Charles Gibson Interviews Barack Obama

But, ultimately, I think the American people are pretty wise, and they're going to, I think, look real long and hard and see who can deliver a -- who can create an America that continues to provide opportunity for everybody who's willing to work hard, that keeps us safe from very real enemies out there, but also makes sure that we're restoring our standing in the world and is managing this rapidly changing global economy in a way that's good for the American people.

Those are going to be the questions that they're going to have, and I trust that they'll have information by November to make a good decision.

GIBSON: John McCain has issued an invitation to do a series of town meetings (inaudible). Going to do it?

OBAMA: Oh, we're definitely going to be doing some town hall debates. I look forward to, you know, having more than just the three traditional debates that we've seen in recent presidential contests, so I'm glad that he's interested in doing it.

You know, we're going to have to figure out timing. I know that he wants to start, generously enough, a week from today. And since we just won the nomination, we may have to spend some -- a little bit of time over the next couple of weeks, you know, retooling for a general election.

But...

GIBSON: (inaudible)

OBAMA: Well, we are definitely going to be debating with John McCain, and we will do more than the three that -- that have been promised. And so, some of those will have to be done before our respective conventions.

GIBSON: Will you go to Iraq?

OBAMA: I will, almost certainly, travel to Iraq and probably engage in some other foreign travel, as well, during the course of the next four or five months.

GIBSON: Public financing: Going to take it or going to say no?

OBAMA: Yeah, well, this is part of the conversation that we've got to have with the McCain campaign. I have already seen and I've expressed concerns before about the capacity of third parties to infect the campaign process with a whole lot of money and a lot of resources.

And, you know, we had one of John McCain's, I guess, finance chairmen say that they were counting on the Republican National Committee to spend tens of millions of dollars going after Senator Obama. We've already seen Web sites developed for that, in which I'm being attacked, and are purportedly not coordinated with John McCain.

So, we've got to work out -- and I've said this from the start -- I'm interested in making sure that we keep this process intact, but what I'm not going to do is unilaterally disarm and allow hundreds of millions or tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads raining down on my head from outside groups.

GIBSON: But there's a dynamic on your side, as well. You originally said you would take it.

OBAMA: Yes.

GIBSON: That was before we saw a...

OBAMA: That's not exactly what I said. I mean, I don't mean to parse, but, you know, what I said was, I wrote a letter to the Federal Election Commission asking if we could preserve the right to potentially take public financing.

And what I said at the time was, I would like to work with my Republican counterpart to see what we could do to stay in the system and preserve it.

But what I also said at the time, and I've said repeatedly, is that, you know, we are not going to put ourselves in a situation where you've got tens of millions of dollars from outside groups that are...

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: ... in this campaign.

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