Barack Obama photo

Interview with Brit Hume of Fox News

September 25, 2008

HUME: We're now joined by an unexpected though hardly unwelcome guest. Senator Barack Obama joins us from the Mayflower hotel in downtown Washington. Senator, welcome to you, sir.

OBAMA: Thank you so much, Brit. I was enjoying listening to your newscast.

HUME: I appreciate it.

You were in that meeting at White House today. Our reporters are telling us that it got pretty contentious. How would you characterize the meeting?

OBAMA: I think that there are still some differences of opinion. And, you know, I have I have strong opinions that we shouldn't have gotten into this mess in the first place.

I also do believe that we have to act because regardless of the problems of speculators taking exorbitant risks with other peoples' money or regulators being asleep at the switch, we do have a situation where people's jobs, people's homes, small businesses could all potentially be at risk if we don't deal with the credit crisis.

HUME: Did what you hear today leave you with the view that the differences that you noted are susceptible of resolutions, say, in the next 24-48 hours, or does it seem farther apart than that?

OBAMA: I think we've got a chance to go ahead and solve this problem.

Look, the president and Secretary Paulson put out a proposal. A lot of us objected to it.

But what I said was, for example, that we needed oversight. We needed to make sure this wasn't going to big CEO bonuses, that we had to make sure taxpayers were treated as investors so that even though you have a $700 billion price tag, that as assets appreciate, taxpayers are getting their money back, and that we're also helping the homeowners in distress, because that's the underlying problem.

On all those fronts we have seen some progress. And I think that Secretary Paulson has been working well with Democratic leaders as well as the Senate Republicans.

There seems to be still some resistance among House Republicans around some of these core principles. And the challenge for the next 24 hours or so is for the president and his Secretary of the Treasury to work with the House Republicans to get some clarity in terms of what is it that they think needs to be done.

And hopefully, it's not a matter of starting from scratch.

HUME: Wouldn't it be logical for Senator McCain as his party's nominee for president to be among those trying to influence the House Republicans?

OBAMA: Well, I think that if Senator McCain has some constructive ideas on that front, certainly he should be involved.

I mean, I have been on the phone every single day for the last week to ten days with Secretary Paulson, with the Democratic leadership, with advisors of mine like Warren Buffett to help shape some bipartisan agreement around principles.

And in fact, John McCain and I yesterday put out a joint statement outlining some principles that we shared.

HUME: Indeed.

OBAMA: So my hope is that both of us are working with our respective parties to try to arrive at something that nobody likes, because we shouldn't have been here in the first place, and that's going to be a subject for debate, but that at least we deal with the immediate short-term crisis, and then we elect a new president and make sure that we are moving the country on a different course.

HUME: One last question to you, sir, I know you have had a long day.

If tomorrow midday we are where we are and we still got an outstanding problem with a package that isn't agreeable so you can get majorities of both parties, both houses, would it make sense for you to go down to Mississippi, or would it be better for you to stay here and try to do what you could?

OBAMA: Well, here's my observation, Brit, and I think it may have been confirmed at the meeting today. When you inject presidential politics into delicate negotiations, sometimes it's not helping. The cameras change things.

And I think that right now the key is people not worrying about who gets credit or who gets blame, but just getting things done. And it's not clear to me that having presidential candidates in a high-profile way in the negotiating process is useful. I think we have to set up principles and say let's get this thing done.

But we have to present to the American people where we expect to take the country in less than four months. And the next president is going to have a whale of a job to do.

And for us, precisely at this difficult time, to be able to say to the American people for 90 minutes, and it's possible to fly down to Mississippi and back fairly quickly, that this is where we want to take the country and this is what this potentially means for you, I continue to think that's the most important thing we can do.

HUME: All right, Senator Obama, its good of you to come on. Thank you very much for joining us.

OBAMA: Thank you very much, Brit.

HUME: You bet.

Barack Obama, Interview with Brit Hume of Fox News Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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