FOX News "FOX and Friends" Interview
MS. CARLSON: He's been rapidly closing the delegate count separating himself and Hillary Clinton. Will Super Tuesday formally make Barack Obama the front-runner among the Democratic hopefuls?
MR. KILMEADE: Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama rejoins us live from Boston.
Senator, welcome. Welcome back. The way you're surging right now -- is Super Tuesday coming too soon for you?
SEN. OBAMA: (Laughs.) Well, you know, we've got a lot of work to do to close the gap. Senator Clinton I think is a much more familiar figure to a lot of Americans. And so what we've been doing is talking about the things folks care about -- you know, kitchen table issues: "Are we going to be able to stay in our home? Can we get our wages to match the increased costs of health care or a gallon of milk or gas at the pump? And can we afford to send our kids to college?"
Those are the issues we've been talking about during the course of this campaign. People have increasingly responded. So I think we'll have a good night tonight. I don't think it's going to be decisive because of the way Democrats apportion delegates, but I think that our message is starting to break through and we're very optimistic about our prospects for winning the nomination.
MS. CARLSON: Senator, it's probably impossible to pinpoint exactly why you are surging, but some people are pointing to the fact that a couple debates ago it got really negative between you and Senator Clinton. And then the last debate, last week, it was sort of a love fest. The two of you were shaking each other's hands and being very cordial to each other. Did the voters like to see a more genteel Barack Obama?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think there's no doubt that there were a combination of factors over the last couple of weeks. You know, we did very well in South Carolina despite some of the atmospherics down there that aren't really my style. Then the debate in Los Angeles I think was more typical of how I like to approach things, talking about the issues so that I could highlight how I want to provide $4,000 tuition credits every year for students so they can go to college in exchange for national service, or how I want to provide health care to every American that is as good as the health care I have as a member of Congress.
You know, to the extent that we're talking about the things that matter to voters, and when people find out my 20-year track record of providing help to working families, that helps me. They get more familiar with me and we end up doing better.
MR. KILMEADE: Senator, what about when the bill comes due? When you talk about health care, when you talk about all the change to more environmentally conscious energy, who pays for that?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, we have tried to make sure that every single proposal we put forward, that we have a way of paying for it. So when I talk about, for example, providing a middle class tax cut to people making less than $75,000 a year, that is specifically paid for by closing tax provisions that help companies that are shipping jobs overseas or closing tax havens that are abused by many companies. So we try to make sure that we are maintaining the principle that you have to pay as you go.
And there's no doubt there are going to be some issues like energy where we're going to have to make some investments up front that might result, for example, in higher electricity prices. And we're going to have to use some of the money generated from charging polluters to offset those costs for working families who might not otherwise be able to afford those rising costs.
MR. KILMEADE: Right.
MS. CARLSON: Senator, some people are saying that you're chipping away at the women vote for Hillary Clinton and that that may be why you're surging in the polls. Do you believe that it's because you've had female endorsement figures who are bigger than life, like Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Maria Shriver coming out recently in California, or do you believe it's because the former President Clinton offended some women with his antics recently?
SEN. OBAMA: You know, I really think it has to do with issues. I mean, there's no doubt that having strong women around me -- primarily Michelle Obama -- makes a big difference. But I think that when people start to know my record, then they find out, hey, here's a guy who helped put together plans for early childhood education and childcare in Illinois. Or here's a guy who wants to expand paid family leave. That kind of issue can really touch on people, particularly working moms who are having to juggle both work and trying to keep their family together.
MR. KILMEADE: Right behind you is the word "change." When General Petraeus comes back in a month, if he talks to Barack Obama privately and shows you what we're doing over there, is there anything that would change your position about pulling out troops if he's convinced -- if he convinces you that we're on the right track?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, what I've been very clear about is that I will always listen to commanders on the ground. But ultimately the commander in chief sets the mission, and my strong belief is that we have to send a signal to the Iraqis that we are not going to be in Iraq permanently. I mean, I have a fundamental disagreement with John McCain on this. When John says that we might end up having troops there for a hundred years --
MR. KILMEADE: Yeah, but not fighting. He doesn't say fighting for a hundred years. He says there.
SEN. OBAMA: I understand, but we're spending $9 billion a month. This is not just a situation where we have infinite resources.
MS. CARLSON: Right.
MR. KILMEADE: Right.
SEN. OBAMA: This is a situation where the Bush administration has suggested $70 billion for the first quarter.
MR. KILMEADE: Senator --
SEN. OBAMA: That's a lot of stuff.
MS. CARLSON: Unfortunately we're up against a hard break.
SEN. OBAMA: I understand.
MS. CARLSON: So Senator Barack Obama, thanks for joining us today. Good luck today. We'll talk to you again soon.
SEN. OBAMA: Thank you so much. I appreciate it, guys.