Barack Obama photo

Interview With Harry Smith on CBS' "Early Show"

July 30, 2010

[Broadcast Date: August 2, 2010]

Harry Smith: As we end July, it's the most deadly month for U.S. troops since the war began in 2001. It almost feels like a slippery slope.

The President: If I didn't think that it was important for our national security to finish the job in Afghanistan, then I would pull them all out today, because I have to sign letters to these family members when a loved one is lost.

We now have a strategy that can work. We've got one of our best generals in Dave Petraeus on the ground. I've been very clear that we are going to move forward on a process of training Afghans so that they can provide for their own security and that, by the middle of next year, by 2011, we are going to start thinning out our troops and giving Afghans more responsibility.

I will tell you that I have not met a single young man or woman who's in uniform right now who's served in Afghanistan who doesn't think that that's an important mission.

Harry Smith: Why is this economy now not growing the way people in the country would want it to grow?

The President: This has been an extraordinary downturn. So that means that if you're in a deeper hole, it's going to take longer to come back. When we've lost as many jobs as we have, when you've seen as much hardship, people losing values in their homes and their 401Ks, et cetera, people have every right to be scared, to be angry, to be frustrated.

And I took this job because I was convinced that I could solve these problems, not just short term, but long term. But I also knew this was going to be a bumpy road ahead. And I don't expect the American people to be satisfied when we're only half of the way back. We've got to keep on growing faster than we're currently growing. We've got to make sure that we deal with the long-term unemployment that's out there, which is a huge problem.

Harry Smith: A federal judge backed up your opinion of the Arizona immigration law. The method is wrong. Is the mission correct?

The President: The mission of controlling our immigration process is absolutely correct. And that's why my administration's actually put more resources on the border to the point where we now have more of everything -- border patrols, more overflights, and, you know, more immigration agents. You name it, we've got more of them on the borders. And we want to work with Arizona.

I understand the frustration of the people of Arizona. But what we can't do is demagogue the issue and what we can't do is allow a patchwork of 50 different states or cities or localities where anybody who wants to make a name for themselves suddenly says, "I'm going to be anti-immigrant and I'm going to try to see if I can solve the problem ourselves."

This is a national problem. We've got a comprehensive system that not only deals with our border, but also deals with the 11 million undocumented workers who are here, giving them a pathway so that they can actually be citizens here in the United States.

Harry Smith: BP, as is its right, looks like it's going to take about a $10 billion tax write-off on the money that it's expending for the Gulf cleanup. Should they do it?

The President: My priority has been to make sure that the fishermen, the store owners, the bait-shop owners, those folks are made whole. We've gotten now a commitment that is almost complete in terms of structure for $20 billion to help them. They're also going to have to pay for the entire cleanup down there, and that includes the bills from us, the federal government.

So they -- as long as they are meeting their obligations, then my attitude is that, you know, they should be treated like other companies when it comes to what their taxes are.

Barack Obama, Interview With Harry Smith on CBS' "Early Show" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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