Transcript: Gibson Interviews Rahm Emanuel

The following is an excerpted transcript of ABC News' Charles Gibson's interview with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on President Obama's first 100 days in office, for "World News With Charles Gibson," April 29, 2009.

CHARLES GIBSON: Rahm, what would you point to after 100 days that might give us the greatest indication of how this president will be judged after four years?

RAHM EMANUEL: Well, first of all, Charlie, that's a good question. I think something on substance and something on style, if I could.

GIBSON: Sure.

VIDEO: Rahm Emanuel speaks to Charles Gibson
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EMANUEL: On substance, I think that people will see that he had -- you know, affected the economy in its kind of worst moment since the Great Depression and began to put the foundation down to altering it fundamentally in the sense of a way in which we finally started facing -- go face off with the challenges that have basically hurt and hindered this economy. And what I mean by that is challenging the health care system and the costs. Everybody knows we cannot have a health care system that is running three to four times inflation on an annual basis, and it's going to consume more and more of our GDP.

And then on energy, you could not continue to export $700 billion of our wealth overseas and basically debilitate the economy's ability to create new jobs, new industries, and use that as a venue to finally do something different, that we could no longer realize an energy policy on cheap oil. And that the advantage America had after World War II on the most educated work force, it had lost that advantage, and we put the building blocks from K through 12 to college to once again put America on the lead on its education and its students who -- and workers, who are the best educated, best trained in the country. That foundation.

So I think you can see that in both the Recovery Act and the budget just literally got passed [in] the House today, just before we started this interview. And it will be taken up by the Senate. But that -- the fundamentals, the building blocks for an economy that was based on a philosophy of save and invest, versus one of borrow and spend, had been altered.

And then on -- if I could, let me say something about, I think, style. And two points.

If you looked at successful presidents and transformative presidents, two points. And I don't mean to go back on this, but if you look at Kennedy, you look at Roosevelt, you look at Reagan -- you can even go back if you wanted to on Jefferson -- they follow failed presidents who were not -- I mean, basically the philosophy is the presidency didn't succeed. They were good communicators, and they came at a point of crisis in the country.

And the test is still -- we won't know for a long time for the president. But that kind of chemistry of those three things exist here, and a philosophy that's based and de-legitimized by the predecessor. It's a moment of crisis and a successful communicator.

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