Transcript: Gibson Interviews Barack Obama

So we are going to make sure that every young person in America can go to college. They have a right to be worried about social security and Medicare because those entitlement program are going to be running out of money unless we make some fundamental changes. And those are going to be tough choices. You know, I have offered what I think is the best approach on Social Security, for example, which is raising the cap on the payroll tax, keeping the tax rate the same, but saying, you know, somebody like myself or Warren Buffet can afford to pay a little more in payroll tax to make sure the system is solvent.

Medicare is a whole different problem. I mean, that is a big nightmare. Our health care costs are escalating so quickly that we may not be able to do anything about it. But one thing I've got say, though, despite the expressions of concern and skepticism on the part of young people, I wouldn't be sitting here a month away from the election with a pretty good shot at getting elected president had it not been for the extraordinary idealism and hopefulness of young people.

We have seen an outpouring of involvement and passion on their part that I don't think we've seen in a generation. And that makes me optimistic.

GIBSON: Change the subject for a moment. John McCain has unloaded on you in the last 72, 96 hours as has Sarah Palin. McCain is saying, essentially, we don't know who Barack Obama is, where he came from. I'm an open book, he's not.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: Were you surprised, A, that he didn't bring it up last night at the debate and use that line of attack? And, B, since you must have prepared for it, what were you going to say?

OBAMA: Well, I am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days that he wasn't willing to say it to my face.

But I guess we've got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that -- that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate.

The notion that people don't know who I am is a little hard to swallow. I've been running for president for the last two years. I've campaigned in 49 states. Millions of people have heard me speak at length on every topic under the sun. I've been involved now in 25 debates, going on my 26th. And I've written two books which any -- everybody who reads them will say are about as honest a set of reflections by, at least, a politician as are out there.

So, you know, I think that, you know, Senator McCain's campaign has been focusing on me primarily because they don't want to focus on the economy. And they've said as much. I mean, you've had their spokespeople over the last couple of days say if we talk about the economic crisis, we lose.

I mean, you can't be much more blatant than that. They want to change the subject. And I understand it because the fact is that John McCain has subscribed, for the most part, to the same economic philosophy as George Bush, the same economic philosophy that has governed over the last eight years and has helped to get us in this mess.

GIBSON: And, finally, she's come at you, Sarah Palin has come at you because of the Bill Ayers connection.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: Are you going to have to address that again? How are you going to explain it? Have you had a continuing connection with it? And why didn't you just cut it off once and for all once when you knew?

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