TRANSCRIPT: Jake Tapper Interviews Barack Obama

The following is a transcript of an interview conducted by ABC News' Jake Tapper with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for "World News with Charles Gibson" on June 16, 2008, in Flint, Michigan.

TAPPER: You talked about the need to change the status quo in education today.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: But one of the ways that proponents of school choice say that the best way to change the status quo is to give parents, inner-city parents a choice. Why not?

OBAMA: Well, the problem is, is that, you know, although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom. We don't have enough slots for every child to go into a parochial school or a private school. And what you would see is a huge drain of resources out of the public schools.

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So what I've said is let's foster competition within the public school system. Let's make sure that charter schools are up and running. Let's make sure that kids who are in failing schools, in local school districts, have an option to go to schools that are doing well.

But what I don't want to do is to see a diminished commitment to the public schools to the point where all we have are the hardest-to-teach kids with the least involved parents with the most disabilities in the public schools. That's going to make things worse, and we're going to lose the commitment to public schools that I think have been so important to building this country.

TAPPER: So it would help some kids, but overall it would be bad for the system?

OBAMA: I think it would be overall bad for most kids.

TAPPER: It's a Democratic year. And the president's numbers, poll numbers are horrible.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: The right track-wrong track numbers indicate a record number of Americans think we're on the wrong track. The heads of the Republican House and Senate committees anticipate they're going to lose lots of seats.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: And yet you and Senator McCain right now are pretty much tied.

OBAMA: Yes.

TAPPER: Why aren't you doing better? Why didn't you get a bounce?

OBAMA: Oh, well, you know, my understanding is the current polls show me up, despite the fact that we went through an extraordinary primary. I mean, we went through a long, long contest. And Senator Clinton was a formidable and terrific candidate.

And so while we were doing that, John McCain basically was getting a pass, both from the media, from you guys, as well as from other opponents. And so I think that that explains it.

But, look, the truth is, is that a presidential contest is always going to be closer than a congressional contest. People are always going to be taking measure. We haven't seen any blowout elections any time over the last several years, even when Congress has shifted significantly, as it did during Bill Clinton's midterm, as it did during George Bush's midterm.

So we've seen these kinds of trends before. What I'm confident about is that when people get to know my track record and contrast it with John McCain's, when they know that I'm giving a middle-class tax cut to working families, and he's giving a tax cut, a quarter of which goes to people making more than $2.8 million, when people see that I'm offering universal health care, and John McCain is not, those are going to be decisive issues during a year when families, like those here in Flint, are really feeling left behind.

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