President Obama on Toughest Decision He Made in Office

The president discusses the Democratic Party, and the toughest decision he made while in office.
12:11 | 01/08/17

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Transcript for President Obama on Toughest Decision He Made in Office
During the campaign. Maybe speeches you see all the progress we've made in the last two years go out the window. If we don't win. Still think that. No I think that. Did the risk. To all the progress we've made. What's at stake in the election because us. Not just the president liked but. Four members of congress including now the speaker of the house and the senate majority leader and have said that. Their principal agenda was to undo a lot of this progress. But. As I've been talking about our last little there's more comes to health care. Big gains that we've made are there. Tori Murray people have health insurance the dinner before. The uninsured rate is lost or. The rising health care costs cents. Obama care and affordable cure act was passed. Have been at their lowest rate in fifteen years. Those savings are expended the Medicare trust fund by eleven years we've got a baseline of facts here intruders here's where we work here's where we are now. So. It is true theoretically. That. All that progress can be on done and suddenly twenty million people or more don't have health insurance. But as I think Republicans and our. Recognizing. That's may not be what they murder people including even cash trump voters. Are looking for and my hope is that the president elect. Members of congress from both parties. Look at where have we objective we've made progress where things are working better. Don't on do things just because I did them I don't have pride of authorship are set today in a form on health care. If the Republicans can come up with a system that ensures more people cheaper better. I will be the first one I think operational you don't think they can do it well I am skeptical that they can do it mainly because for seven years now including when we first tried to pass health care. I central okay if this doesn't work tell me what does. In this room are murmur having meetings where if Republican senators who initially had been trying to engage put solve the politics of no were. Growing inside the Republican Party. And I murmur of incarceration in the Oval Office would marvel senators who. Was with started get a little sheepish about what compromises Smart. Garter has support. And finally ask them is there any changes like America would get news corpus surprise spurs which was. A nice. Change in terms of this camper. But. What what that means then is is that now the burden is to take a look don't just oppose things because. This was Obama's agenda town think that's what's happening and how well that's what's happening at the moment people are anxious about their future in the children's futures. But they don't want folks to be reckless and they don't want this town to just be tougher test and it. You're one of gratifying things I think about the end of my presidency. Even though admittedly. My successor. Ran against. A lot of what we stood for. Is when you look at the individual. Issues and the progress that we've middle a lot of those issues we've got the support group pretty decent majority even on health care what you've seen is. A lot of stories surfacing only way about people groups well I vote for trump but I don't think he's really gonna take with obamacare gonna survive. A farewell horror. It may be called something else. And and as I sort of had I don't mind. If in fact the Republicans make some modifications some of which I may have been seeking previously. But they've won cooperate because they don't want our. Make the system work. And re label it as trump care of fun we're back. Be it because what I'm thinking about are. The millions of people many of whom write me very personal letters. Dear Mr. President I did not vote for I was against. Obamacare. And then. My son. Rudimentary health insurance. Signed up and we just found out that he had no less and thankfully. He's not covered otherwise. He might undergone treatment or model lost my house you have. People around the country. Who are benefiting from the steps that we've taken and as long as they continue to have helped. And at least I'll know my own mind that. The work we did hear had a lasting impact. You've often said these are tough to stay in office who did Newtown. Shootings what your toughest decision. The toughest decision was. Early. In my presidency. Win. I've ordered 30000 more troops into Afghanistan. As somebody who it wrong to end. A large. Troop presence overseas. Now I've said from the start that I thought Iraq was a mistake that we should've stayed focused on Afghanistan. I think it was the right decision because fatale bond at that point has gotten a lot of momentum. Since that time we've been able to build up there against Kurdish forces in stabilizer. But. That was the first time. In which. I looked out. At. A crowd. Of West Point graduates. And knew that some of those might not come back we have this morning because of that decision. And how disappointing to hear that even though it's far fewer. There are still be troops in Afghanistan and still be troops in Iraq as you leave. Well one of the things that I've learned I think we've all learned is that we are not going to get. The kind of decisive. Permanent. Victories. In this fight against terrorism. That. We would get from fighting a another country. We're not going to get that MacArthur emperor. Moment. Because by definition. Even after decimating. All Qaeda and the Fatah even after taken out that a lot they're still people there who. Have both boat the interest and the capacity we don't maintain vigilance. Strike against the United States and these are still countries that are fragile enough that we're gonna have to partner Wear them in some way but. We don't have this huge footprint we are less likely to be targeted as. You know occupiers. And if you look at the current Mosul campaigning and I against Marshall for example. Few thousand troops that we have there to support that effort. Allow us Iraqi military to. Move forward and an effective way now would be doing this for us is if we had. 50000 around a thousand Marines and there obviously not. But it does give us the ability to make sure that. We are strengthening. Those folks were interest in building up their countries rather than destroying them and doing so in a way that is sustainable and doesn't. Put constant burden on these days minimum but we've gotten here would have to be this woman on the homefront has said hey let's think darker part of after the hollowed out. On your watch about a thousand seats lost in congress and governors statehouses is that I'm you. I think were some responsibility for that I think that some of it was circumstances. If you look at. What happened. I came in in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the repression. I think we. Did a really good job and saving this economy. And putting us back on track for growth but what that Madison 2010. There are a lot of folks were still out of work for a lot of folks who have lost their homes or saw there. Oh oh home values plummet. Before one case plummet and we were just at the beginnings of a recovery. And the purpose you know whoever. Is president that point is get hit in this part is gonna get hit. So some of this was circumstances. But I think that what is also true is that. Partly because my docket was really full here. I couldn't be both. Chief organizer of the Democratic Party and function as commander in chief and president the states. We we did not. Begin. What I think needs to happen. Over the long haul and that is rebuild the Democratic Party. At the ground level part of your job now that well I think that it's something that I have an interest. I started as a New York us. Every one of my campaigns was premised on getting new people involved. And if there's a theme in my my public career it's that if Warner people get involved in good things happen. So. I want to see the Democratic Party. Move in that direction. And what that means is that we are. Just. Micro targeting to eke out presidential victories it means the we're showing up in places were right now where women want. But you're not in there at least make an argument that hey you know what. It's the Democrats were trying to raise your minimum wage if the Democrats are trying to make sure you got health care or that your health care costs are killing. It's Democrats who were making sure that your kids are drinking polluted water if we're not there making the argument. Then. The the cultural. Golf. That Republicans. Try to exports an obvious city slickers are all looking down on him. They don't care about you that argument ends up being successful. And so we've got to do a better job of showing up and I was able to do that. When I with the candidates. But. I have not. I've not seen. Or are presided over that kind of systematic outreach that I think it needs to happen. And when we come back to press reflects on his place in history. What's the one sentence he hopes will define his presidency.

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

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