and all you can see clear down to the washington monument were people. out to watch this moment in history. >> i do swear to preserve protect and defend the constitution of the united states. >> so help you god. >> so help me god. >> congratulations mr. president. >> inauguration day was remarkably special for all of us
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that worked so hard. >> you knew that he was entering office in such tough historically difficult circumstances. >> this inspiring moment in our history is happening against a disspiriting and bleak backdrop. as obama takes the reigns the nation is in the midst of not one but two wars and on the edge of a great depression. >> barrack obama inherits a nation literally coming apart at the seams. >> not in generations has wall street absorbed the number of body blows it took today. >> the country was losing 750,000 jobs a month. think about that. whole neighborhoods were just collapsing under the weight of mortgage default. people were losing their homes, their livelihoods, their 401ks were being evaporated. >> the american people were in an economic predicament and what a leader does is give people a sense of security and comfort and confidence. >> he begins work on a stimulus plan before taking office.
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the opposition is massive and instant. >> it hardly makes sense to provide money to nations that don't need it and for those that do, what will make them spend it wisely. >> he walks into a republican establishment that meets on inauguration day to plot complete obstruction. >> a group of members from the other side of the aisle met in the capitol and said we will not let him succeed. >> he was frustrated. he was never like obsessed by that. it was like okay that kind of sucks but what's plan b. >> obama goes on something of a charm offensive holding a series of meetings with republicans. >> some of you had a chance to enjoy the white house party.
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i saw boehner drinking eggnog. i don't know about the rest of you. >> i was drinking wine. >> it doesn't succeed in charming everyone. >> called back down to the white house for yet another meeting of leaders both sides and that was the meeting in which the president straight up said, eric, elections have consequences and i'm one so we're going to do it my way. >> the bill is passed without objection. >> with democrats in control of congress the stimulus bill passes despite overwhelming republican opposition. >> the president and his team made the decision what they thought republicans would be for and unilaterally decided that's what was going to be in the bill. not what we had proffered and once we realized none of our ideas were going to be in the bill we said forget it. >> they decided that they couldn't work with him. because if they worked with him he would look bipartisan. and he would look moderate.
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so they wanted him to look as a sort of partisan extremist. that's their stated goal and they actually succeeded pretty well in that. >> in those first several months obama takes on wall street reform. the mortgage crisis and orchestrates the auto bailout. >> the auto companies must not squander this chance to reform bad management practices. >> you hear a lot of people expressing concern that our new president is taking on too much. >> what exactly would you have me give up? should i simply allow the u.s. auto industry to vanish into the either? >> the bigger story, our politics had changed for good. even the appearance of cooperation had vanished. >> i can't spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead. it is what -- the facts are the facts.
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what's the secret to still dancing at 106. >> just keep moving. >> yeah. >> i'm so happy. >> we are happy to have you. >> a black president. >> look at him. right there. >> that's me. >> it's an nbc news tradition going back decades to spend a day in the life of the white
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house and early on in the obama administration we arrived with dozens of cameras and an army of producers. >> how is your day going mr. president. >> right. >> the young first family brings a freshness to the people's house from their two young daughters to a dynamic first lady. >> i have a wife trying to make sure that i keep my head on straight. we have soccer games and parent teacher conferences. >> did you underestimate being uprooted from chicago. >> the main thing was how would the girls adjust. so far, knock on wood they are happy and healthy and well adjusted and not full of themselves.
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>> he doesn't know how to swim. >> the president finds a workable balance for himself and his family inside the white house. outside it's another story. though the republicans are in the minority in congress it's still a fight every day and with the midterm elections just two years away, the clock is ticking to enact his agenda. >> that is what you should be known for and obama resisted that and said i pledged that i would first do health care and i'll stick to that. >> this is a good idea when
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senator john mccain proposed it in the campaign, it's a good idea now and we should all embrace it. >> we the people are tired of run away federal spending in washington d.c. >> the relationship between the president and republicans is at a low point in september 2009 but when obama lays out his health care proposal to a joint session of congress it hits rock bottom. >> the president of the united states. >> in the middle of live coverage, in the middle of americans watching their president, these two words pierced the president's speech. >> the reforms i'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. >> you lie! >> never happened before. and it tells you a lot about the opposition to barrack obama that
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it was so intense and it was so ugly that it would even make itself into that setting. >> for black america it was the ultimate symbol of disrespect. it was the ultimate symbol that these guys are never going to accept that he's the president. they're never going to give him the honor or the respect that the president is due. >> despite republicans best efforts the affordable care act forever known as obamacare is signed into law in march of 2010. vice president joe biden sums up the achievement in his own unique way. as obama navigates washington his cool no drama demeanor comes off to sum as aloof and detached. his critics say he is introspective, operates more from the head than the heart and they complain he doesn't use the perks of the presidency to grease the legislative wheels. >> it's a big deal if a member
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of congress and his or her spouse or significant other are asked to come and visit with the president and the first lady for a social outing, a dinner. that rarely happened under the obamas. >> when he was looking for a pick up basketball game or to round out a foursome on the golf course this president had often his trip director, his personal assistant, friends from chicago. >> plague golf was a safe place for him which he did largely with people who were his friends and i think he had a strategy in advance. no new friends. i'm not going to make close friends with people that did not know me before i was president because that cannot be help but be effected by the fact that i am president and they're not. >> no one could have known back in april of 2011 that the burden of the job includes a secret high risk, high reward mission
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to capture or kill bin laden and at the height of the drama the president has to appear at a social event in washington and has to make eight pier as if everything is in fine. >> a couple of people went to the oval office to show him a video they put together for a speech they used last night. >> what we didn't know then is that inside the oval office the commander and chief is on the phone with special forces command ready to launch the mission. >> you had to go have fun at the correspondents dinner. seth meyers makes a joke about bin laden. >> people think bin laden is hiding but every day from 4:00 to 5:00 he hosts a show on cspan. >> even when we look back on the video tape of that night, there's no real depiction that there's something afoot. >> that was a little bit of acting going on there because my
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mind was elsewhere. >> i could see at the head table the president was laughing. it was a pretty remarkable poker face so i was as surprised, if not more surprised than anybody. >> the following afternoon the president and his national security team finalized plans on the secret mission. helicopters are in the air less than an hour later. and then at 11:35 that evening he makes a stunning announcement. >> good evening. tonight 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. >> on the one year anniversary of the bin laden raid we had the rare opportunity to talk the president into a corner. the same corner of the very same room where he sat with his national security team and watched the raid in real time. a moment immortalized in that
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iconic photo. >> did you know to listen or did you surmise when you heard it that that was the call sign for the man you were after. >> we knew that was the call sign and when we heard that, they felt they had identified jeronamo that was the first moment and then kia. >> if anyone doubted his medal as a foreign policy national security president this was the guy that oversaw the operation that killed this person that was responsible for one of our great national tragedies. >> as he enters his second term he has brought almost 130,000 american servicemen and women home from the two wars he inherited but he chooses to take the war to another place and ramps up an unsparing drone war against terrorist targets. it's an air war without pilots at risk but it's an air war none the less and there are
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>> i invited luther, my anger translater to join me here tonight. we count on the press to shed light on the most important issues of the day. >> and we can count on fox news toer the identify all white people with some nonsense. sharia law is coming to cleveland. >> from the beginning the issue of race is never far from the surface during barrack obama's presidency. we talked about it on the campaign trail back in '08.
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>> some wish to define you by race. using titles or labels like first african american victor in the iowa caucuses and that's not necessarily how you see yourself. how do you reconcile with the two? >> i don't think they're contradictory. there's no doubt that there will be people who draw conclusions about my victory in iowa that are positive and they say look this is a sign of the progress the country is made. and ultimately that's not what is going to be the presidency. >> inspiring black america and get the vote but he needed to be palatable to white america so he wouldn't be seen as this man that was going to come in. >> and the unavoidable issue of race presents a big challenge early on in his candidacy. >> we bombed iraq, we killed -- >> footage emerged of the
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president's past making some comments about america that were deeply upsetting to a lot of people. rightly so. >> the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. america's chickens coming home to roost. >> with the future of his 2008 campaign at risk, obama addresses reverend wrights comments in a speech his aids say he had been thinking about his entire life. >> as imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. i can no more disown him than i can disown my white grandmother a woman that loves me as much as she loves anything in this world but a woman that once confessed her fear of black men that passed her by on the street. these people are part of me and they are part of america. this country that i love.
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>> he spoke movingly and openly and emotionally about his early life. it worked because people saw into barrack obama's soul and they liked him. >> turn that around in a single speech. in a single address he helped craft i think gave one of the more important speeches on race we heard in modern times. >> so help he god. >> congratulations mr. president. >> but we learned that electing a black president doesn't end racism. >> questions of racism aside from the beginning there's been a determined effort by many to delegitimize the nation's first african american president. >> place of birth. you know, perhaps it's going to say hawaii. perhaps it's going to say kenya. >> mr. president you're an american-born christian and yet a fifth of the people just about, believe you're a muslim. >> well, look, brian, i would
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say that i can't spend all my time with a birth certificate plastered on my forehead. the facts are the facts. >> he's not eligible. it's not that he's black. it's that he's foreign. birtherism is racism. >> and racism comes roaring back into the national conversation after the 2012 killing of 17-year-old trayvon martin in florida. and president obama confronts it head on. >> when trayvon martin was first shot i said this could have been my son. another way of saying that is trayvon martin could have been me 35 years ago. there's very few african american men in this country that haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping at a department store.
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that includes me. >> his comments on trayvon martin are powerful and profound. in ways that you don't normally hear presidents talk. >> and then on the 50th anniversary of the march for voting rights from selma to montgomery alabama, the first african american president marches side by side with congressman lewis who has a young man was beaten to within an inch of his life by state troopers at that same bridge a half century earlier. >> you recognize the fact that people gave blood and some people hurt and i think he recognized the fact that maybe if it hadn't been for selma that he wouldn't have been elected president. >> we will remember these early
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travellers and draw strength from their example and hold firmly to the words of the profit isaiah, those who hope in the lord will renew their strength. they will soar on the wings like eagles. they will run and not grow weary they will walk -- >> he is that physical embodiment of what martin luther king jr. predicted in 1964 could be a black vpt in 25 years which sounded insane when he said that but now you have barrack obama the actual black president and he's coming there on this jubilee year anniversary of the march over the bridge. >> it was this rare moment when somebody who in public life is so disciplined but he's crying. >> and they need all of us right now.
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the only time you see him really unguarded is in front of children. both he and michelle obama are completely at ease and their most fun selfs in front of kids. >> high five. >> december 14th, 2012, president obama gets word about a shooting. >> good evening from new town connecticut which just might be the saddest place of earth tonight. >> we've got lots of parents looking for their children just waiting for word. >> it looks like many, many fatalities and these are all young first and second graders. the president just kind of put his hands over his face and was just quite. >> those that died today were children. beautiful little kids between
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the ages of 5 and 10 years old. >> anybody that saw the president after newtown will tell you that they have never seen him as distraught as he was. >> this evening michelle and i will do what i know every parent in america will do which is hug our children a little tighter. and will remind how deeply we love one another but there's are families in connecticut that cannot do that tonight and they need all of us right now. >> it was this rare moment when somebody who in public life is so disciplined. is very careful about what he says and how he presents himself but he is crying. >> i will do everything in my power as president to help. >> when we see this modern man show emotion it's usually when he is being forced to speak to the latest tragedy so many
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remember where they happened where we watch the president react as a parent. >> something that just stripped him bear. >> and doing that in a way we were allowed to grieve with him as a father in the moment of his greatest national service in this country. >> bind up their wounds. >> to witness these little children being murdered, that was very painful for him and for the american community. he said later that sometimes he would wake up at night thinking about what happened to these little children. >> and that really convinced him even though the odds were long to try at some efforts at common sense gun safety. >> we also just to give you a
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sense of what we have done so far. >> a month after the shooting in sandy hook, vice president joe biden proposes a set of gun laws, opinion polls show widespread support but in april, four months after newtown the senate under crippling pressure from the gun lobby fails to pass the bill. >> unfortunately mr. president this legislation oddly would do nothing to prevent such tragedies going forward. >> i've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. my question is, a victory for who? a victory for what? victory for not doing something that 90% of americans, 80% of republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? it begs the question, who are we here to represent? >> it's the most desperate i think i ever saw him.
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>> a lot of the frustrations from congress you saw encapsulated in his reaction and the failure to do more about gun safety. >> the mass shootings continue and in june of 2015 they hit close to home for president obama an acquaintance of him, south carolina state senator and reverend is shot in cold blood in a charleston church. >> police are searching for the gunman that walked into one of the nation's oldest and most prominent black churches and killed nine people. >> how do i give. >> later that week the president flies to charleston to deliver his eulogy. church historian liz ols terkte there at the funeral. >> that's a day i will never forget. that friday when obama came to
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charleston, you could not believe the electricity that engulfed the hall when he came in. it was just like the coming of jesus. >> nation out of this terrible tragedy. god has visited grace upon us. for he has allowed us to see where we have been blind. >> he gives this beautiful speech that still got the barrack obama sense of hope and lack of rigor. >> he's talking about grace. he talked about love. he talked about peace. he talked about all of those words and then i'm saying oh my god. >> and then the president does what so few would ever dream of doing, especially on national television. >> amazing grace. >> he sees a potentially healing
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moment. >> amazing grace. >> though he told his wife he might do it, no one knows it's coming and he decides to take the lead. >> there was this moment when he was silent. in the middle of a peach to go silent. ♪ amazing grace how sweet the sound ♪ ♪ that saved a wretched like me ♪ >> in that instant we witness one of the moments of the obama
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>> you're not the only ones.
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>> barrack obama leaves public life at a odd time for this country. despite statistics showing progress, many don't feel their lives are any better. our one time manufacturing base which made us the engine of the world has given way in many cases to low paying jobs. our politics have believed our nation in two and we so often seem paralyzed making it hard to accomplish anything in washington. >> there's missed opportunities. he'd be the first-person to tell you he didn't have the secret sauce to get them to put down their swords and work together better. >> that helped the argument about a crumbling and stagnant america take hold. especially when we look around and take stock of what we once built for ourselves. and how the dysfunction in washington has even left many of our roads built during the eisenhower years ignored and
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crumbling. and in 2010, watching those live images of oil pouring out of the bp well and into the gulf of mexico with no way to stop it for months was for many a metaphor for an america in decline. overseas the unrest in the middle east has continued to boil through the president's two terms. in particular, he's been condemned for his inaction at a critical point in syria. >> president obama had said he was going to insist the red line would be drawn if bashar al assad was found to have used chemical weapons against his people then america would respond. >> he drew a red line and didn't enforce it. it changed how people saw him. >> in an interview for vanity fair president obama admitted the situation in syria haunts him. he has said often he is most
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proud of his title as commander and chief. his time with servicemen and women hasn't all been publicized, however. he has made numerous secret visits to walter reid to spend time with wounded vets. and when we spoke at normandy on the 70th anniversary of d-day, he was thinking of family as well, particularly his grandfather. >> it's quite a distinction to be able to say that a family member fought in patton's third army. >> my grandfather passed away over 20 years ago. he would have been proud to see what he was a part of so long ago was now being celebrated by a grandson who is the commander and chief of the greatest military on earth. i think he would have been pretty proud and probably more than a little surprised. >> and the president managed a few surprises of his own in foreign policy.
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reestablishing relations with cuba and opening a dialogue with iran which lead to a controversial deal to halt their nuclear program. and at home unemployment has been cut almost in half. 20 million new people have health insurance. marriage equality has been legalized across this country. and a history making climate deal has been signed as well. as he leaves office more than 50% of americans approve of his handling of the economy and nearly 6 in 10 approve of president obama himself. and for those wanting to know what his election means to millions of americans, this one white house photo tells the story. >> i think for a generation of african american kids, actually any kids, they will grow up thinking that presidents are african american. there's no impetment to being president of the united states. >> do you think he was as much a president of our current life as
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any we have had? >> barrack obama as president was cool. you can't say that about many presidents and if being cool is a emblem of being a president of your time, he sure was. >> obamacare is great. >> he is the first true social media president. using it often to share the political, the personal, and his play list. ♪ i'm here with the president >> how good is that? >> his sense of humor helps to humanize him over two terms in office. >> let's get this out of the way. what did you come here to plug? >> have you heard of the affordable care act? >> i heard about that. that's the thing that doesn't work. >> he has the kind of performance chops and comic timing that even some veteran life long performers lack. >> as the father of two teenager daughters i know the whole time you're just like and then he said, girl, i couldn't believe it.
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>> he's about to go from commander and chief to couch commander. >> [ bleep ] you chuck todd. >> obama. >> he and his family became very important not just to our politics but to our culture over the last 8 years. >> there will be plenty of time in the coming years to look back at the obama family in the white house. they have raised two spectacular daughters that are living by their parents example. >> we're going to the blue room. >> michelle, lavonne robinson, girl of the southside. [ applause ] >> a new generation sets it's sights higher because it has you
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as a role model. >> there has been no personal scandal. this has been a president whose behavior has been important to him. >> early on he called himself no drama obama and i think over eight years he demonstrated that he was serious. there was no personal scandal that attached to him and when you think about the presidency in recent decades, that's an achievement. >> i think history will be very kind to the president. that he never gave up. he never gave in. never became bitter or hostile. he kept the faith. and just kept moving ahead. >> i was on the convention floor during his speech this year in philadelphia and i remarked that i hadn't voted for him either time but watching him sort of recap his own presidency i was happy and proud at a he had been our president for the last eight years. >> what i'll miss is his grace and his -- the way he operates
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under pressure. i'll miss nuisance. i'll miss his thoughtfulness. >> it has been the honor of my life to serve you. i won't stop. in fact, i will be right there with you as a citizen for all my remaining days. >> i'll miss him saying the right thing at the right moment. he has been a steady hand. >> the job changes those that hold it and they intern change the country while they're in it. the president insists it's been worth the journey. >> i do have one final ask of you as your president. the same thing i asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. i'm asking you to believe. not in my ability to bring about change but in yours. yes we can. yes we did. yes we can. thank you, god bless you.
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>> thank you, my friend. we know that it didn't end well. what we forget sometimes is that it did not start well. richard nixon was elected in 1968, re-elected in 1972. that meant that his inauguration day for a second term was in january 1973. it was his inauguration date, january 20th, '73. almost spooky to look back at that day now because of the way we know the way that term ended up. his inauguration day was 42 degrees that day, a stiff wind blowing. there he was getting sworn in along with spear rowing a knew. we know within nine months of that inauguration, spiro agnew would be resigning in disgrace while facing corruption charges.

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