Charles Gibson Interviews Barack Obama

So, at some point, she and I are going to talk. I haven't heard directly from her, you know, how she wants to move forward. I -- my main goal is to make sure that the party is unified, so that we can unify the country around the issues that this campaign has been about, changing Washington, delivering on health care, making sure college is affordable, creating economic growth, keeping America safe.

GIBSON: As long as that question lingers, can you get about the business of unifying the party, or does that have to be taken care of first?

OBAMA: Oh, I think that we've got a lot of work, obviously, that has to be done in drawing a sharp contrast between myself and John McCain. And we already started seeing that happening tonight.

GIBSON: Did she squeeze you in any way by making known her interest in the job?

OBAMA: Well, as I said, I haven't heard her being quoted out there, I haven't heard her on television saying what she's interested or not interested in.

And, you know, I'm confident that she is going to be an integral part of the Democratic team as we try to win the presidency, more Senate seats and more House seats in November.

GIBSON: Should you choose her, how do you handle Bill Clinton?

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: All those questions are premature.

GIBSON: On what three issues will this campaign turn to you?

OBAMA: Issue number one, how we're going to keep America safe. John McCain has a vision that is very similar to George Bush's. He wants to continue in Iraq on the current course.

I believe that we need to begin a process of withdrawal, initiate tougher diplomacy and refocus our attention on Afghanistan. That's going to be a set of issues.

On the economy. John McCain's main economic platform is to continue the Bush tax cuts and then to add $300 billion worth of corporate tax breaks that aren't paid for.

I think that's not going to help ordinary American families who've seen their wages and incomes, on average, flat line or actually go down during the Bush presidency.

So, what we're going to talk about is universal health care, investing in clean energy, creating jobs through infrastructure development, making sure that we're making college more affordable. That's going to be a major difference.

And then, you know, I think that the American people are going to have to make some decisions about our personal qualities. Obviously, the presidency is more than just a set of talking points. It has to do with the American people lifting the hood and kicking the tires and seeing who do they trust, who do they think can lead us at this moment in history. And those are more intangible qualities, but, you know, those'll play into this race as well.

GIBSON: Do you worry that it could turn on race, age and class?

OBAMA: You know, I don't think so. I mean, look, we saw this in the primary, you know, -- will African Americans take pride over my candidacy? Of course. Will there be people who look at John McCain's military service and say, "Boy, we can identify with that"? Absolutely. Will they look at our respective ages and say, "We need new blood," versus, "We need experience"? Yes. You know, those are all going to be factors that people take into account.

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