Exclusive: President Obama Pushes Forward on Health Care Pitch

Obama Defends Comments on Gates Arrest

Despite his efforts to keep the focus on health care, Obama's controversial comments that the Cambridge, Mass., Police had acted "stupidly" in arresting Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, have touched a nerve, reigniting a debate on race relations.

When asked by Moran if he regretted his comments, Obama said he was surprised that his remarks were receiving so much attention.

"I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary," Obama said, "You probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home."

Obama told Moran that he had "extraordinary respect" for the work of police officers, but that it seemed out of line to arrest a man in his home if he was not causing a disturbance.

"I think that it doesn't make sense with all the problems that we have out there to arrest a guy in his own home if he's not causing a serious disturbance," Obama said. "And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed."

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Obama On Spirituality

With the responsibilities of the presidency weighing down on his shoulders, Obama said that he has managed to maintain his spirituality.

"Well, I had a habit of praying every night before I go to bed. I pray all the time now because I've got a lot of stuff on my plate and I need guidance all the time," Obama joked.

"When you're in this job, I think that every president who's had it is constantly humbled by the degree to which there are a lot of issues out there and the notion that one person alone can solve all these problems," he said. "I think you're cured of that illusion very quickly. This is something where you just hope that you are aligning your work with His purposes and that you're attuned to the needs of the people you're there to serve."

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