TRANSCRIPT: Charles Gibson Interviews President Barack Obama

GIBSON: You don't mean to say that they would say that to you, would you?

OBAMA: Well, I'm just saying that those are the decisions that you make. And you know, I think the public rightly sort of feels like, "Well, why would you tie those two things together?" Well, that's part of the legislative process that has evolved over time, and this is why, once again, what you hope for is that there are moments where people are able to rise above parochial interests or party interests to make decisions that are right for the country.

It's not happening enough. And, frankly, because a lot of these issues are complicated and cloudy and you've got all this cable chatter that's going on all the time, you know, it's not hard for members of Congress or any elected official to not act responsibly.

GIBSON: Final question. What do you have to do in the next three years to satisfy you, that you've had a successful, worthwhile presidency?

OBAMA: I've got to get, number one, the economy back on track, and I think that we have been successful in averting disaster, and, you know, you don't get a lot of credit for that, because nobody knows how bad it could have been, but what is absolutely true is, is that until people who are out there looking for work can find jobs, they are going to discount whatever progress we've made.

Economic growth was strong in the third quarter. We think it'll be good in the fourth quarter, as well, but job growth has not caught up. So my number-one priority over the next three years is to make sure that we're not only growing the economy in the aggregate, but people are getting hired, and they're able to support their families and their mortgages and sending their kids to college. That's my job number one.

Number two is making sure that Afghanistan is in a decent place so that, if I only serve one term, when I hand it off to the next president, they are on a trajectory in which Afghanistan is more stable, we are able to execute our strategies against Al Qaida, and we're drawing our troops down so that we don't have a perpetual occupation in Afghanistan.

I think number three is making sure that we implement health care effectively, as well as pass it, because this is going to be a big, difficult job. And if I can say at the end of my first term that, you know what, we are poised to deliver on the promise of health care after the legislation has passed, I think that'll be important.

Number four, moving us in a direction of clean energy so that our economy is not subject to the whims of what a bunch of oil-producing countries in the Middle East want. Not only is that critical for our economy, not only is that critical for our environment, but it's critical for our foreign policy, because the less reliant we are on petro-dollars -- or the less reliant we are on petroleum, the less we are feeding, I think, a sense that somehow we are inextricably tied to a region that is volatile, and it would free us up, in terms of our foreign policy, in really important ways over the long term.

So if I can get those things done over the next three years -- and that's a pretty big list -- I will feel really good. And, you know, if I get three out of four, then I'll still feel pretty good about myself.

GIBSON: Mr. President, thank you.

OBAMA: Charlie, let me say thank you to you for your extraordinary career, and you've always been a class act. It means a lot to be able to sit here and talk to you in your last week.

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