Editor's Note: See Anderson's full interview with President Obama tonight on AC360° at 10PM ET.
The Oval Office is smaller than I thought it would be. Maybe it’s just because it was filled with lights and some of the furniture was moved around for the cameras, but it was more intimate than I had imagined. I’d heard President Obama likes to keep the Oval Office warm, but I was still surprised to feel the heat emanating from the open door. Katie Couric was just finishing her interview when I got there, “Wow, it really is hot in there,” I mentioned to David Axelrod who was standing nearby. “They’ve actually cooled it down a bit,” he said.
I’d met then-candidate Obama a couple times over the course of the campaign. I moderated the YouTube debate that he took part in, and I spent a day with him on the campaign trail, but this was my first time talking with him as President. I never interviewed President Bush. I’m not sure if it was my coverage of Hurricane Katrina or what, but the Bush White House never seemed to respond to our requests for interviews. Go figure.
Today, like all the other network anchors, we were told we only had ten minutes to interview President Obama, so I stayed up late last night and spent most of today whittling down a long list of questions. I also consulted with a number of our great political correspondents to see if they had questions they would want asked. I went into the interview with eighteen questions written down, but the truth is once the conversation started I found myself asking things I hadn’t planned on, and ignoring other questions I was sure I was going to ask. I think the best interviews are genuine conversations, and with the President I tried to just listen, and then respond based on things he brought up. Sometimes I watch interviews on tv and I feel like the questioner has a list of topics to cover and is simply checking them off as they go along.
In addition to asking him about Tom Daschle, and the economic stimulus plan, I also wanted to hear him talk about some subjects he hasn’t discussed lately. I asked him what if anything keeps him up at night, and was surprised by his candid response, a response he actually came back to later in the interview to talk more about. It’s rare for a President to ever say he made a mistake. President Obama not only said that today, he said, “I screwed up” when talking about the Daschle nomination. That surprised me. Though it was clearly a tough day for him politically, the President, in person, is remarkably poised. “Cool” is the term often used, and it does apply. The other words I found myself thinking about to describe him were, “calm,” “sharp,” “on point.” He was dressed neatly, and his nails trimmed. I still occasionally bite my nails, and long-term nail-biters like me tend to notice when someone else doesn’t.
When you interview the President someone stands in your line of sight and gives you hand cues counting down the minutes. It can be distracting. At times as you are listening to the President respond, you want to ask him to hurry it up so you can get in a few more questions, but thankfully I resisted the impulse. At the end I wanted to make sure to save a few minutes to ask him some lighter more personal questions. I called it a lightning round, and he was nice to play along. I asked him about the dog search, what he likes most about his new high tech car, and whether or not he’s had a cigarette since becoming President. I think you will be interested to hear his answer to those and many other questions tonite on 360 at 10pm.
I guess I am too wise to have politicians as heroes in my life....you can never be disappointed that way.......I say it all the time...think like taxpayer.
Mr. Anderson....I watched all the interviews......hoping I would hear something different ....after reading Pelosi's Pork Package....
I was hoping someone would ask ......Is this Pork Package apply to illegal aliens and is the E-Verify program going to be used to insure American Citizens and Legal Immigrants are the recipients?
I ask that because the S-Chip program which is suppose to be for children of working low income families....I just found out,,,,,,,,
it was just passed and it increased from the income to families making $88,000 and covers illegal aliens children up to that income also.' Who's paying for this????
I am an avid news fan; and I really appreciate you doing this interview. You letting President Barack Obama flow during this interview really shows the kind of journalist you are. You followed his lead and in return, that made the conversation very free and respectful. And even though the conversation was laid back, you got the answers the American people have been searching for and which they deserve.
I agree with you and I reiterate your request.
Anderson, you could also focus on issues of other countries. I'm foreign, I'm attending the blog a month ago, and I miss it.
Ah, Jimmy, I got the same problems as you.
Fight by television channel and my english, more or less (often, more for less ... laughing!). But I have some wins in the AC360; I'm having adepts in the home!
That was a good interview. Better than Katie Couric's. Lightening round was a good idea. Especially the last question.
Personally, I felt it was no need to apology; however, spring is just around the corner. It's time for spring house cleaning. If you know what I mean.
That was interesting. I enjoyed the interview. "Oh my, Anderson, you interviewed the President!" Good job! The interview was calm and relaxed. I watched it over and over and over and over. Oh yell, and over again.
@ jim turner,
im sorry you feel that way, anderson's interviewing techniques are relaxed and it makes everyone he interviews more humble, including himself. i thought his interview was natural.
I hope President Obama prays at nights because it seem like many people are wishing him failure. I thank the Lord for him. At least, he knows how to own up to his mistakes. First Lady Michelle was right but I wish him no more mistakes.
I would rather watch you interview The Real Housewives of New York City. President Obama is so yesterday He wants to limit bank execs to $500,000 -my hairdresser makes that much. I heard there is going to be a Real Housewives of Washington DC hopefully the Housewives From Atlanta don't relocate
I keep re-posting my comment...Just wanted to say Congratulations on you interview....too bad it was so short.
k, im probably going to regret asking this, but what is the infatuation with anderson's deodorant???? lol
he seems like the type who doesnt like BO at all so im sure whatever kind he wears will keep him smelling delicious.
Anderson, Excellent job as always. Winterize home. ok idea. what about improving very large buildings. The amount of energy to cool and heat large building is out of this world. The hydro-carbons from the refrigerants in the cooling system are terrible to the environment. If we want jobs now: Engineers and designers investigate building conditions; design systems that are energy efficient; construction teams make the changes; manfacturing equipment to be installed. win-win. healthly buildings, jobs, help the environment.... this list of improvements and benefits could go on and on.
The States will not have to cut State Funds for:
State Funded Labor
I have been a long time fan of yours and CNN in general, but your interview increased my admiration of you and President Obama exponentially. Your conversation with him seemed natural, and you asked the precise questions that I believe ordinary folks would inquire. The genuine honesty and sincerity President Obama displayed reinforced why I supported him so strongly as a candidate. Congratulations for another job well done.
It appears to me that everybody knows whats best for the american public but us , we are being bombarded by news reports that the stimulus package is not going to really stimulate the economy now , i think that since we are all feeling this crisis can somebody namely our new president step up to the plate and tell us what the hell is going on ,he spoke in plain english when he was campiagning and now its as though he has retrieved back to a politician. MR PRESIDENT do you know whats in the package , can , it create and save jobs now , can it save peoples homes now please can u tell us what is really going on because right now the media is scaring and confusing the hell out of those of us who voted for u ,and truly expected change , will u please send us some clarity so we can start letting our senators know stop playing politics and get on with the business at hand CHANGE! Whats up Mr. PRESIDENT LET US HEAR FROM YOU WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU BUT WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO PRAY FOR I BELIEVE YOU CAN DO THIS 1
Hi Mr. Anderson,
Thanks for the great interview, can't wait to watch this tonight. I'm very proud about our president, its only 2 week but he took decesion about many important issue. I'm thankful to him as he signed the kid's health insurance bill.
Could you please discuss about immgration issues in your 360. Its about keep the family together. Right now a green card applicant have to wait 4-5 years to become a citizen to apply for spouse. People who're married before green card application they don't have any problem. I wish our new president will change this rule and people who applied for green card and married after they'll able to apply for spouse and bring them here , don't have tow ait long to get citizenship .
Great job! I think that at this point the economy has taken all the attention of our new President of the United States. And at this point I am only thinking about health policy proposals to present at Capitol Hill.
My roommate is gay and also in love with you. So who is it going to be? the straight woman or the gay man? Gloria Vanderbilt is not getting younger! Need help to give her some grandchildren?
An Idea from a Stay at Home Mother of Three in Chino Hills, CA
The President declaring a State of Emergency for all States in the United States,
Expediting Federal Funds Directly to; State Governors, State Senates and State
The State Committee reports back to; The President, His Cabinet, Congress and the American Public.
Please, would you and all the rest leave Obama alone about the cigarettes? It's embarrassing to him and could lose him respect in some quarters. Would you ask your chubby commentators whether they had been able to resist that piece of cake in the break room–again and again?
I like you and your show but you sure beat a lot of dead horses.
It's funny what we notice about others isn't it? I'm still trying to get used to the transparency of this new President. It's refreshing and very sociologically healthy. After all the years of dysfunction at the hands of Bush it's hard to get used to the new way of doing things at the White House. The President talks to the American people with a reasonable degree of humility befitting a leader. How weird!
I was in an Oval Office copy at the Reagan Library once. I don't think it was true to size-I think it was 1/2 or 3/4 size or something like that. It's not a huge space but the rest of the house is great, or so I've heard!
Good evening Anderson,
Thanks for sharing your diary, interviewing president is quite interesting experience and I believe you take all the measures to be prepared, especially consulting senior politician people, great job.
If this is your first interview of president in office, I think it is an interesting experience and I am sure you are looking to the next one.
Have a good one.
This should have been a PR program for Obama.
No new quesstions asked?, no questions put to president on answers.
On "war on terror"
President answered as if it was his thoughts and ideas which it was not. This was not challenged. Poor ,Poor, interview not what the public want.
Anderson, Thank you for so quickly confronting the President on his extremely worrisome Cabinet choices. That he would consider those 3 or 4 with tax evasion records is galling. With the astronomical cost spent on his campaign and inauguration let's just hope the public hasn't been duped yet again.
If President Obama wants to do something bold then he should stop all Foreclosures. I do not know if our goverment know the stress they are putting on the people. People have to look for jobs, plus look for a place to live at the same time. While our goverment play games with our life.
I love how President Obama is willing to be interviewed for many different outlets and channels. It's a good way to develop the trust of Americans.
Keeping them Honest .... honestly(?)
"I’ve got to own up to my mistake, which is that ultimately it’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules. You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes." - President Obama quoted in the NY Times
Does this mean Geithner and Rangel don't get a pass?
Was Daschle's withdrawl just a diversion from the larger stain?
Since the mainstream media played a huge role in outcome of the elections; what objective part are you playing in making sure they are really keeping their words and walking with integrity?
It really looks like CNN is giving this government a huge pass. How will CNN prove that it is the "Most Trusted News Source"?
The intimate interview setting ... was interesting. It is strange to see a relaxed, cool, & confident President sitting in office. Have been so use to Bush & instantly turning the channel after awhile, it was a bit of encouragement to see you & the President toe to toe. Thanks for a good interview, as much as they can be in 10 min. & thanks for giving us some insights as well. Although I tend not to trust such news coverage, at least you kept it interesting.
Our president is with us as we face the next great depression and I believe in him and our country. Every American must make himself valuable in some unique way to our common good! Rome was depleted of it's great power by becoming a state of over eaters, drinkers, druggers, and generally lazy people. Let us not follow the path of Rome!
If Bush had done just half of what President Obama has done in his first 2 weeks in office, perhaps we would not be in the crisis we are in now! Where was the whistle blower in the past 8 years? I have seen him 4 times today on the news.
Dear AC, (copy of my comment to Cafferty)
Dear Mr. Cooper,
Does no one remember when Nixon put both a hiring freeze and a wage freeze on the working class? Well, I certainly do!
That happened at a time when both my husband and I were each due to get a raise. We had 4 school age children and we eagerly were waiting for our raises as it would have made a huge difference in our already modest incomes. Our raises amounted to no more than five and 10 cents per hour but as we were living very frugally, a raise meant everything. Now, why aren't the "concerned" Republicans making negative references to that "edict" from their own party?
Mr President could you please do something about the taxing of unemployment benefits. while the benefits are a blessing the taxation of already not enough money to keep up with the bills is tough . To help make end meet I have to stand in line at our local outreach center to help with food for the table. Still no money left over to save to pay the taxes on unemployment benefits .
I'm really upset with the media and some of the reporters who demonstrates on a daily basis the problem they face with having an African-American president. They continuously disrespect President Obama by when reporting always addressing him as mr. obama and notice the phrase is written in small letters because that's the indication it gives when they say it. Why is it so hard to give President Obama the respect he earned and deserves. The mess that the nation is in is not his fault he inherited that mess from someone else and we all should have common sense to know it won't go away in one hundred days nor three hundred sixty -five days. You guys need to lighten up. President Obama did'nt put himself in office clearly Caucasians as well as African-American's and many others are now on the same page their wallets are not as large as they once were. They can't spend the way they use to. We are now barring the same pain. The people chose President Obama obviously he was the best person for the job. So, I say to the Caucasian Republicans and the Afrrican-American Republicans give the man a break because we must remember it was the leadership of the Republicans that landed us in this awful "MESS" in the first place.
How about suggesting a game of hoops with President Obama – similar to your "race" with Michael Phelps in the pool. He's not a gold medalist so you may have a bit more luck.
Thanks for the "Lightening Round" of the interview. Made me laugh.
Congratulations on your interview with the president. I hope next time you will have enough time to ask about future plans to make college more affordable for all. Thank you.
Given the unnecessary programs that each Senator has stuffed into the 700+ page Stimulus package, it would seem obvious that these elected officials are just as oblivious to Main Street as the Corporate CEO's. Wouldn't it be more logical to pass one program at a time, like unemployment or health care benefits for the unemployed, to ensure that no "pork" squeeks thru? And please explain to me why President Obama and his "team", can't achieve this by scheduling a mandatory meeting with the Senators and Congressman, during which they all push up their sleeves and discuss one issue at a time, then vote on it. No lobbyists, no back-door meetings, just hard work dealing with one issue at a time. It seems pretty simple to me, but maybe my 15 years of experience owning and operating a manufacturing business hasn't given me enough experience yet on how to eliminate pork and operate within my means.
Anderson. Did you get a chance to talk with President Obama about your time In Kenya recovering from malaria?
Sorry so late – changes have happened.
I agree with you totally – a conversational interview is so much more sincere – it ends up being more truthful, and more enjoyable to watch.
I have to tell you though – I was not shocked at all that President Obama was so cool about the mistake he made. He's a good person with a good heart – he will obviously admit when he's messed up, and as an intelligent person would see it – he does not see if as a failure but progress – He admires Lincoln because he kept on learning – you have to fail to learn – it's how progress is made.
Thinking about him fixing the economy – I look forward to him in office -and know he will do great things for this country – I have to slow down -everything in good time – but honestly right now anyone being able to fix the ecomony is as hard sometimes as faith.
Recently there was an article in our local paper about his choice of dogs – Portuguese water dogs are so cute and loveable – I hope the family picks one.
I apologize for being such a cynic, but I will always believe these interview snippets are PR junkets the White House sets up when the president wants something from Congress and needs the American people to rally around him. The Bush administration did too good of a job with it before and during the Iraq conflict. It seems yesterday was a grand manipulation to make America feel good about this president and his economic stimulus package.
You did an awesome job regardless. You still rock. I'd love to see you in an anything goes real interview-no handlers, no prefab White House rhetoric answers, Obama having to be real, you getting to the honest answers as only you can. That is why the Bush administration probably never wanted you around. God forbid we get true answers about the Katrina debacle. Then again, those of us who worked with the survivors know the answers anyway. And none of it was pretty.
At any rate, I'm glad you had your first of probably many more invites into the Oval Office. That is until they have something to hide and don't want you getting at reality :)
I watched your interview with President Obama. I understand his plan. I know that democrats have a lot of ideas on how to help or save our economy, but some of their items they put in this bill I don't agree on. I'm worried that this is going to back fire in Obama's face. We need to focus on Americans getting work, so that they can pay their debt or bills, or as Washington would say shop. It doesn't matter how much extra money you give someone on their taxes, because they are going to pay bill or debt. I know I do. I'm a single mom. Any extra cash I get goes to my kids tummies, bills and or debt. I voted for President Obama, but at this point I'm worried he is going to give into the republicans.
Anderson, I loved your interview with the Prez. Thank you.
On a light note, I also liked your question about the dog search. One thing, though – do you know something we don't? You mentioned Portugese Water Dogs specifically, and he seemd to rule that choice in.
I ask because we have a PWD and absolutely LOVE her! It's our first dog as a family and, due to the kids' allergies, we had limited options. Am I glad we got a PWD. The kids have absolutely no allergic reaction to her. She is just the right size, loving, and protective of all three kids.
It would be neat to have the same dog as the Prez & his family. nI'd love to hear back from you. Do you have a dog?
Great job on the interview. I know you hear praise a lot but I truly hope you know how damn good you are as a newsperson. You are so great to watch and learn the news from. You have heart in your reporting. You of all the "A" Players of the newsworld I feel have a true pulse of the people, and I love that about you!!!
Anywho, great job on this interview!!! I can't wait to see more with you and President Obama.
The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.
$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget
I enjoyed watching the interview with President Obama. I don't recall this kind of attention or scrutiny being given to President George W. In fact, didn't George W. spend his first hundred days at the Ranch?
It is refreshing to hear someone so articulate, someone who considers all the issues. President Obama has an incredibly difficult job ahead of him. Unfortunately, many appear to be spending all their time looking for missteps, give the new President a break.
When President Obama signs the bill extending healthcare to more children, it will be a great step. I cannot believe Republicans would use scaremongering tactics to prevent something so essential and caring to occur. Whatever happened to compassionate conservatism? Every new plan offered, merely increases the administrative costs and jobs instead of increasing coverage, Extending an existing plan makes sense.
Keep up the good work Mr. President.
1st, it was a great interview, and now i've seen some of the competitors, it was really good stuff, he actually looked like he was talking to U...however, u should not be allowed to wear a blue shirt, to distracting with those dreamy eyes... stick to white so we can focus on what your saying! 2nd i'm kind of over all the kicking of the wall street people, now that Wells Fargo cancelled their plans for Vegas, how may reservations got cancelled, meals not eaten, tips not shared... the working people did not get PAID there ... getting to be McCarthism ... when everyone was making money it was ok, now its like evil to even have $$$ ... how is this going to help the economy! PEOPLE NEED JOBS! same as w/ the tax cuts... or the $5000 car stimulus, if u don't have a job, cutting taxes doesn't help... if you don't have a job $5000 towards a new car ... doesn't help!
Hi Anderson Cooper,
So many questions with so little time.The most I enjoyed was the part when you mentioning Abraham Lincoln and President Obama eloquently simulated his economic situation in comparison to Lincoln’s civil war, He and he seeks answers by constant learning.
Great job, Mr Cooper, nail-biter.
Good to see another president ignoring climate change and cranking up the heating.
Perhaps he thought he would make you sweat rather than the other way round.
Be interesting to see if in 6 months time his view if the job / issues etc changes.
The Government should create a savings bond that doubles in value in the course of 1-3 years. They can use part of the bail out funds to pay people when they cash them in. You will need stipulations on the amount you can purchase of course. Trust me this would make people spend.People feel more comfortable spending when they know money is guarenteed to come back their way.
Anderson, you are great to watch; i try to watch every nite. I enjoyed your interview with Barack; he is wonderful and i have been going thru
Barack withdraws now that he is the president because I don't get to hear what he is doing everyday. I do have a question; What is the bailout really going to do for me who only makes less than $50,000 and i have no medical insurance and i work for a small company. What exactly is it going to do for us, that has a job; PAYS TAXES, but i can't aford to do anything else. Why can't they give all of us $50,000 and it will work better than give out money to companies who give bonuses and new office furniture; give it to the people that will help the
Thanks Anderson, keep up the good work!
It seems to me that if as much as 90% of the stimulus package is widly areed upon by the senate then we should immediatly imploy that 90% and simply keep the other 10% in reserve to be used at the senate's discression. (I think it should be given to the indudustry that can demonstrait the largest job creation, let them compete for the money). It makes no sense to hold up this badly needed stimulus for this petty and small disagreement. sorry for the spelling
I think we live in a very sad world when u have a President that is really for the people and you have all these republicans that aren't. They showed us this when Bush was in office it's so amazing that any bill Bush wanted to pass they were for it whether right or wrong they just vote hands down. Now here is something that will help me and so many others like myself and now you want to debate about it. Come on Republicans what is really wrong with yall. Can yall do something good what you don't realize is American are looking at all of your reaction it's leaving a bad taste in our mouths
I saw it last night, you did a great job, it's ok that you did not interview President Bush and you should never apologize for standing for the american people, we are the one who watch.
I think even if you criticize him, he will grant you an interview. Always follow your conscience.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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