Barack Obama photo

Interview with Steve Kroft on CBS' "60 Minutes"

November 16, 2008

Steve Kroft: So here we are.

The President-Elect: Here we are.

Kroft: How's your life changed in the last ten days?

The President-Elect: Well, I tell you what, there seem to be more people hovering around me. That's for sure. And, on the other hand, I'm sleeping in my own bed over the last ten days, which is quite a treat. Michelle always wakes up earlier than I do. So listen to her roaming around and having the girls come in and, you know, jump in your bed. It's a great feeling. Yeah.

Kroft: Has this been easier than the campaign trail?

The President-Elect: Well, it's different. I think that during the campaign it is just a constant frenetic, forward momentum. Here, I'm stationary. But the issues come to you. And we've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of problems, a lot of big challenges.

Kroft: Have there been moments when you've said, 'What did I get myself into?'

The President-Elect: Surprisingly enough, I feel right now that I'm doing what I should be doing. That gives me a certain sense of calm. I will say that the challenges that we're confronting are enormous. And they're multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, 'Where do I start?'

Kroft: What have you been concentrating on this week?

The President-Elect: Couple of things. Number one, I think it's important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We wanna make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible. Obviously the economy. Talking to top economic advisors about how we're gonna create jobs, how we get the economy back on track and what do we do in terms of some long-term issues like energy and healthcare. And how do we sequence those things in a way that we can actually get things through Congress?

Kroft: Are you in sync with Secretary Paulson in terms of how the $700 billion is being used?

The President-Elect: Well, look, Hank Paulson has worked tirelessly under some very difficult circumstances. We've got an unprecedented crisis, or at least something that we have not seen since the Great Depression. And I think Hank would be the first one to acknowledge that probably not everything that's been done has worked the way he had hoped it would work. But I'm less interested in looking backwards than I am in looking forwards.

Kroft: The government has spent almost $300 billion out of the TARP program.

The President-Elect: Right.

Kroft: Money that was set aside to help the financial industry. And nothing much has changed if you look at it. Nothing much has changed. It’s $300 billion. Why is that?

The President-Elect: I think the part of the way to think about it is things could be worse. I mean, we could have seen a lot more bank failures over the last several months. We could have seen an even more rapid deterioration of the economy, even a bigger drop in the stock market. So part of what we have to measure against is what didn't happen and not just what has happened.

Having said that, there's no doubt that we have not been able yet to reset the confidence in the financial markets and in the consumer markets and among businesses that allow the economy to move forward in a strong way. And my job as president is gonna be to make sure that we restore that confidence.

Kroft: Once you become president, are there things that you'll change?

The President-Elect: Well, you know I think we still have to see how this thing unfolds over the next couple of months. One area that I'm concerned about, and I've said this publicly, is we have not focused on foreclosures and what's happening to homeowners as much as I would like. We have the tools to do it. We've gotta set up a negotiation between banks and borrowers so that people can stay in their homes. That is gonna have an impact on the economy as a whole. And, you know, one thing I'm determined is that if we don't have a clear focused program for homeowners by the time I take office, we will after I take office.

Kroft: Are you being consulted by Secretary Paulson?

Is he telling you what's going on?

The President-Elect: You know what we've done is we've assigned somebody on my transition team who interacts with him on a daily basis. And, you know, we are getting the information that's required to and we're making suggestions in some circumstances about how we think they might approach some of these problems.

Kroft: Are they listening?

The President-Elect: Well, you know, that we'll find out.

Kroft: People are comparing this to 1932.

The President-Elect: Right.

Kroft:Is that a valid comparison, do you think?

The President-Elect: Well, keep in mind that 1932, 1933 the unemployment rate was 25 percent, inching up to 30 percent. You had a third of the country that was ill housed, ill clothed, unemployed. We're not going through something comparable to that. But I would say that this is as bad as we've seen since then. And if we don't take some significant steps then it could get worse.

Kroft: You have a situation right now where you have General Motors, which is in dire straits.

The President-Elect: Yeah.

Kroft: May run out of cash by the end of the year, maybe by the end of certainly, if we believe what we read in the papers, by the time you take office.

The President-Elect: Yeah. Well, let's see how this thing plays itself out. For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment, not just for individual families but the repercussions across the economy would be dire. So it's my belief that we need to provide assistance to the auto industry. But I think that it can't be a blank check.

So my hope is that over the course of the next week, between the White House and Congress, the discussions are shaped around providing assistance but making sure that that assistance is conditioned on labor, management, suppliers, lenders, all the stakeholders coming together with a plan what does a sustainable U.S. auto industry look like? So that we are creating a bridge loan to somewhere as opposed to a bridge loan to nowhere. And that's, I think, what you haven't yet seen. That's something that I think we're gonna have to come up with.

Kroft: Are there a lot of people that think that the country would probably be better off and General Motors might be better off if it was allowed to go into bankruptcy?

The President-Elect: Well, you know, under normal circumstances that might be the case in the sense that you'd go to a restructuring like the airlines had to do in some cases. And then they come out and they're still a viable operation. And they're operating even during the course of bankruptcy. In this situation, you could see the spigot completely shut off so that it would not potentially permit GM to get back on its feet. And I think that what we have to do is to recognize that these are extraordinary circumstances. Banks aren't lending as it is. They're not even lending to businesses that are doing well, much less businesses that are doing poorly. And in that circumstance, the usual options may not be available.

Kroft: When the price of oil was at $147 a barrel, there were a lot of spirited and profitable discussions that were held on energy independence. Now you've got the price of oil under $60.

The President-Elect: Right.

Kroft: Does doing something about energy is it less important now than…

Mr. Obama: It's more important. It may be a little harder politically, but it's more important.

Kroft: Why?

The President-Elect: Well, because this has been our pattern. We go from shock to trance. You know, oil prices go up, gas prices at the pump go up, everybody goes into a flurry of activity. And then the prices go back down and suddenly we act like it's not important, and we start, you know filling up our SUVs again.

And, as a consequence, we never make any progress. It’s part of the addiction, all right. That has to be broken. Now is the time to break it.

Kroft: Where is all the money going to come from to do all of these things? And is there a point where just going to the Treasury Department and printing more of it ceases to be an option?

The President-Elect: Well, look, I think what's interesting about the time that we're in right now is that you actually have a consensus among conservative Republican-leaning economists and liberal left-leaning economists. And the consensus is this: that we have to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving again, that we're gonna have to spend money now to stimulate the economy.

And that we shouldn't worry about the deficit next year or even the year after. That short term, the most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession.

Kroft: How high a priority are you placing on re-regulation of the financial markets?

The President-Elect: I think it's a top priority. I think that we have to restore a sense of trust, transparency, openness in our financial system. And keep in mind that the deregulation process, it wasn't just one party. I think there's a lot of blame to spread around.

But, hopefully, everybody's learned their lesson. And the answer is not heavy-handed regulations that crush the entrepreneurial spirit and risk taking of American capitalism. That's what's made our economy great. But it is to restore a sense of balance.

His first legislative goal will be to get Congress to pass an economic stimulus package that he hopes will create jobs and put money in the pockets of ordinary citizens, construction programs to shore up the nation's creaky infrastructure, a tax cut for the middle class and his first initiatives on health care. But some things he can do with the stroke of a pen.

Kroft: There are a number of different things that you could do early pertaining to executive orders. One of them is to shutdown Guantanamo Bay. Another is to change interrogation methods that are used by U.S. troops. Are those things that you plan to take early action on?

The President-Elect: Yes. I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn't torture. And I'm gonna make sure that we don't torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world.

Kroft: Can you give us some sense of when you might start redeployments out of Iraq?

The President-Elect: Well, I've said during the campaign, and I've stuck to this commitment, that as soon as I take office, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my national security apparatus, and we will start executing a plan that draws down our troops. Particularly in light of the problems that we're having in Afghanistan, which has continued to worsen. We've got to shore up those efforts.

Kroft: Where does capturing or killing Osama bin Laden fall?

The President-Elect: I think it is a top priority for us to stamp out al Qaeda once and for all. And I think capturing or killing bin Laden is a critical aspect of stamping out al Qaeda. He is not just a symbol, he's also the operational leader of an organization that is planning attacks against US targets.

Kroft: How close are you to settling on a cabinet?

The President-Elect: Well, I think that I've got a pretty good idea of what I'd like to see. But it takes some time to work those things through.

Kroft: When are you gonna make your first announcement?

The President-Elect: Soon.

Kroft: Next week?

The President-Elect: Soon.

Kroft: You met with Senator Clinton this week.

The President-Elect: I did.

Kroft: Is she on the short list for a cabinet position?

The President-Elect: You know, she is somebody who I needed advice and counsel from. She is one of the most thoughtful public officials that we have. Beyond that, you're not getting anything out of me Steve.

Kroft: Will there be Republicans in the cabinet?

The President-Elect: Yes.

Kroft: More than one?

The President-Elect: You're not getting more out of me.

Kroft: You've spoken to some former presidents.

The President-Elect: I have.

Kroft: Any advice, any good advice they gave you?

The President-Elect: You know, they were all incredibly gracious. But I think that all of them recognized that there's a certain loneliness to the job. That, you know, you'll get advice, and you'll get counsel. Ultimately, you're the person who's gonna be making decisions.

And I think that even now, you know, I - you can already feel that fact.

Kroft: What are you reading right now? I mean, have…

The President-Elect: A lot of briefing papers.

Kroft: A lot of briefing papers?

The President-Elect: Yeah. I've been spending a lot of time reading Lincoln. There is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.

Kroft: Put a lot of his political enemies in his cabinet.

The President-Elect: He did.

Kroft: Is that something you're considering?

The President-Elect: Well, I tell you what, I find him a very wise man.

Kroft: Have you been reading anything about the Depression? Anything about FDR?

The President-Elect: You know, I have actually. There's a new book out about FDR's first 100 days and what you see in FDR that I hope my team can-- emulate, is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence, and a willingness to try things. And experiment in order to get people working again.

And I think that's what the American people expect. You know, they're not expecting miracles. I think if you talk to the average person right now that they would say, 'Well, look, you know well, we're having a tough time right now. We've had tough times before.' 'And you know, we don't expect a new president can snap his fingers and suddenly everything is gonna be okay. But what we do expect is that the guy is gonna be straight with us. We do expect that he's gonna be working really hard for us.'

'We do expect that he's gonna be thinking about ordinary Americans and not just the wealthy and the powerful. And we do expect that. if something doesn't work that they're gonna try something else until they find something that does.' And, you know, that's the kind of common sense approach that I want to take when I take office.

Kroft: There's been talk on Capitol Hill and a number of Democratic congressmen have proposed programs that are part of sort of a new New Deal. The possibility of reviving agencies like the Home Ownership Loan Corporation.

The President-Elect: Two points I'd make on this. Number one, although there are some parallels to the problems that we're seeing now and what we say back in the '30s, no period is exactly the same. For us to simply recreate what existed back in the '30s in the 21st century, I think would be missing the boat. We've gotta come up with solutions that are true to our times and true to this moment. And that's gonna be our job. I think the basic principle that government has a role to play in kick starting an economy that has ground to a halt is sound.

I think our basic principle that this is a free market system and that that has worked for us, that it creates innovation and risk taking, I think that's a principle that we've gotta hold to as well. But what I don't wanna do is get bottled up in a lot of ideology and is this conservative or liberal. My interest is finding something that works.

And whether it's coming from FDR or it's coming from Ronald Reagan, if the idea is right for the times then we're gonna apply it. And things that don't work we're gonna get rid of.

Kroft: Are you gonna make a lot of speeches? Are you gonna talk a lot to the American people on television and radio?

The President-Elect: You know, I'm not sure that the American people are looking for a lot of speeches. I think what they're looking for is action. But one of the things that I do think is important is to be able to explain to the American people what you're doing, and why you're doing it. That is something that I think every great president has been able to do. From FDR to Lincoln to John Kennedy to Eisenhower. I mean, I think that they were people who were able to say 'Here's the direction we're going. Here's why I think it's important. Here are the possible dangers or challenges. But ultimately, you know, this is gonna lead us to a better America.' And I want to make sure that I can recreate a bond of trust between the presidency and the public that I think has been lost.

Steve Kroft: When was the first moment that it began to sink in that you were President of the United States? Do you remember?

The President-Elect: Well, I'm not sure it's sunk in yet.

Mrs. Obama: I guess I'm sort of like him. I'm not sure if it has really sunk in. But I remember, we were watching the returns and, on one of the stations, Barack's picture came up and it said, 'President-Elect Barack Obama. ' And I looked at him and I said, 'You are the 44th President of the United States of America. Wow. What a country we live in.'

The President-Elect: How about that?

Mrs. Obama: Yeah.

The President-Elect: Yeah. Yeah. And then she said 'Are you gonna take the girls to school in the morning?'

Mrs. Obama: I did not. I didn't say that.

The President-Elect: It wasn't at that moment.

Kroft: You made the address in Grant Park. And you brought the kids out. And, at some point you whispered something. Can you remember that?

Mrs. Obama: I said, 'Wow, Look at this.'

The President-Elect: How 'bout that?

Mrs. Obama: I told him, 'Good job. Well done.' To walk out there and see hundreds of thousands of hard working folks, because so many people put their energy and their hopes into this campaign. To see the outcome and the emotion, it was a very emotional evening because I think people were ready to take hold of this country and help move it in a different direction and you felt that.

Kroft: The emotion of that night was fueled, in part, by the fact that you were first African-American ever elected. Did you feel that?

The President-Elect: There's no doubt that there was a sense of emotion that I could see in people's faces and in my mother-in-law's face. You know, I mean, you think about Michelle's mom, who grew up on the west and south sides of Chicago, who worked so hard to help Michelle get to where she is, her brother to be successful. She was sitting next to me, actually, as we were watching returns. And she's like my grandmother was, sort of a no-fuss type of person. And suddenly she just kind of reached out and she started holding my hand, you know, kind of squeezing it. And you had this sense of, 'Well, what's she thinking?' For a black woman who grew up in the 50s, you know, in a segregated Chicago, to watch her daughter become first lady of the United States. I think there was that sense across the country. And not unique to African-Americans. I think that.

Mrs. Obama: That's right.

The President-Elect: I think people felt that it was a sign of the enormous progress that we've made in the core decency and generosity of the American people. Which isn't to say that there were a number of reasons that somebody might not have voted for me. But what was absolutely clear was is that whether people voted for me or against me, that they were making the judgment based on is this guy gonna, you know, lead us well? Is this guy gonna be a good president? And that was my assumption walking in. And that's how it turned out. And that felt good.

Kroft: What was your conversation like the next morning at the breakfast table with the kids.

Mrs. Obama: Yeah, everyone was tired.

The President-Elect: Because they had been up until midnight.

Mrs. Obama: They had been up. But we got up and went to school. But we went to school late. Barack, you slept in. You know, so I think we were just back into the routine. Our hopes are to just to keep the girls moving. It's like okay , Daddy's president-elect, okay, we can get to school by 10. And we got to the school and the folks at the school were excited. Some people were cheering as I walked the kids to the class. And I remember Malia saying, 'That's embarrassing.' But you know, it was a pretty normal day for us.

And there have not been many of those. The past two years were spent on the campaign trail and before that Senator Obama split his time between their home in Chicago where Michelle and the girls lived, and a very modest apartment in Washington, which nearly burned down.

Kroft: So, you've given up the apartment in Washington that you stayed in?

The President-Elect: I used to get teased, not just by Michelle, but by my own staff. They'd say, 'You know, you're the only senator that has a worse apartment than your 25-year-old staff people.' Eventually, I think, Secret Service kind of looked at me like, you know, once the building caught fire, and the ceiling caved in, I said…

Mrs. Obama: But he moved back in anyway.

The President-Elect: For a while.

Mrs. Obama: After the fire.

The President-Elect: Shortly.

Kroft: Did you ever stay there?

Mrs. Obama: I visited, but I didn't sleep there.

The President-Elect: She insisted on a hotel room.

Mrs. Obama: I saw it. I saw it long enough to know that I wasn't gonna stay there.

The President-Elect: Yeah

Kroft: It is one bedroom? Studio?

The President-Elect: Yeah, it was sort of a one bedroom. It had kind of the vintage, college dorm, pizza…

Kroft: Community organizer, right?, feel to it.

Mrs. Obama: It reminded me of a little better version of the apartment you were in when we first started dating. That was a dump too.

The President-Elect: Right near Harold's Chicken Shack.

Mrs. Obama:Yeah.

The President-Elect: Yeah. That's when I had the car with the-the hole in it.

Mrs. Obama: And you could see the sidewalk, because the rust had gone through.

The President-Elect: The air-conditioning.

Mrs. Obama: So that was my side. I would look and see the ground going past. And I still married him.

The President-Elect: That's how I knew she loved me. It wasn't for my money.

They got their first look at their new home last Monday, when the President and Laura Bush invited the Obamas to the White House, which has 130 more rooms than that old Washington apartment.

Kroft: What was it like going through there?

Mrs. Obama: Well, first of all, Laura Bush was just so gracious. She is a really sweet person. And couldn't have been more excited and enthusiastic about the tour. So that was wonderful. And her entire team, their team has been working closely just to make us feel welcome. But the White House is beautiful. It is awe-inspiring. It is. What I felt walking through there was that it is a great gift and an honor to be able to live here. And you know we want to make sure that we're upholding what that house stands for. But I couldn't help but envisioning the girls running into their rooms and, you know, running down the hall and with a dog. And, you know, you start picturing your life there. And our hope is that the White House will feel open and fun and full of life and energy.

The President-Elect: Sleepovers.

Mrs. Obama: And sleepovers.

Kroft: I know that from talking to you, you've said that this has put a lot of, you know, your husband’s involvement in politics has put strains in your marriage from time to time. He's about to take over the most pressure packed job in the world. But he's also gonna be home, right?

Mrs. Obama: Oh yeah. He's got a big office at home now.

You know, this entire year and a half has brought us closer together as a family. And we managed to stay close and become even closer with Barack gone most of an entire two year period. And now we get to be together under the one roof, having dinners together. And, you know, I envision the kids coming home from school and being able to run across the way to the Oval Office and see their dad before they start their homework. And having breakfast. And he'll be there to tuck them in at night. And, you know, again, you know, there'll be moments of deep seriousness and times of great focus. But, you know, we'll be together doing that. And that gives me reason to be very excited.

[But that's not the only thing that is about to change for the Obamas. When 60 Minutes first met them two years ago in Chicago, everything was much simpler.]

Kroft: I can remember the first time we went to your house We were greeted at the door by the girls. They were a little smaller then. A couple years younger. But that has to have changed. I mean, you can't get in the car and drive all over Chicago, right?

The President-Elect: Yeah. I remember the first time we interviewed - we just drove down right near your mom’s house.

Mrs. Obama: Oh, that's right. That's right. You did.

The President-Elect: Got out of the car, walked--

The President-Elect: Yeah, that's a little harder to do now.

Kroft: You told me that when you went off to Washington and made the decision to live there and when you came back to Chicago you had certain chores that you had to perform. You had to wash the dishes and make your bed.

The President-Elect: Yeah.

Kroft: Are you free now on that front?

The President-Elect: Well, I…

Kroft: Certainly there's gonna be somebody else to wash the dishes and make your bed.

Mrs. Obama: Yes.

The President-Elect: There sometimes it's soothing to wash the dishes.

Mrs. Obama: You? Since when was it ever soothing for you to wash the dishes?

The President-Elect: You know, when I had to do it. I'd make it into a soothing thing.

Mrs. Obama: The thing you have to remember, Steve, is that you, the interesting part about this year is that it is slowly transitioned us into this. So today doesn't feel as normal as it did yesterday. If we had compared it to the January before he announced, it would seem truly odd. But we have gradually, you know, had more and more changes. And I think, for us, that's helped us get adjusted to do it. So today isn't a shock.

The President-Elect: One of the great joys of this campaign is the seeing how the girls have adjusted to this thing. They have stayed their normal, cheerful, happy, courteous, curious selves. And that was one of my biggest worries. And remains one of my biggest worries. You know, when we think about, I know Michelle and I have talked about this a lot. How do we just maintain that precious normalcy in our two girls? And, you know, 'cause right now they're not self-conscious. They're. you know, they don't have an attitude. And I think one of our highest priorities, over the next four years, is retaining that. If at the end of four years, just from a personal standpoint, we can say they are who they are. They remain the great joys that they are. And this hasn't, you know, created a whole bunch of problems for them. Then I think we're gonna feel pretty good.

Kroft: How has your life changed in the last ten days?

Mrs. Obama: You know, it's calmed down a bit. I mean, we're-- we're back into more of a routine.

The President-Elect: There's still some things we're not adjusted to.

Mrs. Obama: Like what?

The President-Elect: Like--

Mrs. Obama: What do you want?

The President-Elect: Me not being able to take a walk.

Mrs. Obama: Oh, well, you know.

The President-Elect: No, I mean, though those are things that…

Mrs. Obama: I don't walk as much as he does though. So I guess I don't miss it.

The President-Elect: Yeah. I mean, you know.

Mrs. Obama: You want to go for a walk?

The President-Elect: I do. I'd love to take you for a walk. Although it's cold today. But…

Mrs. Obama: Yeah, I wouldn't go with you.

The President-Elect: I know. Well, that's something that I don't think I'll ever get used to. I mean, the loss of anonymity and this is not a complaint, this is part of what you sign up for. Being able to just wander around the neighborhood. I can't go to my old barber shop now. I've gotta have my barber come to some undisclosed location to cut my hair. You know, the small routines of life that keep you connected I think - some of those are being lost. One of the challenges I think that we're going to be wrestling with is how to stay pretty normal. Because they and we said this before the campaign, and I believe this. actually think that we are as close to what normal folks go through, and what their lives are like, as just about anybody who's been elected president recently hanging onto that is something that's important. Michelle helps on that 'cause she's just a sensible person.

Kroft: I know you've said that your first priority is to be mom in chief.

Mrs. Obama: Yes.

Kroft:You're a Harvard Law School grad yourself. And a Princeton grad. You were a high-powered executive. How long do you give her, knocking around that big house, before she starts to want to imprint on the job of being first lady?

The President-Elect: I think Michelle is gonna design her own role. I think she's gonna set her own path. But I here's one thing I know about Michelle she's serious when she talks about being a mom. That's why our girls are so wonderful. I'd love to take credit for it. But this is the one who deserves most of the credit. And…

Mrs. Obama: Well, the thing we've learned, you know, as we've watched this campaign, is that people, women, are capable of doing more than one thing well at the same time. And I've, you know, had to juggle being mom in chief and having a career for a long time. The primary focus for the first year will be making sure that the kids make it through the transition. But there are many issues that I care deeply about. I care about military families and the work/family balance issue. I care about education. I, both Barack and I, believe that we can have an impact in the D.C. area. You know, in terms of making sure we're contributing to the community that we immediately live in. That's always been something that we try to do. Whether it's in our own neighborhoods or in the schools that we've attended. So there's plenty to do.

Kroft: Did you seriously consider sending the girls to public school?

Mrs. Obama: You know, we're still in the process of figuring out that transition. And what we have asked people to understand is that the decision that we make will be based on the best interest of the girls. We haven't made that decision yet. And you know, we want that to be a persona; process. And people have been really good about respecting that.

Steve Kroft: How are things coming on the dog front?

Mrs. Obama: The dog, the dog front? We're on-call mode on the dog front. Because the deal with the dog was that we would get the dog after we got settled. Because as responsible owners, I don't think it would be good to get a dog in the midst of transition. So when we settle, get in a routine, we think about late winter, early spring, we're gonna get the dog. Now, we cut that deal with the kids before America knew about it. So they're good with it.

The President-Elect: Although, Americans…

Mrs. Obama: They're ready for us to get the dog now.

The President-Elect: They are ready.

Kroft: We put the paper down here just in case.

Mrs. Obama: Is that…

The President-Elect: I was wondering what that was for.

Kroft: You brought it today.

The President-Elect: I thought it was some trick for the lighting or something.

Mrs. Obama: It's about dogs. That's good.

Kroft: Do you have a special transition team for the dog? Or are you just doing that?

Mrs. Obama: We don't…. This is a family event. We're getting a lot of suggestions though. Boy, I mean the people are sending suggestions. And we're taking it all under advisement.

Kroft: There's been a lot of talk about [that] you talked about your mother-in-law. Is she moving in with you?

The President-Elect: Well, I don't tell my mother-in-law what to do. But I'm not stupid. That's why I got elected president, man.

Kroft:She can if she wants to.

The President-Elect: But, she sure can if she wants. I think it's fair to say that Marian Robinson is one of the unsung heroes of this campaign. We couldn't have done it without her. 'Cause she retired, looked after the girls, gave Michelle confidence that somebody was gonna be there when Michelle was on the road.

She's just been an unbelievable support for all of us during this process. And you know, she likes her own space, you know. She doesn't like a lot of fuss around her. And, like it or not, there's some fuss in the White House. But we hope that she comes.

Kroft: So you have a new dog and your mother-in-law moving in.

The President-Elect: Steve, I'm not gonna compare my mother-in-law to a new dog.

Kroft: You’re much more excited about your mother-in-law

The President-Elect: How do you get in long with your mother-in-law man? You know, the way these questions are going I think I need to give you some tips.

Kroft: We get along fine. I have one last question. As president of the United States, what can you do, or what do you plan to do, about getting a college football playoff for the national championship?

The President-Elect: This is important. Look, excuse me for a second.

Mrs. Obama: Please. Don't mind me.

The President-Elect: I think any sensible person would say that if you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear decisive winner that we should be creating a playoff system.

Eight teams. That would be three rounds, to determine a national champion. It would it would add three extra weeks to the season. You could trim back on the regular season. I don't know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I'm gonna throw my weight around a little bit. I think it's the right thing to do.

Barack Obama, Interview with Steve Kroft on CBS' "60 Minutes" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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