Transcript: Barbara Walters Interviews the Obamas

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, we have gone through two of the toughest years we have seen certainly in my lifetime and yours. The worst recession since the Great Depression. And so, you are right. All across the country, people are hurting. People are losing jobs. And sometimes with that, they have lost hope. …I think the important thing for all of us to remember though is that first of all, we have been through tougher times before as a country and we have always come out on top…I am confident that if…we are investing in research and development that continues to make us an innovation leader for the future… that we are gonna do great. …I am very, very confident that our best days are still ahead of us.

BARBARA WALTERS: You have consistently said that you want to end the Bush tax cuts for people who earn over $250 thousand a year and now there are signs that you would compromise. Why?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, what I've said is, we should extend the tax cuts that affect middle class families.98 percent of American people make $250 thousand a year or less. And what Democrats and Republicans agree on right now, is that their taxes shouldn't go up on January 1st, which right now, if Congress doesn't act, they are slated to do.

BARBARA WALTERS: But in the spirit of compromise, would you extend the tax cuts for everyone, for one year?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm going to be meeting with the Republican leadership next week. And I'm looking forward to hearing what their ideas are. We need to get this resolved. I, you know, expect that I don't end up getting everything I want. I think, hopefully they come to the table understanding they're not going to get everything that they want.

BARBARA WALTERS: So is the answer yes, maybe?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think the answer is, I'm not going to negotiate…

BARBARA WALTERS: With me.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: …With you. …I'm going to sit down and negotiate with them.

BARBARA WALTERS: I thought you were going to give me a Thanksgiving present.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: [LAUGHS]

BARBARA WALTERS: No such luck. Well let's talk politics.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah.

BARBARA WALTERS: You may have heard that Sarah Palin told me just last week…

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA WALTERS: …That she could beat you.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA WALTERS: If she ran. Could she?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I don't speculate on what's going to happen two years from now. I'm right now focused on making sure that we're doing everything we can to improve the economy and put people back to work. And if we're doing that people will want to see a continuation of the progress that we've made. And if I don't then it probably really won't matter who's running against me…

BARBARA WALTERS: Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA WALTERS: You will not tell me that you think you could beat Sarah Palin?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA : What I'm saying is, I don't think about Sarah Palin.

BARBARA WALTERS: OK. *****

BARBARA WALTERS: Are there any circumstances under which you would not run for president?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Oh well, yeah, that's a big hypothetical…

BARBARA WALTERS: Yeah…

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will tell you that I love the job…and it is an extraordinary privilege. Other than my commitment to my family, and my commitment to my faith, that there is nothing, that's more important to me.

*****

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