CBS "Early Show" - Transcript
MR. SMITH: Two and a half weeks till the Iowa caucuses, and Barack Obama begins another five-stop day. Up in the northwest part of the state, the politics are conservative. But for a candidate locked in a tight race, every potential voter needs to be reached.
We caught up with Obama in Spencer, Iowa and jumped on the bus.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
SEN. OBAMA: Hey, Harry.
MR. SMITH: Don't they supply you with overcoats?
Endless miles of snow-covered prairie roll by, just like yesterday and not too different from tomorrow.
(To Senator Obama.) Do you know what day it is?
SEN. OBAMA: No.
MR. SMITH: Poll numbers have his spirits up, even after losing the coveted Des Moines Register endorsement, an endorsement some say damned Clinton with faint praise.
SEN. OBAMA: It was about as good of a non-endorsement as you could get, right?
MR. SMITH: Did you see or read the transcripts from Charlie Rose on Friday night when Bill Clinton was --
SEN. OBAMA: No, I just heard about it.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Even when I was a governor and young and thought I was the best politician in the Democratic Party, I didn't run.
SEN. OBAMA: I didn't see the transcript. I didn't hear it. Here's what I know, though, just based on what I'm hearing second- hand. The irony is that many of the arguments that he's making now are the same arguments that George H.W. Bush was making against him.
MR. SMITH: In the final sprint to the Iowa caucuses, Obama harbors no illusions. Politics is a full-contact sport. Just days after one Clinton surrogate brought up Obama's past drug use, another, ex-Senator Bob Kerrey, was quoted playing up Obama's Muslim lineage, even though Obama is a Christian.
SEN. OBAMA: Bob likes to talk. I think it was just, you know, thinking off the top of his head about, you know, how he viewed me and this race.
MR. SMITH: Do you get a sense that there are some in your party who are trying to say, "It's not your turn"?
SEN. OBAMA: Oh, I don't just get a sense. I think there's an entire campaign.
MR. SMITH: Obama is positioning himself as a candidate for change, particularly on the war.
(To Senator Obama.) Were you a fan of the surge?
SEN. OBAMA: No. And it's fascinating to me how the surge is now being defined as a success. The central question remains, how do we get a change in behavior among Sunni, Shi'a and Kurd? The only way, I believe, to trigger that change is to send a clear signal that we are withdrawing. We're not going to have permanent bases there. We will be a partner with them to help stabilize the country, but they've got to make some decisions.
MR. SMITH: And it seems now that Afghanistan --
SEN. OBAMA: Is deteriorating rapidly, which is one of the reasons I objected to this war in Iraq in the first place.
MR. SMITH: It feels surreal talking global affairs on a custom charter bus rolling through Iowa farm country. But to get to Pennsylvania Avenue, this is the road Obama must take.
SEN. OBAMA: Not only do I want to win an election, but I want to govern.
MR. SMITH: And for that, there is a price.
(To Senator Obama.) Do you feel guilty now, doing what you're doing, being away from your family so much?
SEN. OBAMA: Sometimes, yeah. I mean, my daughter had a dance recital on Saturday. That was the first dance recital I have missed, my younger one. It's the first time I've missed it since she was born. And it was upsetting. You know, Michelle and I talked about this very carefully before we went in. This was the first question I asked was could our family survive the rigors of this process. Because she's so remarkable and my kids are so above average, they have thrived. And they seem to be doing really well.