February 3rd, 2009
08:16 PM ET

What keeps Barack Obama up at night? – and other questions I asked the President today

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/03/obama.daschle/art.obama.ac.cnn.jpg caption="President Barack Obama is interviewed by Anderson Cooper on Tuesday."]
Editor's Note: See Anderson's full interview with President Obama tonight on AC360° at 10PM ET.

Anderson Cooper

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.

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Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Barack Obama • Raw Politics
February 3rd, 2009
04:26 PM ET

Why Canada is more interesting than it looks

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/americas/01/15/canada.obama.tunes/art.canada.flag.gi.jpg]

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

President Obama's makes his first foreign trip today to Canada.

Americans, can you name the capital of Canada or its Prime Minister? Name three major news stories in Canada. Hockey doesn't count.

Okay, I'll help you out: automobiles, Afghanistan and energy.

Those are important issues in the United States, too, but we'll get back to that in a moment.

Canada is a lot like the United States; except when it's not, and Canadians are a lot like Americans, except when they're not.

For example, take the results of a poll of approximately 1,000 Canadians and 1,000 Americans taken in November by Angus Reid Strategies.

How Canadians see Americans

Patriotic 86%
Opinionated 64%
Materialistic 63%
Enterprising 35%
Courageous 17%

How Americans see Canadians

Polite 50%
Educated 46%
Happy 38%
Patriotic 37%
Thoughtful 33%

Thirty-three percent of Canadians say Americans would be most willing to rescue them if they were stranded on a remote island; 30 percent of Americans say likewise about Canadians if their situations were reversed (Americans and Canadians both thought the next most likely to come to their aid would be citizens of Great Britain or Australia).


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Filed under: 360° Radar • David Schechter • Raw Politics
February 3rd, 2009
03:02 PM ET

Gone since '59

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/03/fbi.cold.case.jpg]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

On its sad and growing list of missing persons, the F. B.I. has posted an unusual open case.

It’s not the circumstances that make it so strange. It’s when the victim vanished. The date? June 18. The year? 1959. Eisenhower was President. Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba. “Mack the Knife” was playing on the radio. And a boy named Daniel Barter vanished without a trace.

Daniel Barter was born in Mobile, Alabama on December 12, 1954. A little more than four years later, the toddler was with his family on a Gulf Coast camping trip along the border of Florida and Alabama.


Post by:
Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
February 3rd, 2009
01:21 PM ET

They're registered Democrats, but they didn't support Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/anti.obama.land2.jpg caption="Most people in King County, Texas are registered Democrats, but 93.2 percent voted for Sen. John McCain."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/29/anti.obama.land.jpg caption="A small church in King County, Texas."]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

King County, Texas is a place for quail hunting, ranching, and beautiful countryside. It’s the kind of place where the residents know everyone in town–a place where people here feel so safe that they leave their homes and car doors unlocked.

It’s also where John McCain received the highest voter support in the country. 93.2 percent of King County voted for the Arizona senator and only 8 voters cast a ballot for Barack Obama. What’s most interesting is most people here are registered democrats.

Now that President Obama has taken over the reigns, we wanted to come to King County to find out how these voters feel about our new President.


Post by:
Filed under: Ismael Estrada • President Barack Obama
February 3rd, 2009
11:36 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Tuesday’s tally – 8,300 jobs gone

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/29/economic.crisis.explainer/art.housing.market.afp.gi.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Thousands more workers got bad news today as companies in fields ranging from financial services to retail announced job cuts. All told, five companies said they would eliminate more than 8,300 positions.

-PNC Financial Services Group plans to cut 5,800 jobs, or nearly 10% of its workforce, following its acquisition of National City last year.

-Liz Claiborne is cutting 725 jobs, or 8% of its workforce, in response to what it called a "challenging retail and economic environment."

-King Pharmaceuticals will reduce its workforce by 22%, or 760 jobs.

-Rockwell Collins, a maker of aviation electronics, plans to eliminate 600 jobs

-Huntington Bank says it will eliminate approximately 500 positions, or approximately 4 percent of its workforce, throughout 6 states by March 1.


Post by:
Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Citigroup • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Housing Market • Oil • Wall St.
February 3rd, 2009
09:16 AM ET

Dear President Obama #15: Excuse me, Mr. President, did you drop your wallet?

Reporter's Note: President Obama says he’d like to hear from Americans with ideas about how to run the country. I’m American, and I have ideas sometimes. Two out of three is not bad.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/02/art.bb.gi.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

A strange question occurred to me the other day: Do you carry a wallet anymore? I can’t imagine why you would. You don’t need a driver’s license, because you don’t drive now. You certainly don’t need identification to get past security anywhere, because, well, heck the security is all for you. You don’t need money. I mean, even if you found yourself somehow magically at a diner with Joe Biden, unnoticed and unaccompanied by anyone else, do you really think he’s going to push the bill your way and say, “Let’s see, I had the patty melt, and you had the Philly, but you got the onion rings…”

Hillary Clinton might. She’s still got that campaign debt. But still…

Remember in the movie, The American President, how Michael Douglas can’t even buy flowers for Annette Bening because he doesn’t have a credit card any more and his whole staff wants to do it for him? That movie was made in 1995. Oklahoma City was bombed that year. OJ Simpson walked away from those murder charges. You were four years out of college, married only a few years, with no children, and had never run for a public office. Wow. Amazing to think of how the world changes, sometimes.

I’ve met plenty of people over the years who got into politics for the same reasons you did. They wanted to make a difference. They wanted to correct things they thought were wrong with our government. And I always ask them, “So, what has been your biggest surprise?” The answer is almost always the same. “I had no idea how hard it would be to get anything done.” (Although notably, the answer was once, “The vending machines.” I still have no idea what that guy meant.)

My only advice today is that you should remember this simple fact: Changing even little things in government can be a very long, complicated process.

Right now, you’re fighting for your latest Cabinet picks, trying to keep this stimulus package from blowing up like a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s, and hoping bipartisan is a word that actually means something in D.C. Now and then, however, dig out your old wallet from whatever drawer in the Lincoln bedroom you left it in. Open it up and remember what it was like when you weren’t sure you could fill it. Think about what it means to not have power, to not be President. Then be patient. If you think change is hard to come by, imagine how the rest of us feel.

Call when you can. I’m usually up late.



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

January 30th, 2009
09:30 PM ET

Talk to the hand...or my butler

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.money.bill.jpg]

Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

President Obama is fuming.  And who can blame him after learning that Wall Street executives gave themselves more than $18 billion in bonuses last year as the economy tanked and they begged for taxpayer bailouts.  Seriously, how many pedicures and pinky rings do they need?

I’ve decided that, if I worked on Wall Street, I could scrape by on a mere $1 billion. Granted, I wouldn’t be able to invest in as many Ponzi schemes as I’d like, but it’d be enough that my dog, Sammy, could enroll in that yoga class she’s been talking about.

It would be difficult to know where to begin, but I think my first indulgence after receiving my modest bonus would be to buy a new home.  I would put in a bid for an Upper East Side penthouse but, of course, would be rejected by the pretentious co-op board, jealous of my new friendships with Puff Daddy and Susan Lucci.

Disheartened with Manhattan, I would buy a mansion in Connecticut.  Where I would be closer to my Wall Street brethren and where my cadre of helper monkeys dressed like hotel bellmen would be free to roam the grounds.


Post by:
Filed under: 360° Radar • Jack Gray
January 29th, 2009
11:38 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Nearly 4.8 million on unemployment

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/28/girl.scout.cookies/art.cookies.girl.scouts.jpg caption="People buying Girl Scout cookies like these on their Web site this year can expect fewer cookies in the packages."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is at an all-time record high as layoffs spread throughout the economy. The Labor Department says the number of Americans continuing to claim unemployment insurance for the week ending Jan. 17 was a seasonally adjusted 4.78 million, the highest on records dating back to 1967.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits rose for the third consecutive week - by 3,000 to 588,000 - for the week ended Jan. 24.


Post by:
Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Wall St.
January 29th, 2009
10:25 AM ET

Dear President Obama #10: A bone to pick with you...

Editor's Note: President Obama says he wants normal citizens to give him ideas about how to run the government. As a result, I am writing a letter every day with my suggestions. Some of us take our civic responsibility seriously.

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/28/art.obama02.gi.jpg caption="Obama lifts a cold one during the campaign season."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I think you’ll agree that my letters thus far have been largely positive. I have tried to be encouraging, supportive, and optimistic about your ideas. But today I have a bone to pick with you.

Where are all those normal Americans you claimed such close kinship with during the election? It occurred to me as I saw you in yet another photo op surrounded by hot shot power players, that since inauguration day I have not seen you hoist a beer, sit down in a diner, or go bowling even once. (O.K, the bowling part, I understand, although the argument could be made for practice. Remember, there will be re-election to consider.) Still, it seems like back during the campaign you couldn’t make it four hours without basking in the wisdom of normal folks. Now, as the actual business is being conducted, they are nowhere to be seen.


January 29th, 2009
09:53 AM ET

When we're so cold that heroes die

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/weather/01/14/winter.storms/art.snow.michigan.irpt.jpg caption="Snow piled up in Eau Claire, Michigan, earlier this week. Record lows were posted across the state."]

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

Marvin E. Schur, a 93-year-old World War II veteran, was home alone in Michigan when he froze to death.

As he was laid to rest yesterday, a group of flag-carrying motorcycle riders made certain that Schur's service to his country was remembered.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, motorcyclists whose mission is to attend the funeral of every U.S. military veteran, flanked the entrance of the Bay City funeral home. They, like people across the country, were shocked by the circumstances of Schur's passing.

Schur died "a slow, painful death," the medical examiner said, as the temperature in his home fell below the freezing mark of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.


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