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ABC "Good Morning America" Transcript

Interview

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ABC "Good Morning America" Transcript

MS. ROBERTS: As you said, in the audience last night, no less than 12 presidential hopefuls, 11 men, one woman, who want President Bush's job. And Senator Barack Obama is among them, and he is good enough to join us live now from Washington. Good morning, Senator.

SEN. OBAMA: Good morning, Robin.

MS. ROBERTS: So glad to have you with us, yeah.

SEN. OBAMA: Thank you.

MS. ROBERTS: I can't help but remember, last time that you joined us, last year after the president's State of the Union address and we asked you for the headline, and you said it was more of the same. So what's the headline from last night?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think what was interesting today was the lack of enthusiasm on the Republican side. Not just the Democratic side, but for the president's approach to Iraq. You saw in the chamber extraordinary skepticism. Skepticism that's reflected among the American people for this escalation of troop levels. And a continuation of a strategy that hasn't worked.

MS. ROBERTS: You talk about the escalation. You, among others, have called for a troop withdrawal. Though the president has said if that is happened, that will lead to a epic battle that could break out of Iraq and into the Middle East. I want to play a bit of what the president said last night about Iraq and get your reaction.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Chaos is the greatest ally, their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources. And an even greater determination to harm America.

MS. ROBERTS: Senator, did the president say anything last night about Iraq that makes you rethink your position?

SEN. OBAMA: You know, he really doesn't. We've had two weeks of hearings with leading experts, both military and civilian, here in Washington. And, it's amazing the almost near unanimity that for us to send more troops into what is effectively become a civil war is going to be counterproductive. And it's going to delay the time in which the parties in Iraq start coming together to accommodate each other politically. We can't impose a military solution on the problem at this point.

The military has an important role in providing logistical support and training. And to deal with terrorism, not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and around the world. And we have to deploy them intelligently. And unfortunately what we've got right now is throwing several thousand more American young men and women at a problem that is not going to be solved politically. We need to start de-escalating our presence there, so we can focus on the broader war on terrorism.

MS. ROBERTS: As you know, Iraq is such a concern with the American public. And, you're calling for a slight withdrawal of troops. And, I need to ask you this: are you concerned that your lack of experience when it comes to foreign policy may hurt your chances in the run for the White House?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, actually, my experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. I mean, I'm somebody who has actually lived overseas, somebody who has studied overseas. You know, I majored in international relations. But, you know, ultimately what foreign policy's about really is judgment. And having a sense, first and foremost of the strengths of America and the American people. And being able to talk with them about what our values and ideals are, and how we project them in the world. And then also having an understanding of what that world beyond our borders is like. And that's something I feel very confident about.

MS. ROBERTS: You were there last night. There were no less than 12 presidential hopefuls last night, including Hillary Clinton who was there; and, good friend of yours; and you're very kind in your remarks when she entered the race on Saturday. She has, in our latest ABC News poll, has a 24-point lead over you. She's already -- has $14 million in the bank for her campaign. She's fought two hard national campaigns already. Her husband, of course, Bill Clinton, is so well -- can raise so much money for Democrats.

Do you see this as an uphill battle in your --

SEN. OBAMA: You know, when your name is Barack Obama, you're always an underdog in political races. That's how it was when I ran for the United States Senate. I'm sure that'll be how it is this time. You know, obviously, the Clintons, collectively, have been on the national scene for a very long time. But, you know, should I go forward in this race, it's because I think I've got something unique to offer at a time when this country needs a new direction and some vital leadership. And I feel confident that the field is going to be strong. We're going to have a vigorous debate. And the American people will make a judgment in terms of who they think is best prepared to lead them in the future.

MS. ROBERTS: Well, you and Senator Clinton have certainly electrified the field. But there is something, Senator Obama, that you and Mrs. Clinton do have in common. I understand that you both will be cheering for the Chicago Bears in the upcoming Super Bowl.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, the -- I was at the game. I love New Orleans, and it was a wonderful story to see how the Saints gave that city pride exactly at a time when they needed it. But, you know, I'm a Chicago guy and I think we're going all the way this time.

MS. ROBERTS: (Chuckles.) All right. Senator Barack Obama, thank you so much. I'm looking forward to talking with you in the days and months ahead. Thank you for your time.

SEN. OBAMA: Great to talk to you again.

MS. ROBERTS: All right.

SEN. OBAMA: Thank you.

END.


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