President Obama Reflects on His Time in Office

The president discusses his legacy in an exclusive interview on "This Week."
12:40 | 01/08/17

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Transcript for President Obama Reflects on His Time in Office
Get his task. He isn't famous story about him Clare Boothe Luce the diplomat former congressman Goss and in 1962 he asked her what's on your mind she says. The greater demand the easier it is described him in a single sentence and fined him what's your sentence. What's your sentence what was your fears are I don't care what history thanks. I'm sure he did. I'd like to thank that. Maybe the sentences. President Obama. Believe deeply in this democracy. And the American people because. As I reflect back on what's worked for me in this office. It's been. That I've I've gotten people who maybe. Didn't believe in the process. To get engaged. Ironically I've even gotten the other side that maybe didn't believe in the process to get engaged I gather the father of the Tea Party. I invigorated the grassroots of the Republican Party as well democratic part so. You know a high eight. If it health care got done because there were a lot of people out there. Core professional politician but our citizens who pushed for even when politics was. But did you succeed on your own terms back in the campaign you talked about Ronald Reagan changing the trajectory. Of the country sitting on a fundamentally different path. Do you think you did that I think I did in the sense that there's a whole generation coming up behind us. That. Was engaged inspired. Worked. For change during the course of my presidency saw what was possible. And that generation that's coming. They're not the majority up at but they're going to be the majority so when they if you look at how they value diversity how they. Believe in science how they care about the environment. How they believe in. Not discriminate against people for sexual orientation and of their belief that. We have to work with other countries two. Create a more peaceful world and until we get poverty. That's the majority. Of an entire generation that's coming up behind this thing come out to vote well you know. They came out to vote for me. And and they came out to vote. Where. That. Spirit was touch. The next phase in this part of what I'm interest of doing after presidency. Is to make sure that I'm working with that next generation. So that. They understand. You can't just rely on. Inspiration. There's little perspiration involved in bringing about change to that you have to be organized you have to. Vote. Even when. It's not exciting. I imagine you think the presence he said he had better over time ago. At what point does experienced become a liability would they put this in my mind was reading them by cases memoir he talks about being in the meetings in view. I'm talking about the rate of asylum laws saying maybe he's getting too cautious he's been there too long that are risk. Well what what officers this I believe in term moments presence. Because I think that. That there is no doubt I'm a better president now that I was when I start. I am the best president I've ever been. Over the last year or are too. My team has more effective than it's ever. But what is also true is is that. Number one. This is growing and sustaining. The energy and focus involved in doing a good job. I think starts to. Search gets tougher. The longer you do it. The second thing is the bubbles the bubble and and I think we've done a pretty good job staying in touch with the American people but at a certain point. You can't help but. Lose. Some feel for what's on the ground because. You're not on the ground. And if you didn't think from could win. Case in point. So. So that tells me that there's a utility. In the democracy refreshing itself on an ongoing basis. And and that's part of what I tried describes my team and supporters after the election there's a lot of disappointment. In a white what I said to them is what we we ran our light of the hours. And we did it darn good job. I can document in fact this past week were we've put out memos from every agency. Short what did we do try to be as honest as possible. There's a little hype involved obviously we feel supplied about it but try to be self critical as well you can argue that we didn't get everything done that we want to give them. But I can make a really strong argument and I think prove that by almost every measure the country's better off now but when I start what that means that is. That. If we started here and we're now here just like I describe in health care. Yeah. Somebody comes and they got new ideas maybe ideas that are completely operas are my ideas maybe some of it goes maybe some of that progress goes back. Maybe they think are some things we don't think of in sewing some other areas. We can learn something. But. That just gives. Serve the democracy or an opportunity to test ideas. For those who lost. Catch their breath and regain energy. Reenergize themselves and then get back and they don't know animal makes more progress in. Here's one possible big exception in the first line your bags try to be first African American president. Heart of your promise we first burst on the national scene bringing everyone together. And you look now and most African Americans think you're going backwards on race relations. Over the last eight years what do you say to that. I am absolutely convinced that race relations. On the whole are actually better now than before towns yes B. But. We have greater awareness. Of where we're falling short them when used but let's just take root example of community police relations. And the truth the matter is that. The problem of police shootings and reactions in the community. George you and I are about the same age. I think you remember. What happened in Los Angeles after Rodney King I think you're what the divisions that happened after the OJ trial I think you're. That the notion that somehow any of that is new. Isn't the case what is true though is now we've got a bunch of videos that. What ever side of the issues are wrong raises. The temperature obvious issues and makes people really focused in and and and trying to figure out what exactly is this. And I think that is a healthy thing. I also I'm not so out of touch that I don't see how young people in Iraq today. And what's great like FaceBook like video yesterday well it was horrific. It's not as if that's the first time that the hate crime has taken place. In this country hate crimes have been taken place for. Hundreds of years in this country but it's there on video. Seeing cruelty and callousness. Of that sort. From young people. Is heartbreaking and so naturally if you see a video like that you're gonna save yourself. My god this is horrible. And and rightfully so but that allows us than to talk about. How how how do we break free from those kinds of attitudes during the course my presence. Crime has been the lowest it's been charged since the sixties. You wouldn't know it if you're watching TV you're looking at the Internet and you certainly when north. Listening to this past campaign. They there are some exceptions Chicago my hometown in particular. But overall in the country there's a much safer place than it is today. And so. We have to recognize. We've got some big problems on race just like we get still big problems on crime just like we're got big problems on just about everything. But we also have to make sure the we've draw confidence from the progress that we have made because otherwise. You get in this cycle of cynicism. And you also you get into. Unrealistic expectations where you expect that. What we're gonna eliminate racism like that after Obama collected how could there be any racism. You know that that that was never realistic expectation of one final question. That very strong memory of your inaugural. In that moment your walking out of the capital. People president elect of United States Barack. Bates whole club are. People often first and pause. And take it all. You remember what you're thinking feeling at that moment. I was just thinking. To myself let's make sure I don't screw this. I think there is a a do people always talk about a quarter. I don't care how quarry. JFK gave private greatest inauguration speech ever that first time but I get to you when he first walked out there respect. Goodness gracious. This is this is this has been. And I better be up to protest. I think the second inauguration. You may were call. I finish my speech. Was walking out and I decided you know what let me turn. Remember. And what I remember thinking. At that point having gone through both the ups and downs of my first four years. And seeing this sea of people. Was. What a remarkable country business and how lucky am. And that. That we live in a place where. The son of single mom. Not born and any kind of fame or fortune and a pretty remote state. Somehow. Can end up. Being in a position to to make a difference. And at that moment just a little under two weeks from now. When presently have finished his dios. Power passes from you'd hand what emotionally be left with. It's hard to say it's hard to anticipate I can't tell you what I'm feeling right now is. That I'm. Busier than I expected these last two weeks. A great deal of emotion around. The people. But I've worked worked and the gratitude I feel for the sacrifices they've made on behalf of the American people but also on behalf for me personally. And I think I will still. Feel that same appreciation. For. What. Churchill and others it's. Is the worst former governments that all the alternatives. To present thank you very much thank you. Just twelve days left another president coming in we'll be right back.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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