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Obama Video Clips > 2007-05-13 - This Week George Stephanopoulos 

MAY 13, 2007


Today on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in his first Sunday morning interview since announcing his 2008 presidential run.



OBAMA: There is not a black America and a white America and
Latino America and Asian America. There's the United States of


OBAMA: But keep in mind, I'm not interested in bringing people
together just for the sake of bringing people together. I'm not naive
enough to think that if we all hold hands and sing "
Kumbaya" that
somehow health care gets solved or, you know, education gets solved.
Right now, what we need to make significant progress on these problems
is to be able to build enough bridges to get things done.

So, I'm furious about the young men that I see standing on
corners on the South Side of Chicago without hope, without
opportunity, without prospects for the future. I am furious about the
mothers I meet here in Iowa who are giving me hugs and telling me
about their son who died in a war and asking, did their son die for a
It breaks my heart. But what I know is that the only way we're
going to solve the problem is not to assign blame. It's to say,
"Here's a vision for the future that we can do something about."

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've had to ask for Secret Service protection
awful early in this campaign. Were you reluctant?



OBAMA: I'm not an entourage guy. You know, up until recently, I
was still, you know, taking my wife Michelle's grocery list and going
to the grocery store once in awhile. And so obviously it's
constrained, but I'm obviously appreciate of their efforts. They're
extraordinarily professional.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Durbin, your friend, who talked to the
review board, said a lot of the threats that were coming in are
racially motivated. How serious are they? How much are you told?
How much do you worry about it?

OBAMA: You know, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it
or considering the details of this. But just to broaden the issue,
are there people who would be troubled with an African-American
president? Yes. Are there folks who might not vote for me because
I'm African-American? No doubt.

What I'm confident about, though, as I travel around the country,
is that people are decent at their core in America. The vast majority
of folks want to do the right thing.

If I don't win, it's not going to be because of my race. It's
going to be because I didn't project a vision of leadership that gave
people confidence. It's going to be because of something I didn't do
as opposed to because I'm African-American.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've been thinking about running for president
a long time. Your brother-in-law says he talked to you about it in
the early '90s.

OBAMA: He might have brought it up. I'm not sure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you dispute that?


OBAMA: You know, what's wonderful about this whole process is
that everybody has -- everybody looks at me now through the lens of
where I am now. You know, I had my high school teacher saying what a
wonderful, studious guy he was. And I was goofing off the whole time,
and they were calling up the principal. I think there's a lot of
self-correction that takes place (inaudible).

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but there's one more. Valerie Jarrett, a
good friend of the family says, you told her in your Senate race, "I
just think I have some special qualities, and wouldn't it be a shame
to waste them."

OBAMA: That, I think I probably did say.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What are they?

OBAMA: I think that I have the capacity to get people to
recognize themselves in each other. I think that I have the ability
to make people get beyond some of the divisions that plague our
society and to focus on common sense and reason.

OBAMA: And that's been in short supply over the last several

You know, I'm not an ideologue. Never have been. Even during my
younger days when I was tempted by sort of more radical or left-wing
politics, there was a part of me that always was a little bit
conservative in that sense, that believes that you make progress by
sitting down, listening to people, recognizing everybody's concerns,
seeing other people's points of views, and them making decisions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question. Everyone is going to be
watching this on Mother's Day, and a lot of America is going to get to
know a lot about you over the next year, but they're never going to
know your mom. She passed away a little more than 10 years ago.
What's the most important lesson she taught you?

OBAMA: She was the sweetest soul I've ever known, and I think
that quality that I just talked about, the capacity to see the world
through somebody else's eyes or to stand in their shoes, is what she
gave to me in great abundance. And I think that capacity is what's
needed right now in this moment.

There have been other moments in history where maybe some other
skills were needed, but I think bringing the country together -- and,
by the way, bringing the world together -- so that there's that sense
of mutual recognition is something that I get directly from my mother.
And I think her spirit acts powerfully on me throughout the course of
this campaign.