Obama Talks Iran, Economy Before Super Bowl
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama sat down with NBC's Matt Lauer today in a brief interview aired before the Super Bowl. For the last three years the president has done exclusive game-day interviews with whichever network is airing the NFL championship game.
Besides talking about the game itself, Lauer asked Obama about the more serious headlines of the day: The U.S. economy and Iranian posturing in the Middle East.
During 2009's Super Bowl interview, also conducted by Lauer, the president said that if the Troubled Asset Relief Program's goals didn't come to fruition within three years his presidency could be a "one-term proposition."
Today he said recent positive economic numbers earned him the possibility of re-election.
"I deserve a second term," Obama said. "But we're not done."
In December, 200,000 private sector jobs were added and the unemployment rate of 8.5 percent was the lowest since 2009. According to the Department of Labor, a total 1.6 million jobs were added in 2011, up from 2010's total of 940,000.
"We're not finished," he said. "And we've got to not only boost up American manufacturing, so that not just the auto industry, but all American manufacturing is building again, and selling overseas."
The president also reaffirmed his call for increased American energy production, both oil and clean alternatives.
On the subject of Iran, Obama told Lauer he believed Israel hadn't yet decided how to handle the increased tension with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program. However, he said the dialogue between Washington and Tel Aviv would ensure no surprises.
"We have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we ever have," he said. "And my number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel."
Questioned over suggestions that Iran could retaliate by striking inside the United States, the president said he didn't see any evidence Tehran had the capability. And that while the administration's goal was to handle the Middle East state diplomatically, nothing was off the table.
"I've been very clear that we're going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and creating an arms race, a nuclear arms race, in a volatile region."
Yesterday the Iranian navy began month long exercises near the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran has threatened to close the critical oil tanker route in protest of Western sanctions. The move comes on the heels of comments made earlier this week by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatening the US and Israel against any strike at the nation's nuclear program.
As to the Super Bowl itself, Obama said that was a conflict he couldn't speculate on.
"You know, I can't call it. I think this is going to be one of those where it comes down to a turnover, or some ball on somebody's helmet."
Obama traditionally only roots for Chicago teams and wouldn't pick a favorite this year. The Obama family is having a quiet, private party to themselves to watch the big game.