Barack Obama Interview: Complete Transcript

STEPHANOPOULOS: You were also tough on him in places of your book. I want to show our viewers some of it. You talked about the 1992 campaign, where you said that Clinton's gestures towards disaffected Reagan Democrats could seem clumsy and transparent -- whatever happened to Sister Souljah? -- or frighteningly cold-hearted, allowing the execution of a mentally retarded death row inmate to go forward on the eve of an important primary. And then in 1996, you told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, "the Clintons' campaign is fascinating to a student of politics. It's disturbing to someone who cares about certain issues."

And you seemed to be repeating some of this, these charges about that brand of politics in your speech last night.

Do you think there is a pattern here?

OBAMA: Well, George, first of all, the excerpts that you read, as I think you'll acknowledge, were sandwiched in an entire page of complimenting Bill Clinton for the work that he did. But...

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you just repeated now.

OBAMA: Yes. But there is no doubt that I think that in the '90s, we got caught up in a slash-and-burn politics that the American people are weary of. And we still see it in Washington today. It is very hard for us to have a common sense, non-ideological conversation about how we're going to deal with our energy problems. It's very difficult for us to figure out how are we going to make this economy work for all people and not just some people.

Now, that is not the Clintons' fault. It is all of our faults, in the sense that we've gotten into these bad habits and we can't seem to have disagreements without being disagreeable.

So part of what I think we have to do is to set a new tone in politics. Not a naive one. The insurance companies, the drug companies, they're not going to give up their profits easily when it comes to health care. The oil companies like writing the energy bills, and they have a clear agenda. But it does mean that we have to reduce the interests -- or the influence of special interests and lobbyists. I think that we've got to take ethics reform seriously. I think that we all have some responsibilities in terms of focusing on how we're going to solve problems for the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the economy. The immediate economic crisis going forward right now, the housing crisis specifically. Senator Clinton has called on a 90-day freeze on home foreclosures, and freezing the rates for five years on adjustable rate mortgages. Is that a good idea?

OBAMA: Well, what I've said is that we should put forward a $10 billion fund to focus on helping families that are in their homes that have been induced into mortgages that they can't pay, but who are willing to pay the current rates that they have. And I think that is an approach that most observers recognize will prevent the kind of moral hazards where speculators or lenders who made bad loans somehow are bailed out.

But I think that the problem goes beyond just the immediate crisis of home foreclosures.

OBAMA: What we have is a situation in which, over the last decade, there has been -- the rewards of the economy have all gone to the top 1 percent.

We've seen people who are wealthy, flush with cash, huge amounts of capital, that have been feeding the real estate bubble, the dotcom bubble. But what we haven't seen are ordinary people's incomes and wages going up significantly.

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