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tv   Today  NBC  November 16, 2015 10:00am-10:59am EST

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goals. hopes for diploma in syria have been dashed before. there are a number of ways this push could falter. there are still disagreements with the parties including the most critically over the fate of who does not have a role in the syrian future. his war against the syrian people is the primary root cause of this crisis. what is different this time and gives us some degree of hope is that as i said for the first time all he countries on the sides of the syrian conflict agree on a process needed to end this war. while we are clear eyed about the difficult growth still ahead, the united states in partnership with our coalition is going to remain relen ess on all fronts, military, human tear and diplomatic. we have the right strategy and
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with that, i'm going to take some questions and i'll begin with jerome of afc. mr. president, 129 people were killed friday night. isil gained responsibility for the massacre sending the message. equation on security change. >> keep in mind what we have to do. we have a military strategy that invo es putting enormous
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strikes that has put assistance and training on the ground with iraqi forces and we're now working are syrian forces as il and cut off supply lines. we've been working to reduce their financing capabilities, the oil that they're trying to ip outside. we're taking strikes against high value targets including most recently against the individual who was on the video executing civilians who had already been captured as well as libya. it's not just iraq and syria. so on the military front we are continuing to accelerate what we do as we find additional partners on the ground that are effective we work with them more closely. i've already authorized
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ground so we're going to be able to improve that coordination. on the counter terrorism front, keep in mind since i came into office we have been worried about these kinds of attacks. the individual lens that the united states government maintains and the cooperation that we're consistently expanding with our european and other partners in going after every single terrorist network is row bust and constant. and every few weeks i meet with my entire national security team and we go over every single threat string that's presented and where we have all that information we shared immediately with our counter parts around the world including our european partners. on aviation security, we have over the last several years been working so that at various
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airport sites, not just in the united states but overseas, we are strengthening our mechanisms to screen and discover passengers who should not be boarding flights and improving the matters in which we are screening luggage that is going on board. and on the diplomatic front we've been consistently working to try to get all the parties together to recognize that there is a moderate opposition inside of syria that could form the basis for a transition government and to reach out not only to our friends but also to the russians and the a yan canadians on the other side of the equation to explain to them ultimately, an organization like isil is the greatest dapg nger to them as well as to us. so there will be an intensification of the strategy that we put forward but the strategy
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strategy we are putting forward is the strategy that's going to work. as i said from the start, it's going to take time and what's been interesting is in the aftermath of paris as i listen to those who suggest something else needs to be done, typically, the inc. things they suggest needs to be done are the things we need to be doing. the one exception is that there had been a few who suggested we should put large numbers of u.s. troops on the ground and keep in mind that we have the finest military in the world and the finest military minds in the world. i've been meeting with them intensively for years now discussing these various options
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and it is not just my view but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers that would be a mistake. not because our military could not march into mosil or rocca or ramadi and temp clear out isil but because we would see a repetition of what we've seen before which is if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governments and who are pushing back against idea logical extremes that they resurface unless we're prepared to have a permanent occupation of these countries. let's assume that we were to send 50,000 troops into syria. what happens when there's a terrorist attack generated from
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do we then send more troops into there or libya, perhaps? or if there's a terrorist network that's operating anywhere else in north africa or in southeast asia. so a strategy has to be one that can be sustained and the strategy that we're pursuing which focuses on going after targets, limiting wherefore possible the capabilities of isil on the ground systematically going after their leadership, infrastructure, strengthening shia or syrian and iraqi forces and curdish forces to fight them and cutting off the boarders and squeezing the space they can operate until we're able to defeat them, that's the strategy we're going
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we'll continue to generate more partners for that strategy and there are going to be some things we try that don't work, some strategies we try do work. when we find strategies that work we'll double down on those. cbs. >> thank you mr. president. more than a yearlong bombing campaign in iraq and syria has failed to contain the ambition and ability of isis to launch attacks in the west. have you underestimated their abilities and will you widen the rules of engagement for u.s. forces to take more aggressive action? >> no, we haven't underestimated our abilities. this is precisely why we're in iraq as we speak and operating in syria as we speak.
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mobilized 65 countries to go after isil and why i hosted at the united nations an entire discussion of counter terrorism strategies and cushing the flow of foreign fighters and why we've been putting pressure on those countries that have not been as robust as they need to in tracking the flow of foreign fighters in and out of syria and iraq. so there has been an acute awareness on the part of my administration from the start that it is possible for an organization like isil that has such a twisted ideology and has shown such extraordinary brutality and complete disregard for innocent lives that they
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potentially strike in the west and because thousands of fighters have flowed from the west and are european citizens, a few hundred from the united states but far more from europe returned, it posed a significant danger. we have consist president ently worked with our european partners disrupting plots in some cases. sadly, this one was not disrupted in time. but understand that one of the challenges we have in this situation is if you have a hand full of people who don't mind dying, they can kill a lot of people. that's one of the challenges of terrorism. it's not their sophistication or
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possess but the ideology that they carry with them and their willingness to die. in those circumstances tracking each individual making sure that we are disrupting and preventing these attacks is a constant effort of individual lens vigilance of vigilance. what we do in iraq and syria makes it more attractive the groups. when i said we're containing the control in iraq and syria, they're controlling more territory than last year.
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the more we shrink that territory, the more we can predend they're a functioning state and the more it becomes apparent they are simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations. that allows us to reduce the foreign fighters which will over a time lesson the number of terrorists who can carry out the terrible attacks like in paris. that's what we did with al qaeda. that doesn't mean by the way that al qaeda no longer possesses the capabilities of striking the west. al qaeda and the peninsula that operates primarily in yemen, we know has consistently tried to target the west and we are working to disrupt those acts
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have not gotten as much attention as isil, they pose a danger as well. so our goals here consistently have to be to be aggressive and to leave no stone unturned but also recognize this is not conventional warfare. we play into the isil narrative when we act as if they're a state. and we use routine military tactics that are designed to fight a state that is attacks another state. that's not what's going on here. these are killers with fantasies of glory who are very savvy when
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able to infiltrate the minds of not just iraqis or syrians but diseffected individuals around the world and when they activate those individuals, those individuals can do a lot of damage. so we have to take the approach of being rigorous on our counter terrorism efforts and consistently improve and figure out how we can get more information and how we can infiltrate these networks and rekus their operational space even as we also try to shrink the amount of territory. ultimately, to reclaim territory from them is going to require an end of the war. it's going to require an effective iraqi effort that brinls the differences which is
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inside of iraq are so important as well. >> thank you, mr. president. in the days and weeks before the paris attack, did you receive warning in our daily intelligence briefing that an attack was imnant? if not, does that not call into question the assessment there's no credible threat to the united states today. secondly, if i could ask you to address your critics who say you're reluctant to enter another middle east war and your preface of diplomacy preface of diplomacy to use our military. >> jim, every day we have threat streams coming through the
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as i said, every several weeks we sit down with all my national security intelligence and military teams to discuss various threat streams that may be generated. and the concerns about potential isil attacks in the west have been there for over a year now and come through periodically. there were no specific mentions of this particular attack that would give us a sense of something that we need, that we could provide sensitivity on or act on ourselves. but typically, the way the intelligence works is there will
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one source. how reliable is that source? perhaps some signal intelligence gets picked up. it's evaluated. some of it is extraordinarily vague and unspecific. there's no clear timetable. some of it maybe more specific and folks chase down that threat to see what happens. i'm not aware of anything that was specific in the sense that would have gave a premonition about an attack in paris that would allow for law enforcement or military actions to disrupt it. with respect to the broader issue of my critics, to some degree i answered the question earlier. i think that when you listen to what they actually have to say, what they're proposing, most of
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the time when pressed th describe things that we're already doing. maybe they're not aware we're already doing them. some of them seem to think that if i were just more bellicose in expressing what we're doing that that would make a difference because that seems to be the only thing they're doing is talking as if they're tough. i am seeing particular strategies that they would suggest that would make a real difference. the primary exception is if those who would deploy u.s. troops on a large scale to retake territory either in iraq or now in syria and at least they have their honesty to go ahead and say that's what they
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would do. i just addressed why i think they're wrong. there have been some who are well meaning and i don't doubt their sincerity when it comes to the issue of the dyer humanitarian situation in syria who will for example call for a no fly zone or safe zone of some sort and this is an example of the kind ofd issue where i will sit down with our top military and intelligence advisers and we'll pain stakingly go through what does something like that look like and typically, after we've gone through a lot of planning and a lot of discussion and really working it through, it is determined it would be counter productive to take those steps. in part because isil does not
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on the ground. a true safe zone requires us to set up ground operations and you know, the bulk of the deaths that occurred in syria, for example, come about not because of regime bombings but because of on the ground casualties. who would come in and out of the safe zone, how would it work? would it become a magnet for further terrorist attacks and how many personnel would be required? my only interest is to end suffering and keep the american
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if there's a good idea out there, then we're going to do it. i don't think i've shown hesitation to react whether it's ben laden or accepteding sending additional troops. what we do not do, what i do not do is to take actions either because it's going to work politically or it is going to somehow in the abstract make america look tough. or make me look tough. part of the reason is every few months i go to walter reed and see a 25-year-old kid that's
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some of those are people i've ordered into battle so i can't afford to play some of t political games that others may. we'll do what's required to keep the american people safe. and i think it's entirely appropriate in a democracy to have a seriousebate about these issues. folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan. if they think that somehow their advisers are better than the chair of my joint chiefs of staff and the folks actually on the ground, i want to meet them. we can have that debate.
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is posing or pursuing some notion of american leadership or america winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to otect the american people and to protect people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like france. i'm too busy for that. jim. >> thank you very much, mr. president. i wanted to go back to something you said to margaret earlier when you said you had not underestimated isis' abilities. this is an organization you once tribed as described as a jv team that's evolved to forces in iraq and syria and ab e to use the safe haven to launch atcucks in the
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other parts of the world. how is that not underestimating their capabilities and how is that conined quiet frankly and i think a lot of americans have frustration that they see the united states has the best military in the world and has the backing of others when it comes to taking on isis. i ?guess the question is forgive the language, why can't we take out these bastards? >> i just spent the last three questions answering that very question. i don't know what more you want me to add? i think i've described very specifically what our strategy is and i've described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that's been suggested. this is not as i said a
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traditional military opponent. we can retnge territory and as long as we leave our troops thheere, we can ho it. but that does not solve the underlying problem of elimrnating that dynamic prhyoducin sthese kinds of violent extremist groups. an so we are going to continue to pursue the strategy that has the best chnce of working even though it does not offer the sasks satisfaction i guess of any headline or an immediate resolution. part of the reason is because there's cost to the other side. i just want to remind people
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when we send troops in, those troops get injured and killed and our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars. agai the fact there are enormous sacrifices involved in any military action, it's best that we don't shoot first and aim late erp. it's important to get the strategy right and the strategy we're pursuing is the right one. >> i think a lot of people around the world and america are concerned because given the strategy that you're pursuing ane d it's been more than a year now, isis' capability seems to be expanding.
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think they have the same ability to strike in the united states? do you think given all you've learned about isis over the past year or so and given all the craniticisgiabout n underestimating them, do you think you really understand this enemy well enough to defeat them and to protect the homeland? >> all right. so this is another variationeon the me question. i guess, let me try it one last time. the, we have been fully aware of the capability of them carrying out a terrorist attack. that's why we have been mounting a very aggressive strategy to go
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after them. as i said before when you're talking about the ability of a hand full of people with not wildly sophisticated military equipment weapons they can kill a lot of people and preventing them from doing so is challenging for every country. i assure you that not just the united states but france and turkey nd oers who have been subject to these terrorist attacks would have implemented
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they set up a whole series of additional steps to protect aviation and apply lessons learned. we've seen much better cooperation between the fbi, state governments, local governments. this is some advantages to geography with respect to the united states. but having said that, the possibility of terrorist attacks on our soil. there were the boston marathon bombers. it was not on the scale of the deaths in paris but that was a serious attempt at killing a lot of people by two brothers and a crock pot.
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going to be involved in this so again, isil has serious capabilities. we're going after all of them. they have a great effect on social media to attract groups and carry out attacks in the homeland and in europe and other parts of the world. our ability to shrink the space
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reduce the freedom with which they feel they can operate.
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[ inaudible ] >> i'm sorry, i can't hear you. >> this is something we spoke a lot about in the g20. the overwhelming majority of victims are themselves muslims. isil does not represent islam. it is not representative in any way of the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of luz minimums.
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muslim leaders whether it's the president of indo countries that are majority muslim but have shown themselves to be ral rant and do work to be inclusive in their political process. so to the degree that anyone would equate the terrible accident that took place in paris with the abuse of islam, those kinds of stereo types are counterproduct evidence counterproductive and wrong. they will lead, i think, to greater recruitment if this becomes somehow defined as a muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem.
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now, what is also true is that the most vicious terrorist organizations at the moment are the ones that claim to be speak speaking speaking on behalf of true muslims. i do think that muslims around the world, religious leaders, political leaders, ordinary people have to, you know, ask very serious questions about how did these extremist ideologies take root. even if it's only effecting the
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population, it is real. and it is dangerous. i think the muslim community has to think about how we make sure children are not effected by the twisted notion they can kill innocent people and that is justified by religion. to some degree that is something that has to come from within the muslim community itself. there have been times there has not been enough push back against extremism. there's some who say we don't believe in violence but are not as willing to challenge some of the extremist thoughts or rationals for why muslims people oppressed and i think those ideas have to be changed.
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manilla. i'm looking forward to seeing manilla but i hope i can come back to turkey when i'm not so busy. one of the places you're seeing this debate play itself out is on the refugee issue both in europe and i gathered it started popping up back while i was gone to the united states. the people who are fleeing syria are the most harmed by terrorism. they are the most vulnerable by a consequence of civil war and
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strife. they are parents, children, orphans. it is very important. this was affirmed again and again by the g20. we do not close our hearts to this. you know, in europe, i think people like chancellor has taken a kour rashs stance in saying it's our moral obligation as fellow human beings to help people who are in such as a rule you arable situations. i know that it is putting enormous strains on the resources of the people of europe and nobody has been
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the people of turkey and the people of jordan and lebanon admitting refugees. the fact that they've kept their boarders open to the refugees is a signal. so we have to, each of us do our part and the united states has to step up and do its part. when i hear folks say that maybe we should just admit the christians and not the muslims, when i hear political leaders suggests that there will be a test for which person is fleeing from a war torn country is
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folks themselves come from families who benefitted, that's shameful. that's not american, that's not who we are. we don't have religious test to our compassion. when pope francis came to visit, the united states gave a speech before congress. he didn't just speak object christians being persecuted. he didn't call on those who just add miz those of the same religious faith. he said protect people who are vulnerable. i think it's very important for
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in leadership and particularly those who have a platform and can be heard not the feed the impulse inside of us. i had a lot of other agreements with george w. bush on politics but i was proud of 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact this was not a war on islam. to notion that some of those would ignore all of that, that's not who we are. on this, they should follow his example. it was the right one. there's the right impulse.
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whether you are european or american, the values that we are defending, the values that we're fighting against isil for are precisely that we don't discriminate against people because of their faith. we don't kill people because they're different than us. that's what separates us from them. we don't feed that kind of notion that somehow christians and muslims are at war. if we want to be successful defeating isil, that's a good place to start by not promoting that kind of ideology, that kind of attitude. in the same way that the muslim community has an obligation not to in any way excuse anti christian christian sediment.
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christians. we are, it is good to remember that the united states does not have a religious test and we are a nation of many people's of different fates. which means that we show compassion to everybody. those are the universal values we stand for. that's what my administration intends to stand for. all right. thank you very much, everybody. >> president obama speaks at the end of the g20 summit in turkey for americans not to turn their backs on syrian refugees especially in the wake of what happened here in the wake of what happened here in paris friday that killed 129 people. the headline here in this news conference, the president essentially saying stay the course. there will be no change in overall u.s. strategy in the war
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he was defensive at times as reporters cropped ontinued to ask him questions about a possible change in strategy. chuck todd has been watching along with us. the president feeling pressured to do something new in the wake of this. but he really held his ground here. >> he did. i was struck by how defensive he was and how much he's paying attention to his political critics. he answered about six or seven specific charges or ideas that various critics of him, presidential candidate critics or otherwise have made and he used them as strong. i was surprised by his tone and defensiveness. he didn't channel what i think a lot of americans are feeling right now with a little bit of anger and resolve and recivil yancey. i get the policy argument that he's making that hey, this is the policy that's going to work and i don't think these other ideas are going to work. i was again, i go back to the
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extremely defensive and almost not yet realizing that many of the reporters in that room, they're channelling the public in this case, lester, as you know being in paris and we know where the public is there, but it's a lot of similar feelings here in the united states right now. so that's the part of this that just struck me as frankly an odd decision. not odd that he's sticking to his policies, odd in the tone he chose to use today. >> let me turn to an green i can't mitchell now. andrea, yesterday a sizable era attack against rocca. at the same time president obama was speaking and noted this attack was planned in syria, organized in belgium, carried out in france. so it makes you wonder whether a military operation would work against that kind of a threat. >> well, what the president is saying, just to continue on what chuck said, he is not going to
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put in ground forces. he's going to intensify the effort. like france, these are air strikes. air strikes backed up by training and equipping iraqis and working more closely with syrians on the ground. we know that the syrian piece of this has been a total failure and the iraqis have turned and runned every time they've been changed. the iraqi forces have not been stood up and the syrian forces have not been stood up and without people on the ground most military experts say this will not work. he also defended the intelligence. he said there's not been an intelligence gap and there's a robust in constant individual lens. he meets with the advisers. he said no gap but just an hour or two ago cia director in washington said it's time for the u.s. and u.n. to look and see if there's cracks or gaps in the intelligence gatherings. they're going to go back and
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something before paris. >> richard angle seen in the streets of paris and syria even watching along with me. you noted that the president acknowledged something that was murky in the question of responsibility? >> he acknowledged this in fact was an isis attack. he called isis the face of evil. he said isis will be degraded and defeated which is reaffirm reaffirming his old policy. there have been talks this was al qaeda. some of the counter officials i spoke to in paris said there's no way this could be isis. isis isn't that good. he's acknowledging yes, this is an isis attack and we're going to do more and share more intelligence with france and intensify the current strategy. i think some of the defensiveness we've all seem to denoted came from the anger you can feel here in paris. you can read from the statements that are coming out of american politicians politicians.
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there seems to be once again this desire to do more and send troops in and go to war and i think the president was trying to dial that back saying we're going to do more strategy but not going to war. >> you and i were speaking and here on this plaza 10 months ago watching people do what we did lighting candles. it's a different atmosphere. at the time we were here because there's an attack on a newspaper publication people respond somewhat differently. >> very much differently. it's nice to say france is being resilient and these people are here. we are hearing that. it's different. when charlie's attack happened, people came out in the streets and there were tens of thousands, couple thousand people who marched in this square and holding up pins and it became a zem administration for the freedom of the press. charlie was them.
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magazine and french people came out and said we are with that magazine. we are charlie. this time, it was an attack against us. >> people sitting in cafe and theater. >> concert. that has people scared. >> let me quickly go back to chuck todd again talking about the political pressure that will mount at home. the president holding his standing fast here. what kind of pressure will he face? >> i tell you in the last point of what he made, he was passionate on the refugee issue. that's where the political pressure is going to heat up early and first. frankly, it's out of sort of the easiest thing for the public to di jest. it's where the republican primary is going to head. it's this issue of where we take in syrian refugees is going to be the first thing, first amount of political pressure that gets forced upon the line up. >> chuck todd, thank you very much. we are here in the square that's become the memorial site in paris.
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nightly news and what the president had grammy-nominated chris young got good news today, his new single "i'm coming over" on to a album of the same name has topped the charts. >> and no strange er to r to the hit, because he has had six number one singles, and the breakthrough artist of the year at the country music awards. >> and now, he has a song just for us. >> here is chris young. "oh, nah."
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i think i'm going to leave i just had that one drink and i have to be up early boys, we ought to shutterer down and take it to the house before anybody starts getting crazy i started ak cross the boards before i got to the door oh, nah, hang on i just had o say oh, nah oh whoa gone i should be halfway home but oh, nah girl i saw you come in with all of your girlfriends just cutting up and starting to party
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and we are just rolling up on scene not looking for anybody and i was going to walk on by you turned around and we locked eyes oh, nah that is somber there and mr. deejay what are you trying to do oh, nah, we can dance once and we will be playing on and on oh, nah well i didn't mean to be here this long but i tried to leave but it ain't our fault but i didn't mean to be holding you
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supposed to do oh, mnah, i just want to have a shot of padron hang on, the music is going on and we will be playing on and on oh nah why did you play that oh nah chris young! >> very happen y for him, and our favorite things though are coming up, and we are very happy for us. >> but first, it s ist this message
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all right. we are talking about our favorite thing s s. mine are little and easy for anybody. you have to speak for a long time --? or your new book coming ou >> and i thought that i was supposed to have a riccola and you know, put it in the water and plop, plop, and let it seep. >> for lounge? >> a little bit and sip it. it is going to be coating your throat that sucking it alone doesn't work, because it is the warm water. and i got through a big chunk of the book because of that. so if you have a sore throat, there you go >> and have been waiting to show you this. i have been telling you about my friend anne nielsen who is one of the finest artists in the world, and i have a few, and not too many, because you can't have enough, and they are fantastic, and now a candle. 18 different scents or six. and look at the candle. and the matches, and then the
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candle. and this is for you, hody woman. >> it is? >> eight scents. >> that is gardenia. >> it is heaven. >> that is part of my christmas gift to people, because i want you to be surrounded by joy. >> yes, christmas came early. yes, absolutely. d we want to know about the kindest people that you know. go go the facebook, our page, and share a photo and short story and use the #sharekindness.
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