Obama: A Lot Keeps Me Up at Night

Obama Tells ABC's Barbara Walters He Worries For the Country in Next 60 Days

ByABC News via logo
November 24, 2008, 5:29 PM

Nov. 26, 2008— -- Facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, President-elect Barack Obama says he is kept awake at night worrying about what will happen to the country over the next 60 days while a "lame duck" is in charge.

Obama talked about his preparation to take office on Jan. 20 in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.

President Bush will remain in the Oval Office until Obama assumes power on Jan. 20.

Barack Obama: The Barbara Walters Interview -- Click Here to Watch the Full Special

When asked what was his "biggest fear," Obama said "there are a lot of things that keep me up at night."

"One of the concerns I have is that the economy is so weakened that the next 60 days are going to be difficult because we've got a president who, even though he may mean well, is now sort of in lame-duck status [and] Congress isn't in [session]."

"And I don't have the reins of power," Obama added.

Obama said that in the meantime he was working to assemble a team of economic advisors who would be ready to work come Inauguration Day.

The President-elect said he and his team would carefully review the way the Bush administration distributes bailout funds to Wall Street banks seeking emergency assistance.

"I'm not president yet, so I don't know yet how much more money is going to be spent. I'm going to scrutinize very carefully how that money is spent. If the Bush administration chooses to draw down that money, then I'm going to have something to say about whether it's doing it wisely," he told Walters.

Obama, who won in a landslide victory by promising change, tried to dampen expectations of what's going to happen when he takes charge on Jan. 20.

"I am not a miracle worker," he told Walters.

Obama said the executives at those companies who have taken federal loans should act responsibly with the tax payers' money, chiding Wall Street executives who sought multimillion dollar bonuses and the leaders of Detroit's Big Three automakers who last week flew to Washington aboard private jets to ask Congress for a bailout.

He called the automaker executives "tone deaf" to the concerns of the American people.

Weeks away from his inauguration, Obama stressed to Walters the importance of personal, corporate and civic accountability in light of the cratering economy and said his presidency would be a return to "the ethic of responsibility."

Obama said "captains of industry" on Wall Street and in Detroit who took advantage of corporate perks while their companies benefited from government loans paid for with taxpayers' money, don't have "any perspective on what's happening to ordinary Americans."

Executives placed in a position of authority have "got responsibilities to your workers. You've got a responsibility to your community; to your share holders. There's got to be a point where you say, 'I have enough, and now I'm in this position of responsibility. Let me make sure that I'm doing right by people and acting in a way that is responsible,'" Obama said.