“Well this is not how I expected to woke up this morning,” the president said off the bat, remarking that just five hours before his press secretary woke him to tell him the news that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”
President Obama acknowledged that he doesn’t feel that he deserves to be in the company of those who have won this prize in years past.
“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize, men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”
The president said that throughout history the award has “has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.”
Obama said this is why he will accept this award, “as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.”
Using the opportunity to outline his global agenda – the president reiterated his desire for a world without nuclear weapons, for all countries to take responsibility for climate change, and to pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths, races, and religions based on mutual respect, and a commitment to realize the right of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.
“And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the commander in chief of a country that’s responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies. I’m also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work. These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people.”
The president said that some of the work confronting the administration will not be completed during his presidency – some, like nuclear weapons will “not be completed in my lifetime,” he said.
“But I know these challenges can be met, so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration; it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world. “
The president opened with a funny – and lighthearted – anecdote from this morning in which his two daughters, and the Presidential dog, put the news of his win in perspective.
“After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, “Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday.” And then Sasha added, “Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.” So it’s — it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.”
The president will travel to Oslo, Norway, in December to accept the award.
-David Wright, Yunji de Nies, and Sunlen Miller