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Public Statements

CBS "Early Show" Transcript

Interview

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CBS "Early Show" Transcript, with Senators-Elect Barack Obama (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

RENE SYLER: Last night eight new members were elected to the Senate; among them, Democrat Barack Obama from Illinois and Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson.

Gentlemen, good morning. Did you all get any sleep last night?

SEN.-ELECT ISAKSON: A little.

MS. SYLER: (Laughs.)

SEN.-ELECT OBAMA: Less than a little.

MS. SYLER: Less than a little. All right, let me start with you, Senator Obama. Overwhelmingly, you beat your opponent, Alan Keyes. This was a historic election, the first Senate race between two African-Americans. Then, of course, this summer, the white-hot spotlight was trained on you as you gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. That seems like a lot of pressure on you. A lot of folks are saying that you are the next great voice of the Democratic Party.

SEN.-ELECT OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me congratulate my future colleague, Senator Isakson. I look forward to meeting him and serving with him. I don't take some of that hype too seriously.

I think that, like most freshmen senators, my main job is to set up a constituent service office, to make sure that I learn the ropes in Washington, and to hopefully advance some legislation that's going to make a meaningful difference with my constituency. And if I do that effectively over the next several years, then I think I'll feel good about how I'm serving the people of Illinois.

MS. SYLER: Well, I think it was a nice gesture of you to say hello to your new colleague there. And so let me ask you this question, because this race, the presidential race, was so close and so divided in this country; a lot of hurt feelings this morning as we are still waking up and not officially having someone as president yet.

Do you think that everyone will be able to put all of that behind them and move together and bring this country together and work together?

SEN.-ELECT OBAMA: Well, you know, I think it's going to be important for whoever emerges as the president to set the right tone. I think that what's striking, as you look across this country, is that we are extraordinarily closely divided. It may result in the Republican control of the Senate and the House and even a Republican presidency, but it's basically a 51-49 situation.

I think that I would be giving the same advice if John Kerry ended up being president, and that is, we all need to be a little more humble and listen a little bit more, because it's going to be very hard to solve jobs, education, health-care issues if we're simply talking to ourselves and not people across the aisle.

MS. SYLER: Congressman Isakson, let me talk to you for a moment. You're taking over a seat vacated by Democrat Zell Miller. This is one of the seats that the Republicans will now have on their side. What issues do you plan to concentrate on during your term?

SEN.-ELECT ISAKSON: Well, first of all, I want to congratulate Senator Obama, who ran a great race in the state of Illinois, and I look forward to working with him. And the most important issue in our state and in our campaign was ultimately the security of the United States of America and the war on terror and to continue to prosecute that. So I think, as Americans, we need to all come together and support the president and continue to prosecute that war.

MS. SYLER: Would you agree with your new colleague that it is possible to come together, put all these hurt feelings sort of behind us?

SEN.-ELECT ISAKSON: Yes, ma'am. We need to lead by example. The best thing for some of us to do is check our ego at the door and go in the room and try and find out where we agree first rather than looking for where we disagree.

MS. SYLER: Well, we congratulate both of you. Senators-elect Barack Obama and Johnny Isakson, thanks so much.

SEN.-ELECT OBAMA: Thank you.

SEN.-ELECT ISAKSON: Thank you very much.

END


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