Obama June 17, 2008 press availability. Transcript.

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June 17, 2008 Obama press availability.

061708 (Verbatim Transcript) Plane Avail
**Many of the questions are inaudible. Information in brackets is rough.*

Q: Do you think the McCain campaign is coming after your comments on Guantanamo
Bay and the detainees?

BO: I did [inaudible]

Q: Well, it's pretty harsh stuff. National security (inaudible) is saying you
have to (inaudible)?

BO: Well, let's think about this. These are the same guys who helped to
engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned
down the people who actually committed 9/11. In part because of their failed
strategies we've got Bin Laden still sending out audio tapes and so I don't
think they have much standing to suggest that they've learned a lot of lessons
form 9/11. Let's talk specifically about my statement on Guantanamo. The
question is whether or not as the Supreme Court said people who are being held
have a chance to at least suggest that hey you've got the wrong guy or I should
be. It's not a question of whether or not they're free and the simple point that
I was making which I will continue to make throughout this campaign is that we
can abide by due process and abide by basic concepts of rule of law and still
crack down on terrorists. None of the folks that were speaking for McCain today
have given us one bit of information that would suggest as a consequence of the
court's ruling terrorists will be able to attack more effectively. They haven't
indicated one realistic scenario in which we would be less safe as a consequence
of us simply allowing these individuals to be heard one time to find out whether
they should be held accountable. And so this is the same kind of fear monger
that got us into Iraq and has caused us to be hugely distracted from the war we
do have to fight against terrorism and it's exactly that failed foreign policy
that I want to reverse. I would also point out that none of them seem to
indicate the degree to which our reputation around the world has been severely
damaged as a consequence of Guantanamo not just in Arab countries, not just in
Muslim countries, but among key allies like the Europeans and it was unnecessary
and it continues to be unnecessary. So I want to do everything we can to capture
terrorists and (inaudible) terrorists, kill them where that is the best approach
we could take but I see no need for us to create a situation which we undermine
our own ideals and our own institutions in way that actually strengthens to
ability of terrorists to recruit and engage in propaganda against the United

Q: (inaudible)

BO: I understand now, hold on a second. I just want to be clear about this. The
fact that you are a lying atheists does not necessitate that you are suddenly
putting terrorists in a full US trial court. That's not, those two things are
not equivalent.

Q: (inaudible)

BO: well I think that there are ways that we can, well first of all. We can
lock them up in military facilities on US soil in the same way that we locked
them up in Guantanamo. The reason we set up Guantanamo is because the
administration wanted to set up a black hole where there was no accountability
whatsoever. The Supreme Court has now said we can't do that. And as consequence
the whole purpose of Guantanamo is defeated and now were going, what we need to
be doing is locking these folks up and where there are dangerous individuals we
have to create a system of due process where we can show that the fact they were
dangerous. It does not have to be before a US district court, but if we provided
some (inaudible) of due process we can have confidence that we got the right
people. That we're not wasting time on the wrong people. We can send a message
to the world that we continue to abide by the standard rules of law. And we can
actually be more effective in our pursuit of terrorism.

Q: Senator, I've got a question about the economy. Certainly you're hearing
every day about the rise of oil prices. When economists talk about the factors
that contribute to that say that the dollars weakness is one of the factors
contributing to that. If you're elected President do you think you should have
a dollar policy and do you think the dollar should strengthen the economy.

BO: I do think we should have a dollar policy but the dollar tends to – is both
a problem by itself but also a symptom of underlying problems. And if we solve
some of these underlying problems the dollar will strengthen accidentally. That
starts with our housing situation. If we can stabilize our housing market,
using a home foreclosure prevention fund, legislation that's been proposed by
Barney Frank. If we can get that past stabilizing the housing market, putting a
floor beneath which housing will not sink so that the credit markets have a
little more confidence. And what I think you can expect is that credit will
flow more freely, the economy will start to rebound and the fed will have the
flexibility. They won't feel pressure to continually lower interest rates which
in turn weakens the dollar then creates a spiral which causes oil prices to
spike up and contribute to inflation. So getting the fundamentals right can go
a long way towards fixing the dollar. The other thing – more long term – is
having an energy policy where we're not sending millions of dollars in oil
revenue every month over seas, not borrowing as much from China and other
countries. If we can fix our current accounts deficit and our trade imbalances
that will also help strengthen the dollar. Right now the gulf and China have so
many dollars that they don't – that decreases the price of the dollar.

Q: Would it be --- if the dollar was strengthens?

BO: Well obviously, right now it's good for the exports that the dollar's
weak. I'm not somebody who thinks that we should spend a lot of time
manipulating our monetary policy, our fiscal party simply to strengthen the
dollar. I want to strengthen the economic policies of the country in such a way
that the dollar on its own accord is strengthened.

Q: Senator your thoughts on speculators and --- the spike in gas prices…

BO: I think that I would distinguish between having a commodities market in
oil, which a lot of people use to lock in a price and hedge it against future
increases. Which I think is legitament operation. And practices where
investors or buyers can artificially jack up the price of oil in order to secure
short term profits. I think that we've got to have amuch better job of
monitoring irregularities in these markets. I know there's legislation that's
currently pending to investigate and prevent some of these market
manipulations. So I would distinguish between the market itself, which --- and
abuses the department which may be taking place and I think are worthy of


BO: Well, I make a couple of points. Number one, this is a reversal by John
McCain in terms of his early position. I think we would set up an interesting
debate between John McCain in 2000 and John McCain in 2008. The biggest problem
with John McCain's position is that it seems like a classic Washington political
solution which is to go out there and make a statement without any clear
evidence that this would result in strengthening the US economy or providing
relief to consumers. There is no way that allowing off shore drilling would
lower gas prices right now at best you're looking at 5 years or more down the
road and even the most optimistic assumptions indicate that offshore drilling
might reduce the overall world price of oil by a few cents so this is not
something that's going to give consumers short term relief and it is not a long
term solution to our problems with fossil fuels generally and oil in particular
so if in fact as I believe we can save a lot more in terms of our addiction to
foreign oil by reducing consumption by developing plug in hybrids by developing
alternative fuels if those savings are far more than the amount of oil that
could be taken out of the continental (inaudible?) shelf or anwr then it doesn't
make sense for us to do it and unfortunately I think this is another example
where I think john McCain has taken the politically expedient way out- he had it
right the first time just as he had to right with the Bush tax cuts the first
time I think he finds himself pushing further and further to the right in ways
that in my mind don't show a lot of leadership .

Q: inaudible

BO- I remember my quote- I was there it was just yesterday

Q- inaudible

BO- jake that's not what they're driving at.. what they're trying to do is to
do what they've done in every election which is to use terrorism as a club to
make the American people afraid to win elections, that's what they're trying to
do. They are not serious about this, because they if they wanted to have a
serious conversation about it then they would know for example that the issue of
habeous corpus is not the designed to free prisoners what its designed to do is
make sure that prisoners are who are being held have at least on shot at saying
I'm being held wrongly my quote the point I was making that I've made before is
that without giving full blown rights to those who are being held we can set up
a system of due process and when I said that the administration didn't even try
to do that what I uh had consistently said is that rather than figure out how do
we effectively hold these folks detain them, revive them with some (inaudible)
of due process, try them lock them up the administration decided to take a bunch
of short cuts what it essentially wanted to do was to be completely insulated
from any checks or balances and my position on this and a whole host of other
issues related to battling terrorism has always been clear and that is that we
don't have to treat these folks as US citizens we don't have to treat them the
same way that we would treat a criminal suspect in the United States but we
should abide by the Geneva conventions we should at least follow through on the
same principles that we followed through with when we were dealing with Nazis
during (inaudible) that is not only the right thing to do but it also will
actually strengthen our ability over the long term to fight terrorism.

Q: inaudible

BO: Well its 2008 and I think that the American people are clear that the war
in Iraq did not work, has not made a statement but, cost us [inaudible] huge
amounts of [inaudible] I think that the American people are clear that, we have
neglected our domestic agenda and ultimately national security has to be tied up
with economic security of the American people, and better to [inaudible]
economy, and this administration has been a disaster on this front. And, I think
what else is different is I am looking forward to having a robust argument about
these situations, I don’t shy away from, I think that the way these issues have
been framed, have done a great disservice to America, I think that [inaudible]
now that’s not to say that we shouldn’t be able to craft a strong bi partisan
consensus on these issues, if we need to politicize these issues, then I think
we need to come up with a strategies that ensure that we are tracking terrorists
that we are listening into there communications, that we are holding up there
financial institutions, that we are hunting them down, that we are in capacity
them, but, in order for us to do that effectively in a way that brings the
country together, we’ve got to stop trying to play political games with it, and
that’s what we have been doing for the past eight years, and that’s part of why
the country feels so divided around issues when we shouldn’t be divided.

Q: Senator when you meet with the members of the AFL the CIA, tomorrow, how
will you be saying that to reassure them, concerned express last week

BO: I will be saying that Jason Furman is an outstanding young economists, he
has experience working on presidential campaigns and reacting rapidly to the
demands of a campaign, that, his job is to be an honest broker, reflecting a
wide range of economic views, because that is how I make decisions, and I want
to hear arguments from all sides, and then, exercise my own judgment in terms of
what I think is effective, he is not whispering in my ear, and he is not shaping
my core beliefs around what is needed in the American economy, he is one of my
[inaudible] economists, and so, I will suggest to them that, looking at one
staff person and getting nervous about it, probably doesn’t make sense.

Q: [inaudible]

BO: Well, well, I mean you guys are the pundits, you guys do the political
analysis, I would just like to make a couple of points based on what I have
heard over the last few days, there’s been suggestions that, well he’s loosing
among white men, well, it turns out that I’m doing better among white men than
John Kerry did in the last election, or and I would note that, its been a while
since, democrats won white men overall, so, this is not some problem that’s
unique to me, people have suggested that he’s got Latino problems, except right
now I’ve got a 35 point lead among Latinos, people have suggested well, he is
going to have to figure out how to attract women, despite the fact that I have a
healthy lead among women, including white women, certainly in white working
class women, so, you know rather than try to, what I said, slice and dice all
these demographic groups, what I have tried to do is present an agenda that will
be good for all Americans, black, white, male, female, Hispanic, non Hispanic,
and I think that will work. You know, we have never run our campaign based on
let's try to fasten on to a particular demographic group because I don't think
that's how the American people think.

Q: [inaudible]

BO: You know I think the strategic oil reserve at this—you know sometimes I'm
asked about agreements with the Bush administration. They're rare. But I do
agree that—we have to think about the strategic oil reserve as an insurance
policy for a huge disruption, one in which the economy is potentially crippled.
We're not at that stage obviously. It's painful and that's why I've been so
adamant about the need for a middle class tax cut to provide families some
immediate relief to rising oil prices and I have supported not filling the
strategic reserve suspending new oil going into the reserve. We can pay that
back later when prices have potentially gone down. But I don't think that we
want to start messing with a strategic reserve that we might need, for example,
if heaven forbid there was an attack on major oil fields in Saudi Arabia that
supply [large countries] for sustained periods of time.

Q: [first part of the question is inaudible, but the second part of the
question has to do with the hiring process of the campaign]

BO: Well, you know I think spattering of moves yesterday with senator Grandell
talked about Senator Clinton and when I got up there I shut that down and made
very clear that Senator Clinton deserves respect. She ran a great race and we
are moving forward because we want to win in November. You know i think that
people were still in primary mindset and we're moving into general election
mindset and that's happening. I think overall that's happening. A month from now
we're not going to be talking about that. Patty Soleis Doyle is a terrific
experienced campaign hand. She's from Chicago. Her brother and I organized on
the south east side of Chicago when I first moved to Chicago as a community
organizer so I've known the family for a very long time. I think that she will
bring not only a set of skills that we're going to need as we put our ticket
together, but she's going to be a terrific advisor and offer insider judgment
that will help us win in November.

Q: [are you going to meet with Senator Clinton this week in Washington?]

BO: I think she's going on vacation, or she deserves to [inaudible]

Q: [question deals with the flooding in the Midwest]

BO: Yes I actually had a conversation with Governor Culver right after our
college education event and, you know I think it's important for us to
understand the size and the magnitude of this disaster. It was a slow rolling
disaster. It didn't have the drama of a major hurricane but—and thank goodness
that we didn't see significant causalities. But it terms of the economic losses
in that state and the prospects of rebuilding, it is mind boggling. You've got
the second largest city in Iowa that's going to be under water for at least
another four or five days. You have three million [bakers] and corn that are
effectively destroyed. Losses are going to be in the tens of millions of dollars
potentially. And if we're not done, part of the reason that I won the contact
Governor Culver is that we're going to be seeing problems spill over as the
Mississippi rises. It's about to crest. I was in Quincy, I think you joined me,
this weekend to fill some sandbags and put together an assessment of what's
going on there Burlington along the Mississippi and some of the river towns in
Missouri are all going to be impacted by this and so I just wanted to assure
Governor Culver that we're going to do everything we can to get aid there
rapidly. I'm glad to hear that the president is going to be going there on
Thursday but you know we're going to have to make sure --

[audio end]

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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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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 17, 2008 10:16 PM.

Obama June 10, 2008 availability. Transcript was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod lunched with Senate Democrats in Washington Tuesday. is the next entry in this blog.

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