Transcript: Diane Sawyer Interviews Obama

There is no doubt that there is a real terrorist threat out there. Al Qaeda, itself, is greatly weakened from where it was back in 2000. Bin Laden sending out a tape, trying to take credit for a Nigerian student, who engaged in a failed bombing attempt, is an indication of how weakened he is, because this is not something necessarily directed by him.

The concern that we have now is that if you have the lone wolf, or the small network, that can equip itself to try to engage in suicide attacks, those are in some ways folks that are even harder to catch than well-known terrorists like bin Laden. So we have to improve our cooperation, our work with countries like Yemen to make sure that we are catching those individuals ahead of time. In some cases they may not have records. They may not be known terrorists. And that makes the job harder.

This is part of the reason, though, why it is so important that we don't have a knee-jerk reaction that actually inflames the situation in the Muslim world. That we are measured, we are deliberate, we do everything we need for our security, but we also are engaged in the public diplomacy that makes sure that some lonely teenager, in some Muslim country, doesn't think that the way to belong is to engage in attacks against the United States. So, it can't just be a military response. It also has to be a diplomatic response. It also has to be us working in these countries on providing educational opportunity.

America has to be perceived as a country that is a force for good and that is why, I think, the extraordinary response of not just our government, but also the people of the United States, to a tragedy like Haiti is so important. It is important because it is the right thing to do, but it also shows that America's power is used, not just in a military fashion, but to make sure that people are getting help.

15:28

SAWYER: That's the signal. May I ask one family question then. Mrs. Obama, as you know, has always been the person we are told, who gauges you and gauges the world outside. In the past 78 hours, what's been the most -- 78, 48, one week, what's been most the important and useful thing she's said to you?

OBAMA: She told me that after we went to Sasha's basketball game that I need to show Sasha how to shoot her shot a little more effectively. So yesterday, we went out and went to the gym for about an hour and nothing was more therapeutic than taking my daughter to shoot some baskets. That's the stuff that grounds me.

But you know, I think, as I said before, Michelle and I now have been through these cycles enough where she has a lot of confidence that as long as I'm trying to do the right thing, as long as I'm focused on helping the people who sent me here, no matter how hard the decisions are, no matter how many times the politics may break in a different direction, that over time, people can tell if you're on their side or not. You know and so the most important thing for me is just to make sure that every day, I know who I'm fighting for and that we communicate that effectively. That we don't get so trapped in the bubble that people start thinking boy, he's been -- that Washington has changed him, instead of he's changing Washington.

Thank you.

*********

15:32

SAWYER: So serious question, Colts/Saints.

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