'This Week' Transcript: David Axelrod

(LAUGHTER)

(OFF-MIKE)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: But I think -- I think (OFF-MIKE) speech (OFF-MIKE)

B. OBAMA: That's not what you're supposed to say in front of the press.

M. OBAMA: Oh, I'm sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I know you're not going to make that mistake. You're -- you're well-qualified in setting expectations. But if you can just give us a sense -- did we really see the president hitting the themes, yesterday on the train trip, that he's going to hit in the inaugural?

And is the animating theme of the speech responsibility; everyone in the country is going to have to take responsibility for our future?

AXELROD: Well, that -- you know, George, one thing about Barack Obama is his themes have been consistent, not just through this campaign but through his public life, from his convention speech in 2004 through today.

So I don't think you're going to be surprised by what you hear. I think he's going to talk about where we are as a country but also who we are as a people and what responsibilities accrue to us as a result of that, and what we have to do to move forward.

So I'm not going to handicap whether...

(LAUGHTER)

... it's going to be a great speech, a good speech, or -- but I have great -- I have confidence in the message that he wants to deliver and I don't think you'll be surprised by it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, on Wednesday, the president -- the next president will call in his military commanders. Will he ask them, as he promised in the campaign, to come back with a plan to withdraw American forces from Iraq in 16 months?

AXELROD: Well, that was a -- that was something that he's consistently said. He believes that that is a reasonable timetable. We've moved a great distance from the time he started talking about that, and now we're in an area where everyone agrees that we should be on a path to withdrawing those troops.

And he is going to begin that process, as promised, on that day.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He'll give the command?

AXELROD: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: David Axelrod, thanks very much.

AXELROD: OK, great to be with you, George.

END

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