Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet Thursday Obama clips: Obama tells MSNBC's Scarborough consulted with Howard Dean to avoid Dean mistakes. Roger Simon on Obama Iowa drive. UPDATE Tells Iowa station why he has stopped wearing flag lapel

| No Comments

WASHINGTON--UPDATE
This Associated Press story from Iowa is about a small detail that could become a larger matter for Obama's Iowa team..."Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has stopped wearing the American flag lapel pin that has become a common symbol of patriotism since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks." (click below for full AP story_

MORNING LEDE When Howard Dean ran for president in 2004, he built a movement--but could not translate it into votes. His loss in Iowa was the beginning of the end of his campaign.

White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) stalled in the polls--especially in the primary states--wants to avoid Dean's mistakes. Obama tells MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on Thursday morning he talked to Dean last week. Dean is now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

"I think Howard built an extraordinary movement. But I think what you need to do is be able to translate a movement into an organization," Obama said.

And exactly on this point....Politico's Roger Simon touts Obama's Iowa organizing efforts. LINK


for transcript and other Thursday clip links, click below..

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has stopped wearing the American flag lapel pin that has become a common symbol of patriotism since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Asked about the decision Wednesday in an interview with KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Illinois senator said he hoped to show his patriotism by explaining his ideas to citizens.

‘‘I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest,’’ he said in the interview. ‘‘Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism.’’

The television interview didn’t include an explanation for his decision or when he stopped wearing such a pin.

Campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday that Obama didn’t plan to say more about his decision.
‘‘I think he explained it pretty well,’’ Vietor said.
Obama was campaigning in Iowa Thursday, the second day of a four-day trip to the early voting state
AP-CS-10-04-07 1406EDT

George Will on U. of Chicago Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee LINK

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/03/AR2007100302003.html

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SEN. BARACK OBAMA TELLS JOE SCARBOROUGH THAT HARSH INTERROGATION TACTICS ARE “WRONG-HEADED” AND “IMMORAL”


SECAUCUS, N.J. – October 4, 2007 – Earlier Today on "Morning Joe," Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told Joe Scarborough that "this administration basically viewed any tactic as acceptable, as long as it could spin it and keep it out of the public eye," in response to the "New York Times" article alleging that the Justice Department secretly endorsed harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA, while publicly condemning torture. Sen. Obama also discussed his Presidential campaign and the war in Iraq.

Below is a transcript of the interview that aired this morning on "Morning Joe." "Morning Joe" telecasts weekdays from 6 – 9 a.m. (ET). Chris Licht is executive producer.

* * *

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Senator Obama, how you doing today?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-ILL.): I'm doing great, Joe. How are you?

SCARBOROUGH: I'm doing well.

I hate to ask you the tough question right off the top, but it has to be asked. What the hell is wrong with the Chicago Bears?

OBAMA: We've got a quarterback problem.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH: You do have it. You've got a Rex Grossman problem.

OBAMA: Don't you play quarterback? We're looking for one.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Well, Rex Grossman ain't it, is he?

OBAMA: Rex isn't it. And, you know, Griese is not proving to be the savior.

SCARBOROUGH: No.

OBAMA: So, in fairness to them, you know, I think our offensive line isn't too great either, so we haven't given them much protection. But, you know, we're looking for our Tom Brady.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, fortunately, it's a very long season. It's also a very long campaign season. What has this been like for you, where we're still three, four months away from the polls, and some people are already saying, oh, Hillary Clinton has gotten this thing won? And yet you're building a pretty incredible organizational base, not only in Iowa, but across the country.

OBAMA: Well, you know, I was talking to president -- former President Howard Dean about this last week.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH: Exactly.

OBAMA: You know, look, you guys have to report something, and the national polls give something to report. But, you know, we have been extraordinarily happy with the kind of organization on the ground that we've built. We have got the money to go all the way through. I think that if you look in Iowa and the early states where I'm spending time and where we're going up on the air, it's a very competitive race.

So what I have to do is just make sure that I'm delivering the message that we think the American people are ready for, that we want fundamental change, not just tinkering around the edges. I think the country wants to be brought together; they want to get past the petty partisan bickering. I think they want a politics that gets beyond sort of the special interest-driven politics that we've become accustomed to.

And I think our foreign policy, what's interesting is degree to which, you know, even in small farm towns in Iowa, people really want to see America's standing in the world restored, and they understand that we've got a lot of work to do to repair the damage that's been done as a consequence of the Iraq War.

SCARBOROUGH: And, senator, it seems like you've learned a lot from Howard Dean, who had a lot of excitement, but didn't build a base. You're using the excitement to build your grassroots structure, aren't you?

OBAMA: Well, I think, you know, the one thing that we did learn, I think Howard built an extraordinary movement. But I think what you need to do is be able to translate a movement into an organization. And one of the things that we have been able to do is to translate that movement into on the ground, nuts and bolts, you know, knocking on doors, making phone calls, counting caucus votes. You know, so a lot of the mechanics, I think, of just getting the vote out, particularly in Iowa where a caucus state is a complicated affair, I think we're going to do very well.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Senator, I want to ask you about what's making headlines this morning. What do you make of this "New York Times" article that the Justice Department apparently secretly endorsed some of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA, while publicly denouncing torture?

OBAMA: Well, I think that this is an example of what we've lost over the last six years and what we have to recapture. You know, all of us believe we've to track down and capture or kill terrorists who threaten America, but we have to understand that torture is not going to either provide us with information, and it's also going to create more enemies. And so as a strategy for creating a safer and secure America, I think it is long wrong-headed, as well as immoral.

So I wish that was surprised. I don't think I'm that surprised. I think this administration basically viewed any tactic as acceptable, as long as it could spin it and keep it out of the public eye.

And I think that we've got to do a thorough investigation on this. And we have to have a clear policy, one that I think Republicans and Democrats can embrace. You know, John McCain and I disagree on a lot of things, but the one thing we agree on is that we cannot have a -- we cannot tolerate a policy of torture in this country.

BRZEZINSKI: So then looking ahead to dealing with Iraq and Iran, how will you define yourself from the other candidates running for president, beyond the fact that you were against the war?

OBAMA: Well, I think it's more than just being against the war. I think that there have been some significant differences that have emerged. I believe that strong presidents and strong countries have to talk to their enemies, not just their friends. And I know that that is considered a controversial position in Washington today. It wasn't considered controversial when JFK met with Khrushchev, or when Nixon met with Mao. I think we've become a fearful society, where, you know, somehow dealing with petty tyrants in Iran or North Korea scares us, instead of us understanding that we can win those battles for the hearts and minds of people around the world when we engage. So I think that's a serious difference, and I think that's going to be something that I carry out.

We probably have some differences among the candidates, in terms of how aggressively we would push the issue of nonproliferation. I think the single most important thing we can do for our national security is not only lock down nuclear weapons in Iran -- and I see that we're making potentially some progress in North Korea -- but to also lock down loose nukes that we should have been done within four years, and we have not done, because this administration has generally not wanted to constrain itself when it came to nuclear weapons. I'd like to see us meet with the Russians in serious talks about reducing our stockpile. So I think there are real differences there that'll emerge in the next few months.

BRZEZINSKI: I want to ask you a little bit about the campaign. I'm looking at the front page of "The Washington Post," which I guess a new "Washington Post" poll is showing Bill Clinton to be quite an asset to Hillary Clinton's campaign. I want to ask you a very direct question. What do you think the implications are of another Clinton presidency?

OBAMA: Well, look, I think the Democrats in this country have great fondness for Bill Clinton, and I think they have admiration for Hillary Clinton, and I think some of that is earned. You know, Bill Clinton presided over economic prosperity. And I think that people are understandably protective of his legacy, in part because of the overreach of the Republicans.

I do think that the Clinton/Bush era, when you take it together, has been a perpetuation of some of the battles that we fought in the '60s. Whether it's Vietnam or the sexual revolution or civil rights, you know, we have been caught up in the same old arguments for decades now. And one of the strong beliefs I have about this campaign is that the country wants to get beyond some of those conventional, partisan battles and cultural wars, and start solving problems. Because issues like health care or energy or global warming or -- all these issues are too big to keep on trying to solve through the tinkering and petty politics that characterized the '90s.

SCARBOROUGH: You know -- and you're exactly right. We've been -- it seems like we've been over the '60s since 1968.

OBAMA: Right.

Well, the interesting thing, though, Joe, is I think the American people are beyond it.

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

OBAMA: You know, you talk to the average person, and, you know, if you talk to a Republican who may be conservative when it comes to fiscal policy, but they've got a gay daughter and -- you know, who they love completely and are completely untroubled by, or, you know, you'll meet a Democrat who may be liberal, but understands that, you know, there's an awful lot of sex on TV and they're trying to raise their kids (inaudible).

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

OBAMA: And, you know, that kind of complexity in people's lives is never reflected in our politics.

And so we get distracted, and in the meantime, our kids are doing bad in math and science and are slipping behind Chinese and Indian kids who aren't fighting cultural wars, they're hitting the books.

So that's the kind of shift in our attitudes that I think we've got to have.

SCARBOROUGH: Hey, finally, I want to ask you -- we've been showing pictures of you with your wife and children. By the way, I think every candidate needs a wife like your wife...

(LAUGHTER)

... a tough wife, that keeps the husband in line or vice versa.

OBAMA: Oh, boy, she's something.

SCARBOROUGH: She is. She really seems like an incredible woman.

But what is it like -- we are not used to seeing presidential candidates who actually have a shot at the White House not only running for president, but also having a wife and young children that they go home to.

How much pressure has this campaign added to your personal life as far as being a father, being a husband and being the guy that's carrying the hopes of millions of people?

OBAMA: Well, you know, it's a timely question because yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary.

SCARBOROUGH: Wow. Congratulations.

BRZEZINSKI: That's nice.

OBAMA: And after a full day of campaigning, I got back to Chicago and read "Harry Potter" to my daughter and then took my wife out to dinner.

And the only way -- the only way I'm pulling it off is because Michelle is extraordinary. My kids, like Garrison Keillor says, are all above average.

(LAUGHTER)

And, you know -- so Michelle's really keeping the home base covered.

But it's hardest on me, because I miss them terribly. And, you know, you're starting to see the girls grow up so quickly that there are things I'm missing. And there are moments that, you know, I question whether I shouldn't be there more.

But, as Michelle reminds me, we've got a hundred days before Iowa. We can worry about this once we're in the White House.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes. You know, it's so interesting, when I was in Congress, I always felt badly about being away from my kids. I felt guilty for not being there. And it finally hit me after about seven or eight years that I was the one -- that I was the one losing, because I was...

OBAMA: Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH: Missing so much. It's a horrible...

OBAMA: (inaudible) It's -- they're doing just fine. They're having fun.

(LAUGHTER)

And it's hard on me.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes.

BRZEZINSKI: These experiences are always mixed blessings for the children.

Senator, let me just ask -- let's look ahead to Iowa here. You've got Hillary Clinton beating you in fund-raising at this point, and in the national polls. What do you intend to do about this?

OBAMA: Well, not to be too picky, but we've out-raised Hillary Clinton by $12 million during the course of this year. So, you know, I just wanted to put that in perspective.

There's no doubt that in the national polls she's doing well because she's the default candidate. As I said, Democrats have fond memories of the Clintons. They like me, but don't know me as well. And so our task is to get known and to promote our ideas and my vision of the country.

So that's why we're focusing on the early states, Iowa and North Carolina -- South Carolina and Nevada. And I'm confident, as has been true in the last several election cycles, that if we do well there, we will ride that to the nomination. But it's going to require hard work.

And, by the way, in Iowa, John Edwards is very competitive. And in -- you know, you never know whether somebody like a Governor Richardson catches fire. So, you know, I think it's premature for me not only to concede any state, but it's also premature to count out people like John Edwards or Bill Richardson in some of these early states.

BRZEZINSKI: Speaking of competitive, your wife says you have to win Iowa. So, Senator, if and -- if you do and if she's right, will you call us back the day after?

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I'll tell you what, this has been a wonderful conversation. I look forward to talking to you guys again. Maybe I can get on there live sometime.

BRZEZINSKI: That would be great. I'd like to come out to Iowa too, so hopefully we'll see you there.

OBAMA: Well, that would be fun. If you want to -- if you want to travel and hit Dodge City...

(LAUGHTER)

... and Shenandoah and some other places with me, I'm happy to do it.

SCARBOROUGH: Senator, thank you for being with us. And you're exactly right: You have raised an extraordinary amount of money. This is a historic campaign. And good luck as you move forward.

OBAMA: I appreciate it, guys.

SCARBOROUGH: Thanks.


Built on the worldwide resources of NBC News, MSNBC defines news for the next generation with world-class reporting and a full schedule of live news coverage, political analysis and award-winning documentary programming -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. MSNBC's home on the Internet is msnbc.com. Msnbc.com delivers a fuller spectrum of news. Drawing on its award-winning original journalism, NBC News heritage, trusted sources and Microsoft's advanced technologies, the site presents compelling, diverse and visually-engaging stories on the consumer's platform of choice. Nielsen/NetRatings reports more than 29 million unique visitors for August 2007, making msnbc.com the number one TV news site, ahead of ABC, CBS, and Fox News combined.

Members of the media can get more information about MSNBC and its programming on msnbc.com or the NBC Universal Media Village Web site at www.nbcumv.com.

# # #

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

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

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 4, 2007 9:35 AM.

Sweet's Thursday Obamaville. Obama in Iowa was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet blog special: Obama, reacting to NYT report Bush torture techniques, says "betrayal of our core values." is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.