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Sweet blog column extra: Obama on Leno jabs Hillary. Leno asks "You would leave your wife alone with Bill Clinton?" Obama/>"Hillary is not the first politician in Washington to declare mission accomplished a little too soon." Transcript.


CHICAGO--NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno and White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) just discussed whether Obama draped his underwear over a doorknob. Obama said he did not, would try it, and asked Leno if that was his habit. But the best repartee had to do with whether Obama would leave his wife alone with Bill Clinton.

The underwear bit was just part of Obama's schtick with Leno on a Wednesday, a day Obama spent taping guest shots in Los Angeles.

Wearing his trademark tieless white shirt and dark suit, Obama, prompted by Leno, jabbed chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) who is surging in national and state polls. "Hillary appears to be a shoo-in is what they say. How discouraging is that? said Leno, handing the set-up to Obama.

Not discouraging at all, said Obama. "Hillary is not the first politician in Washington to declare mission accomplished a little too soon."

Former President Bill Clinton is a major surrogate for his wife and Leno asked Obama about the Bill factor.
Obama touted wife Michelle, his chief surrogate.

"Although Michelle, my wife, is no slouch. You see -- if there's a debate between Michelle and Bill, you know, I'm putting my money on my girl," said Obama.

Obama gave Leno an opening and he grabbed the chance. Leno tossed back, "You would leave your wife alone with Bill Clinton, would you? You want to rethink that?"

Said Obama, "Michelle can handle herself. She doesn't flinch."

(double checking tape to listen for that last word.)


JAY LENO: My first guest, often treated like a rock

star, actually he's a Senator from Illinois, and he's

running for President of the United States. Always

exciting when we have the candidates here. Please

welcome Senator Barack Obama.


JAY LENO: I have to ask you about your family. Dick

Cheney, you and he are eighth cousins.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Yeah. How about that? Yeah.

Not kissing cousins.


JAY LENO: No. No. Did you know about this? Did you

find --

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I actually did know. People have

been doing these genealogical studies of me, and I've

got all kinds of rogues in my background, you know.

You're always hoping for, you know, kings and great



JAY LENO: It always happens. You're always related to

Alexander the Great --

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Right. That's what I was hoping

for. Cleopatra or something. Turns out it's the guy --

the cattle wrestler.


JAY LENO: Exactly. Lynn Cheney is the one that sort of

brought this to light.


JAY LENO: Has your approval rating dropped since you're

related, you and your Republican buddy?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: The truth is I am okay with it.

You know, now I don't want to be invited to the family

hunting party.



We'll avoid that. But...

JAY LENO: We have a picture of a family reunion.

What's happening? Is that Christmas morning? What's

happening there?


three-year-old, who was up there, she's now six, but at

the time she was three. She went up -- this is the mock

swearing in where you become a Senator. And Cheney

shakes hands with me and Michelle and our older

daughter, and my youngest daughter decides to give him

five. So she was like trying to get him accustomed to

his peeps.


Sort of giving him a little -- yeah.


SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Getting acclimated to the family.

JAY LENO: Exactly. Exactly. I gotta ask you about

something today a little more seriously. And it was

scary to hear these words. President Bush today was

warning about Iran and nukes, and he said, you know,

this is what we have to do to avoid World War III. And

I must say, just to hear a President just use the words

World War III, a little scary. Your reaction.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: You know what? I am really

frustrated by an administration that continually rattles

the Saber, is all about military force, has not done the

diplomatic work that needs to be done to contain Iran.

Now, Iran is a serious threat if it gets nuclear

weapons, and we should mobilize the international

community to get them to stand down.

But when you use language like that, what it does is it

alienates the rest of the world. It makes it more

difficult for us to mobilize the worlds' community to

put economic sanctions on Iran. And keep in mind, we

have a war in Afghanistan. We've got a war in Iraq.

Our military is extraordinarily overstretched, and at

this point in time, I think it -- you know, I hope that

the President will be a little more sober and

responsible in the language he uses, because this is not



JAY LENO: Let me ask you, you've been campaigning for

quite a while now. Anything surprised you? Obviously

they brief you. You get out there and you think -- I

don't know if you saw our Jay Walking how amazing what

people don't know. Is there anything you go, "Do people

even know what we're talking about?"

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: You know, folks in Iowa are

really well informed. I'm spending a lot of time there.

JAY LENO: That's really good.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I'm just telling you, you go to

some barn somewhere and some guy in overalls and a seed

hat, he's say, "What is your policy on Burma?" And it

turns out I think people are a lot more plugged in.

Folks really want change right now. Some of it is just

reaction to the Bush Administration. But some of it is,

you know, people want to not just be against something.

They want to be for something. They want to feel as if

we can come together, that we're not just a collection

of red states and blue states. We can come together and

actually solve big problems like healthcare and energy.

And so you actually feel encouraged when you talk to the

American people. Of course, then you have to go back to


JAY LENO: Right.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: That's a downer.

JAY LENO: That's a downer.


Your strategy has changed a little bit. You're calling

yourself the underdog now. You're sort of putting

yourself --

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I've always been the underdog.

When your name is Barack Obama, you are always the

underdog. That's a given.


JAY LENO: I'm not even going to show you Jay Walk when

you get people trying to pronounce your name. Osama

Obubba? Obdu Baobama? I mean, it was like, we can't

even show this to the guy.


SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I've heard them all.

JAY LENO: Do you prefer the underdog role?


JAY LENO: Smarter at this point?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Partly because, you know, what

this campaign has always been about is change. And that

means that we're always going to be running against more

established candidates and people in Washington who have

been there longer and have a set way of doing business,

and my argument in this campaign is that we can't

provide healthcare to everybody. We can't solve global

warming. We can't solve these big problems unless we

don't just change political parties. We also change our

politics, because the special interests and the

lobbyists are too dug in.


JAY LENO: Because you and -- although you're the

underdog, financially, you and Hillary are not that far

apart in money. She's got a little more, but it's

really, what, $3 million?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We've done a great job. We've

actually raised more money from small donors than all

the other Democratic candidates combined. People are

giving $5, $10, and that makes a huge difference in us

being competitive in this race.

JAY LENO: I mean, how about the big lobbyists? Did you

not take money from them?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We do not take money from

lobbyists. We don't take money from federal registered

lobbyists. We don't take money from PACs because my

attitude is that if we're going to change Washington,

then part of the thing that we've gotta change is the

influence of money in politics.

JAY LENO: I mean, have you turned it down? Somebody go


SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We've had to send some checks



JAY LENO: Do you send it back?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Sometimes we do. Look.

Sometimes these are folks who, you know, mean well.

They want to help the campaign, but we just want to set

a policy. It's not perfect. The fact is if you're

running for President, you're raising money. You're

spending a lot of time with a lot of rich people as well

as ordinary folks. But what I do know is that we want

to send a signal we're going to try to do business

differently because the system is not working for

ordinary folks right now.

JAY LENO: How much money do you think you've turned

down? I mean, how much money -- what do you think you

would have if you were going ptttt...?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Well, you know, I won't

speculate. But a lot of the other candidates rely very

heavily on a lobbyist's money. It's a big chunk of

their change.

JAY LENO: When we come back, we'll talk a little bit

about you and Hillary --


JAY LENO: More with the Senator when we come back.

(Commercial break.)

JAY LENO: Welcome back. Senator Barack Obama. Now

you've appeared to have stepped up your criticism of

Hillary and certainly her voting for the war in 2002.

Is that a new toughness?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: You know, this is when people

start paying attention, and so all we're trying to do is

make sure that people understand the differences and the

choices that we're making. We're choosing the next

leader of the free world. It's not city council.

Everybody's got to make sure that they know going into

the polling place what people are thinking and how

they're going to approach issues. And part of what I've

been trying to do is make sure that people know that a

lot of these choices that we've got are not going to be

easy. So when I talk about global warming, I don't give

a speech to an environmental group. I go to Detroit and

I talk to the auto makers and the room gets really



JAY LENO: I bet it does.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: When I talk about fuel efficiency

standards on cars -- but that, I think, is what's

required. People -- the American people on Social

Security or healthcare, they know these are tough

problems and what they want is, I think, an honest

assessment of what it's going to take to solve the

problem and not a lot of petty-back fighting and

grandstanding. And hopefully that will be an effective

strategy in the campaign.

JAY LENO: Now, you watch the pundits in the polls, and

Hillary appears to be a shoo-in is what they say. How

discouraging is that?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: It's not discouraging.

JAY LENO: A little bit?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Hillary is not the first

politician in Washington to declare mission accomplished

a little too soon.

(Laughter and Applause.)

So we're -- we've got a long way to go before the first

vote is cast. But we do this every year, every

election. Four years ago, you know, President Howard

Dean was coronated, and that didn't work out. And so

really until those folks start going into the polling

place, these races end up being very fluid.

JAY LENO: How big a factor is Bill Clinton in this? I

was calling him the first black President, Call Dick

Cheney the first black vice president.


But how big a factor does he play? When he steps up --

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Listen. There's no doubt that

that helps Hillary's campaign. Particularly, among

Democrats, Bill Clinton is very popular. He's a great

strategist. He's very smart when it comes to the

politics of the Democratic party. And, you know, there

are a lot of chips out. People -- you develop a lot of

relationships when you're president. So that's part of

the challenge that we have to face is making sure the


people know me as well as they know her and as well as

they know Bill. Although Michelle, my wife, is no



You see -- if there's a debate between Michelle and

Bill, you know, I'm putting my money on my girl.

(Laughter and Applause.)

JAY LENO: You would leave your wife alone with Bill

Clinton, would you?


You want to rethink that?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Michelle can handle herself.


She doesn't flinch.

JAY LENO: You talked about speaking in front of groups

sometimes not always in your favor like the auto makers.

I know you reached out on evangelicals as well.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We had a wonderful event. Rick

Warren has a terrific church down in Orange County,

Saddleback Church, huge mega church, but he's real

serious about AIDS. And he invited me, and folks gave

him a hard time a little bit in sort of the evangelical

camp about it. But when you talk to people in an

honest, sincere way about solving problems like AIDS,

even if they disagree with you on some things, it turns

out that people will respond.

I think one of the mistakes the Democratic party has

made in the past is we just assume sometimes that folks

aren't going to listen to us, so we don't go to rural

communities or we don't go to evangelical communities,

and my attitude is that if I show up and I'm listening

to people and telling them what I really think, I may

not get all their votes, but at least I will earn their

respect because they know that I want to be the

President of all the people of the United States, not

just the Democrats.

JAY LENO: And one thing that always amazes --



For example, like I have this flag pin.


JAY LENO: My brother was a veteran. I wear it. One

night I forgot to wear it. I got a nasty letter,

obviously, and then I noticed you were wearing it, and

then one day you weren't wearing it, and suddenly this

becomes an issue. This is a huge issue.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: This is the nature of

presidential politics. There's always something. The

truth is that, you know, I wore a pin right after 9/11.

When I took it off -- I lost it. I didn't replace it

even though I have terrific respect for those who wear

it, because I think a lot of politicians will put their

flag pin on and then act in a real unpatriotic manner.

You have Alberto Gonzalez wearing a flag pin the whole

time he was shredding the Constitution. What I want

people to do is to judge me by how I act and making sure

that I'm looking after veterans who are coming home and

giving them the resources that they need, that I'm

speaking out and defending the Constitution. If I'm

doing those things, hopefully that's how I will be

judged both as a candidate and as the president.

JAY LENO: There you go.


How is this campaign on your family? Didn't you take

some time off to go have a big 15th anniversary?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We had one night off.

JAY LENO: One night off.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: This was our 15th anniversary,

October 3rd, and Michelle and I went out to dinner, and

about 9:00 o'clock we got sleepy.


This is what happens when you've got two kids and you're

running for President. So of course we went home and

watched "The Tonight Show."


JAY LENO: Of course.


That's what I do on my anniversary. Your wife -- this

made we laugh because I'm sure that she just said this

as an offhand remark. Again, it gets picked off your

wife said you had some bad habits. I think leaving

socks around the house.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: She mentioned the sock leaving.

JAY LENO: How about underwear on a doorknob?

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: No. You know, do you do that,


JAY LENO: Occasionally I leave --

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I'll leave ties on the doorknob,

but not underwear.

JAY LENO: Not underwear.

JAY LENO: It's a health issue.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I'm going to try it out.


I hadn't thought of that. I admit that I am not always

great about hanging up my clothes. This is one of the

flaws that I have.

JAY LENO: And you want to be President?


SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I know. One thing I always tell

people, I am reminded every day of my life, if it's not

by events, then by my wife, that I am not a perfect man.


And I will not be a perfect president. But what I can

guarantee is I will always tell people what I think. I

will always tell them where I stand. I'll be honest

about the challenges we face, and most importantly I

want to open up the government back to the American

people, because that's what gives me confidence. The


American people are doing pretty well. When it comes to

issues, they understand what needs to get done. We just

need Washington to listen to them a little bit more

JAY LENO: I appreciate you coming by. I know you're

off to Iowa or some such place.


SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I'm actually off to Nevada, which

is also an early state. I'm going to be in Vegas. I

was mentioning to some folks backstage that when you're

running for President, then what happens in Vegas

doesn't stay in Vegas. I don't have much fun when I'm

in Vegas.

JAY LENO: Good luck to you, sir. Thank you very much.




flinch is the last word. please change it as 'xxx' and bill clinton make that quote into something unsavory.

Obama is often treated like a rock star?

Ah yes,the cult of selfhood; enough head-banging and the spokesman for Generation 'O' (read that 'zerO') could drape the sterile hybrid instead of a torpedo. Where is Kurt and Courtney when needed; if even from afar, show us the LOVE.

If warning Iran about nukes and a possible WW III is so "scary", why not just skip right to WW IV. Anyone for REAL 'global warming'. Show of hands; AlGore?

LENO: Do people even know what we're talking about?

"You know,folks in Iowa are really well informed." They know the difference between the Hammer & Sickle and an NRA logo. Burma? Passe'; they took those signs down years ago.

"Were choosing the next leader of the free world. It's not city council."

No, it's not city council, it's unlimited arch, slow-pitch SOFTBALL! We don't want to make it 'hard' on anyone, do we.

Anyway, I do appreciate a bit-o-whimsy with my evening gruel. Tonight, maybe? No, I'll be watching a REAL ball game.

"And I will not be a perfect president. But what I can guarantee is I will always tell people what I think. I will always tell them where I stand. I'll be honest about the challenges we face, and most importantly I want to open up the government back to the American people, because that's what gives me confidence. The American people are doing pretty well. When it comes to issues, they understand what needs to get done. We just need Washington to listen to them a little bit more."

Remember the Stage Manager in Our Town? He didn't talk about being president and the government, but he did share that faith in the American people. That's really been missing in Washington lately.

Very endearing.

I can't wait for the Inauguration of President Obama (has a sweet ring to it, already)!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 17, 2007 11:19 PM.

Sweet blog extra: Obama says voting for him involves "a little more risk." Video. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet Oct. 18 clips: Hastert to quit seat early. Obama FEC report incomplete. is the next entry in this blog.

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