Ms. Chung. Good morning, Mr. President. Mr. Rather. Good morning, Mr. President.
The President. Good morning, Dan. Good morning, Connie.
Ms. Chung. Mr. President, I was watching you on "CBS This Morning," and you were very funny. I think I heard you say that you also had a manicure in California. Is that right?
The President. I was kidding, you know. It was a joke. J-O-K-E. [Laughter]
Ms. Chung. But I also could hear a lot of excuses when you talked about the Travel Office problem, the haircut, the economy, the jobs stimulus program. Why not admit if indeed there was a mistake perhaps with the Travel Office or with the haircut? Why not just say so?
The President. I did say that. I mean, the haircut thing was a boner, but I'm just saying I did ask whether I would inconvenience anybody and was told I wouldn't. It was a mistake. What else is there to say?
The Travel Office thing, obviously I don't think it was handled as well as it should have been, and so I said so. Now that I've said this, I challenge you to tell the American people that I think that we have a right to run an office with three people instead of seven at taxpayers' expense, the primary job of which is to arrange travel for people who travel with me. And I challenge you to tell the American people that we saved 25 percent on the very first flight that we put out for competitive bid. I take responsibility for any mistakes made in The White House, and mistakes were made in the way that was handled, absolutely. But the goal was to save taxpayer money and to save the press money. And the press complained to me about how much the plane rides cost. I'm just trying to fix it. I still think we can achieve the goal and correct the mistakes. We did make a mistake.
Obviously, on the stimulus thing—no one asked me about that—if we would have followed the right strategy somehow we would have won, and we didn't. But if you try to do a lot of things, you're going to make some mistakes. I'm going to admit my mistakes. All I want to do is to have the kind of relationship, with you and others, that will present me as I am to the American people and not as some sort of clay figure that's, all pulled out of shape. I'm going to make a lot of—you get out and go to bat every day, you're going to make mistakes. Babe Ruth struck out twice as many times as he hit home runs. And so I expect to strike out. But I'm going to make a few hits too, if I keep going to bat.
Mr. Rather. Mr. President, we will accept that challenge. And Connie joins the "CBS Evening News" next Tuesday night; we hope you'll be watching. She'll accept that challenge and meet what you said.
The President. I think you two will be great together. I'm excited about it.
Mr. Rather. Thank you, Mr. President, thank you.
The President. Bye-bye. Thank you.
Mr. Rather. Mr. President, if we could be one one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been together in The White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners.
As you know, Mr. President, I pride myself on trying to ask the tough questions. So I'm not going to apologize in advance for this question, but I do want to put you on tough question alert.
The President. Go ahead, I'm bleeding already. Go ahead. [Laughter]
President's Television Habits
Mr. Rather. You've been through 2 hours of questioning this morning with two of the most insightful questioners on telev ...
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