RALEIGH, N.C.–Transcript of Barack Obama press conference on May 2, 2008 in Indianapolis.
transcript from the Obama campaign…
Barack Obama Press Conference Q and A
May 2, 2008
*The majority of questions are paraphrased because it was difficult to hear the questions on recording.*
Q: You have obviously had a rough couple of weeksSenator Clinton moving up in polls. How are you feeling about Indiana?
BO: youre right weve had a rough couple of weeks, I wont deny that. Whats remarkable is that despite that, we are seeing terrific support all across Indiana and all across North Carolina. Ive been incredibly encouraged the past several days. People are interested in the issues that are affecting their lives. And thats what we have been talking about. And they are responding. So I have no doubt that these are going to be tight races. This campaign has been tight throughout, but I am very confidant that the American people are looking for the kind of truth telling and serious policy making that is going to have an impact on their lives and as long as Im talking about the issues that matter to them, I think we have a pretty good chance.
Q: You said recently that your opponents cannot win on issues, making the election about values. Are your values and your character not of interest?
BO: Oh no I absolutely think that they are. I was pointing out that those are the questions that have been raised of late. Theyve not been about who has the better energy policy. They have been is he sufficiently patriotic for example. Ive been describing what has been taking place in both the press and coming out of the mouths of my opponents. Thats why I ended that speech talking about my values and my character. I think that it is very relevant for to figure out is this somebody they can trust? Is this somebody who is going to fight for them? Is this somebody who cares about the same things they do? And what not only my words have shown, but actions have shown over the last 20 years is that my values and my ideals and my character are geared towards helping others. And particularly helping people who are struggling to live out their American dream the same why that my parents and my grandparents and I and Michelle have been able to live out ours. Thats what this campaign is about. So Im not shying away from that conversation. Im just pointing out whats been taking place in this campaign.
Q: You have tried to put Rev Wright behind youin Indianapolls show his whole thing shows Indiana votersif you lose race by a hair because of rev wrightwho will you be mad at?
BO: Well look, I’ll let the pollsters figure out who would have done what where and have them analyze the data. I dont think that what happened with Reverend Wright was helpful. I dont think there is any denying that. But what I am also struck by is how sensible the people of Indiana and the people of North Carolina and the rest of the country are. They were upset by very offensive language from my former pastor, they were legitimately upset by it but they are also upset by economic policies that are hurting them and so, this is something that they will have to factor into the mix, how this thing plays itself out, Icant tell. I am always mad when I lose. But I think that there are so many factors that go into these races that I cant, what I dont spend a lot of time doing is obsessing about what if and should have beens. We will see what happens on Tuesday then we will go on to the next contest.
Q: You have said in recent days you try to be positive, but sometimes get sucked into being negative. The closing days of Pennsylvania were very negative are you planning on doing that?
BO: I dont know what the result ultimately were or how our particular strategy impacted those results. What I can tell you is that I feel best about our campaign when we are making a positive argument. I feel best when I am talking about my ideas and my agenda for the country. Now we haven’t shied away from drawing sharp contrasts in Pennsylvania, we have made sharp contracts dating back to Iowa. But what we do think is that when we get into a tit for tat, look he said she said argument we lose focus from what this campaign should be about, how we are going to get people jobs and lower gas prices. What I want to do is move it forward, not just in this next 5 days, but for the duration of this campaign. I want to make sure that our closing argument is one that is consistent with what we said when we started this campaign, which is that we need to reduce special interest influence, getting our country together, telling the truth to the American people about our challenges and the more consistently my campaign and I deliver that message, the more confident I feel that we wont regret.
Q: [inaudible] do you regret that?
BO: As I said, you know, I dont spend a lot of time [unclear] and looking backwards.
Q: you talk about need to reshiftwhat are you most worried aboutwhat is your biggest weakness?
BO: You know, obviously we cant just fight [unclear] over the last week [unclear]. Thats just a fact and so what weve been trying to do is to make sure we refocus on what matters to people. You know, I think the American voters dont want a whole bunch of drama. What theyre looking for is-can you solve my problems? Or can you help me so that I can solve my own problems? And as a consequence of events, we werent able to spend a lot of time over the last week talking about that. Were talking about things that really dont speak to peoples day to day lives. Look, what I want to do is make sure that I am communicating my plans to address their day to day challenges. And also let them know that these are challenges that Michelle and I have been through ourselves. I mean, I do think that one of the ironies of the last two or three weeks was this idea that somehow Michelle and I are elitist, pointy-headed intellectual types when the fact is Michelle and I our lives, if you look back over the last two decades, more closely approximate the lives of the average voter than any other candidate. We struggled with paying student loans, we tried to figure out how to make sure that we got adequate daycare, I filled up my own gas tanks, and so part of what weve been we didnt recognize, I think, the caricature thats been painted of us over the past couple weeks and I want to make sure thats pushed aside.
Q: Question about why Oprah has not appeared recently on the campaign trail?
BO: Are you attributing that to me?
BO: No. I have not had time to read the whats his name?
BO: No, I havent had time to read him. I [unclear]. But Oprahs a dear friend. Shes got a lot of stuff going on. Weve got a lot of stuff going on. And as I made clear even at the beginning, her endorsement, other celebrity endorsements can be useful in getting people who arent otherwise paying attention to politics engaged and [unclear] important in a place like Iowa at the beginning of the campaign. I think everybody right now knows theres a big contest going on. And everybodys paying a lot of attention. And the presidential campaign is probably getting more attention than just about anything else. So the utility of having a celebrity come in is less now than it was before.
Q: Do you think the party who is behind in delegates serves the party well by getting out or staying in?
BO: I love how you guys come up with different ways to phrase the same question over and over again. Senator Clinton will have to make her own decisions if she is behind in the delegate count. Thats not what were spending a lot of time worrying about. What I want to do is make sure that I am finishing strong that Im talking to the American people about their hopes and their dreams, that they feel confident that the solutions Im offering and the kind of politics that Ive been promoting will make a difference in their lives. If we do that over the next month regardless of where the polls go, regardless of the outcomes of any particular contest, then I think Ill end up being the nominee. I really do believe that we control our own fate in this situation. If Im running the kind of campaign I want to run then I will prevail.
Q: You said if you win Indiana you will win the nomination. What happens if you dont win Indiana?
BO: This is a variation of the previous question.
Q: Have you heard from Reverend Wright? Why did you decide to go on Meet the Press?
BO: I have not spoken to Reverend Wright. We made the decision to go on Meet the Press long before this. Just like we made the decision to go on Chris Wallace last week. I think at this stage in the campaign particularly since going to Deans early question on values and character let me phrase it this way. When you are running for president you make certain assumptions that people after fifteen months know who you are. Then you realize that maybe there are a whole bunch of folks who dont know who you are despite the fact that youre on TV everyday. I think its really important for me to make sure that we are out there as much as possible and people get a chance to talk to me. I want to find as many venues as possible where people could lift the hood and kick the tires so they feel confident why Im in this race, who Im fighting for, what my plans are as President of the United States. These Sunday shows offer one opportunity among many to make sure that happens. It turns out that not everybody has read my books; its shocking.