Obama tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer McCain is “losing his bearings”

SHARE Obama tells CNN’s Wolf Blitzer McCain is “losing his bearings”

CHICAGO–Today is Israel’s 60th anniversary and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked near presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) about a suggestion from Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) that Obama is “favored by Hamas.”

“That is offensive,” said Obama, “and I think it’s disappointing because John McCain always says, well, I’m not going to run that kind of politics…..As so for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.”

Click below for transcript of Blitzer interview with Obama on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

Sen. Barack Obama: Sen. McCain’s criticism demonstrates he’s “losing his bearings as he pursues this nominatio

I think actually Justice Breyer, Justice Ginsburg are very sensible judgesJustice Souter, who was a Republican appointee is a sensible judge.Sen. Obama on his model for a possible Supreme Court Justice nominee

Sen. Barack Obama sat down with Wolf Blitzer today for his first interview since the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. Pieces of the interview are currently running on CNN, and the full Q&A will air on The Situation Room. Highlighted excerpts are below, and a full transcript follows. For additional coverage and video, see http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/08/obama/index.html and http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/05/08/obama-mccain-is-losing-his-bearings and the CNN Political Ticker.

Please credit all usage to CNNs The Situation Room

Highlighted Excerpts

On the TIME magazine cover declaring him the winner

OBAMA: I dont want to be jinxed. Weve still got some work to do I dont want to get ahead of myself, here. Senator Clinton is a very formidable candidate. She is very heavily favored to win West Virginia. Shell win that by a big margin. Shes favored in Kentucky. Well probably split the remaining contests so shes going to be actively campaigning.

On his reaction to Mitt Romneys recent strong criticism (about the presidency not being an internship)

OBAMA: Yeah. Well, the contest didnt work out so well against John McCain suggesting that John McCain as a senator hadnt done what Mitt Romney had done. And yet here we are and there Mitt Romney is. Look, when it comes to national security I think what people are looking for is good judgment.

On taxes

OBAMA: I will raise CEO taxes, there is no doubt about it. If you are

BLITZER: What about the average American?

OBAMA: If you are a CEO in this country, you will probably pay more taxes. They wont be prohibitively high. Youre going to be paying roughly what you paid in the 90s when CEOs were doing just fineIf youre making $100,000 a year or less, then youre pretty solidly middle class and you deserve relief right now as opposed to paying higher taxes. On the other hand, if youre making more than $100,000 and certainly if youre making more than $200 to $250,000, then youre doing pretty well

BLITZER: Because theyre arguing already that you want to increase capital gains taxes for example, investments, stocks, things like that. A lot of middle class people have those kinds of accounts.

OBAMA: If they have, Wolf, if they have a 401(k) then they are going to see those taxes convert and theyre going to pay ordinary income when they finally cash out. Thats a phony argument

On criteria for picking a Supreme Court Justice

OBAMA: Well, I think that my first criteria is to make sure that these are people who are capable and competent and that they are interpreting the law and 95 percent of the time, the law is so clear that its just a matter of applying the law. Im not somebody who believes in a bunch of judicial lawmaking.

BLITZER: Are there members, are justices right now upon who you would model, you would look at? Who do you like?

OBAMA: Well, I think actually Justice Breyer, Justice Ginsburg are very sensible judges. I think that Justice Souter, who was a Republican appointee is a sensible judge. What youre looking for is somebody who is going to buy the law where its clear. Now theres going to be those 5 percent of cases or 1 percent of the cases where the law isnt clear and the judge then has to bring in his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings and in those circumstances, what I do want is a judge whos sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who cant have access to political power and as a consequence, cant protect themselves from being dealt with sometimes unfairly. Then the courts become a refuge for judges. Thats been the historic role. Thats what this role in Brown versus Board of Education. I think a judge who is unsympathetic to the fact that in some cases, weve got to make sure that civil rights are protected, that weve got to make sure that civil liberties are protected because oftentimes the pressures that are placed on politicians to want to set civil liberties aside, especially in times when weve had terrorist attacks, making sure that we maintain our separation of powers so that we dont have a president who is taking over more and more power. I think those are all criteria by which I can judge whether or not this is a good appointee.

On Sen. McCains comments that Hamas favors Sen. Obama for U.S. president

OBAMA: This is offensive and I think its disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, Im not going to run that kind of politics and that engages in that kind of smear I think is unfortunate, particularly since my policy toward Hamas has been no different than hisAnd so for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We dont need name calling in this debate.

On whether he would select Sen. Clinton as his vice presidential nominee were he to be nominated (question from viewer through iReport)

OBAMA: Well, as I said before, “Time Magazine” notwithstanding, we havent wrapped this thing up yet. At the point where Im the nominee Ill start going through the process of figuring out what my running mate, who my running mate might be. Senator Clinton has shown herself to be an extraordinary candidate. She is tireless, she is smart. She is capable. And so obviously shed on anybodys short list to be a potential vice presidential candidate.

But it would be presumptuous of me at this point when she is still actively running, when she is highly favored to win two of the next three contests, for me to somehow suggest that she should be running mate. At this point I think we have to resolve this process and then we can figure it out.

Full Transcript

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Barack Obama hasnt clinched the Democratic

presidential nomination yet, but look at this, the cover of “Time

Magazine” declaring him the winner after the latest round of primaries.

How is he marking this important moment in this campaign? Well, Senator

Barack Obama is here in the SITUATION ROOM, the very first interview

hes given since Tuesdays contest in North Carolina and Indiana.

Senator, welcome.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Here is the cover. “And the Winner Is.” Thats a picture of

you. What do you think?

OBAMA: Well, I think I dont want to be jinxed. Weve still got some

work to do.

BLITZER: Its almost like you got the cover of “Sports Illustrated.” Is

that what youre nervous about, that?

OBAMA: Weve got six more contests left and then weve got a lot of work

to do to bring the party together but obviously we felt very good about

our win in North Carolina on Tuesday. I think we ran a terrific campaign

in Indiana and it was a virtual tie and if you look at where the race is

at this point, I think weve seen voters across the country say they are

ready for change, they are feeling real anxiety about the economy.

And theyve come to recognize that unless we change how Washington is

done. Its going to be very hard to deliver on a smarter energy policy.

Its going to be hard to provide health care for people who need it or

make college more affordable. And I think our campaign has benefited

from it and so Im looking forward to bringing this party together and

going after John McCain in the fall and hopefully getting this country

on the right track.

BLITZER: Its been intense in the primaries but you realize its going

to be much more intense in the next chapter, in the next stage given the

differences between you and John McCain. Are you ready for this next phase?

OBAMA: Im actually looking forward to it. If were successful. I dont

want to get ahead of myself, here. Senator Clinton is a very formidable

candidate. She is very heavily favored to win West Virginia. Shell win

that by a big margin. Shes favored in Kentucky. Well probably split

the remaining contests so shes going to be actively campaigning.

If Im fortunate enough to be the nominee, then I am looking forward to

the general election precisely because there is such a big, stark contrast

BLITZER: There are major differences between you and John McCain on a

whole host of domestic issues and foreign policy issues and I want to go

through those right now.

OBAMA: Sure.

BLITZER: Already some of his surrogates, some of his supporters, are

suggesting youre not ready to be commander in chief of the United

States. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, says this,

listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER MA GOVERNOR: He has not accomplished anything

during his life in terms of legislation or leading an enterprise or

making a business work or a city work or a state work. He really has

very little experience and the presidency of the United States is not an

internship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Wow. Thats a strong statement.

OBAMA: Yeah. Well, the contest didnt work out so well against John

McCain suggesting that John McCain as a senator hadnt done what Mitt

Romney had done. And yet here we are and there Mitt Romney is.

Look, when it comes to national security I think what people are looking

for is good judgment. Theyre looking for somebody who is going to be

able to assess the very real risks that are out there and deploy our

forces not just military but diplomatic, political, economic, cultural,

in a way that makes the American people safe and whether its my

judgment on Iraq and recognizing that that was going to be a strategic

blunder to my insistence that we need to talk not just to countries we

like but countries we dont to my assessment in terms of how we had

over-invested in the Musharraf government in Pakistan and that was going

to be setting us up for failure later on.

I think Ive consistently displayed the kind of judgment that the

American people are looking for in the next president.

BLITZER: I want to get to all of those national security, foreign policy

issues in a moment but lets talk about some domestic issues.

You know theyre going to paint you, the McCain camp, Republicans, as a

classic tax and spend liberal Democrat. That youre going to raise the

taxes for the American people and just spend money like there is no

tomorrow when it comes to federal government programs. Are you ready to

handle that kind of assault?

OBAMA: Absolutely.

Because think about what I am going to be running against. The failed

policies of the Bush administration which John McCain wants to continue.

I dont think there is anybody in the country who thinks that right now

weve got a government thats managed our domestic policies well and so

we can talk about the slogans of tax and spend or fiscal conservatism

but the fact of the matter is weve had an administration thats been

profligate, that has raised our national debt to a record level. We have

seen a lack of shared prosperity, so youve got CEOs making more in a

day than ordinary workers are making in the years and its the CEO

thats getting tax breaks instead of the workers.

BLITZER: Theyre going to say youre going to raise their taxes. What are

you going to say?

OBAMA: I will raise CEO taxes, there is no doubt about it. If you are

BLITZER: What about the average American?

OBAMA: If you are a CEO in this country, you will probably pay more

taxes. They wont be prohibitively high. Youre going to be paying

roughly what you paid in the 90s when CEOs were doing just fine.

BLITZER: So you want to just eliminate the Bush tax cuts?

OBAMA: Eliminate the Bush tax cuts and what Ive said is, I will

institute a middle class tax cut so if youre making $75,000, if youre

making $50,000 a year, you will see an extra $1,000 a year offsetting on

your (INAUDIBLE) I think that the definitions are always a little bit

rough, but lets just take it this way. If youre making $100,000 a year

or less, then youre pretty solidly middle class and you deserve relief

right now as opposed to paying higher taxes. On the other hand, if

youre making more than $100,000 and certainly if youre making more

than $200 to $250,000, then youre doing pretty well and its the people

who are making over $200, $250,000, who have benefited the most and have

actually seen, have actually seen more and more of economic growth in

this country go in your direction. And all were looking for here is a

sense of balance, because its my belief that this country has always

grown when it grows from the bottom up, when the average worker whos

putting in his time and trying to live out the American dream, when a

nurse or a teacher, shes able to support her family, then they spend

money, businesses do well and we generate tax revenues that can pay for

the common investments that we need and thats whats been lacking, a

sense of shared sacrifice as well as shared benefits from the economy (ph).

BLITZER: Because theyre arguing already that you want to increase

capital gains taxes for example, investments, stocks, things like that.

A lot of middle class people have those kinds of accounts.

OBAMA: If they have, Wolf, if they have a 401(k) then they are going to

see those taxes convert and theyre going to pay ordinary income when

they finally cash out. Thats a phony argument and this is something

that (INAUDIBLE) Republicans consistently is they try to make this

broad-based argument about hes going to raise your taxes and they cover

(ph) for them eliminating taxes for people like myself, like you, who

can afford to pay a little bit more in order to assure that weve got

roads and bridges that are rebuilt, in order to assure that Social

Security is solvent, in order to make sure that kids who are struggling

for their American dream can actually go to college, in order to make

sure that people arent going bankrupt just because somebody in their

family gets sick.

As I travel around the country, what Im actually convinced of is that

people recognize that its only 1 percent of the population is doing

well. Weve got wages and incomes for the average worker actually going

down during periods of economic expansion, much less economic recession.

Somethings being mismanaged and they want a different approach and

thats what were going to be offering and John McCain is essentially

offering four more years of the same policies that got us into this rut

that were in right now.

BLITZER: You used to teach constitutional law. You know a lot about the

Supreme Court. The next president of the United States will have an

opportunity to nominate justices for the Supreme Court. He gave a

speech, McCain this week, saying he wants justices like Samuel Alito and

John Roberts and he defined the kind of criteria he wants. So what would

be your criteria?

OBAMA: Well, I think that my first criteria is to make sure that these

are people who are capable and competent and that they are interpreting

the law and 95 percent of the time, the law is so clear that its just a

matter of applying the law. Im not somebody who believes in a bunch of

judicial lawmaking.

BLITZER: Are there members, are justices right now upon who you would

model, you would look at? Who do you like?

OBAMA: Well, I think actually Justice Breyer, Justice Ginsburg are very

sensible judges. I think that Justice Souter, who was a Republican

appointee is a sensible judge. What youre looking for is somebody who

is going to buy the law where its clear. Now theres going to be those

5 percent of cases or 1 percent of the cases where the law isnt clear

and the judge then has to bring in his or her own perspectives, his

ethics, his or her moral bearings and in those circumstances, what I do

want is a judge whos sympathetic enough to those who are on the

outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who

cant have access to political power and as a consequence, cant protect

themselves from being dealt with sometimes unfairly. Then the courts

become a refuge for judges. Thats been the historic role. Thats what

this role in Brown versus Board of Education. I think a judge who is

unsympathetic to the fact that in some cases, weve got to make sure

that civil rights are protected, that weve got to make sure that civil

liberties are protected because oftentimes the pressures that are placed

on politicians to want to set civil liberties aside, especially in times

when weve had terrorist attacks, making sure that we maintain our

separation of powers so that we dont have a president who is taking

over more and more power. I think those are all criteria by which I can

judge whether or not this is a good appointee.

BLITZER: Lets go through a couple foreign policy issues. McCain says if

you had your way, the U.S. would surrender in Iraq. He wants victory.

OBAMA: If I had my way, we would not have gone into Iraq in the first place.

BLITZER: But what about now?

OBAMA: I think it was a huge strategic blunder and I think the American

people are smart enough to understand that a phased withdrawal, where

were careful getting out as we were careless getting in, that puts

pressure on Iraqis to stand up and take seriously their obligation to

arrive at a political accommodation at the same time as we are doubling

down on diplomacy in the surrounding region, not just Saudi Arabia,

Turkey and Jordan, but also Syria and Iraq. Then we are also investing

in humanitarian aid for people who have been displaced in Iraq. Thats

not surrendering. Thats a sensible policy that will allow us then to

deal with our biggest strategic problem which is al Qaeda in Afghanistan

and the border region of Pakistan reconstituting themselves. And thats

something that we have been distracted from and something that I intend

to focus on when Im president of the United States.

BLITZER: This is going to be a huge difference, the war in Iraq, the

fallout between you and McCain. He also is going after you now. Todays

the 60th anniversary of Israels independence. He says youre not

necessarily endorsing policies that would be good for Israel. He says

this for example. I think its very clear who Hamas wants to be the next

president of the United States. I think that people should understand

that I will be Hamas worst nightmare. Senator Obama is favored by

Hamas. I think people can make judgments accordingly.

OBAMA: This is offensive and I think its disappointing, because John

McCain always says, well, Im not going to run that kind of politics and

that engages in that kind of smear I think is unfortunate, particularly

since my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his. Ive said

that they are a terrorist organization and we should not negotiate with

them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence and unless theyre

willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the

Israelis. And so for him to toss out comments like that I think is an

example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We

dont need name calling in this debate. What were going to need is to

have a serious conversation about how do keep nuclear weapons out of the

hands of the Iranian regime, how do we broker a peace deal between the

Israelis and Palestinians that allows both sides to benefit, Israel

assuring its security and its status as a Jewish state, the Palestinians

able to have a contiguous, functioning state where their people can prosper.

And if we end up continuing to be locked up in these ideological

arguments, playing politics of the sort that weve seen John McCain

doing recently, then I think frankly were going to miss an opportunity

to really move this country in a better direction and to reset our

foreign policy in a way that I think the world is anxious for. The world

wants to see the United States lead. Theyve been disappointed and

disillusioned over the last seven, eight years. But I think there is

still a sense everywhere I go that if the United States regains its

sense of who it is and our values and our ideals that we will continue

to set the tone for creating a more peaceful and more prosperous world.

BLITZER: I want to move on but on this 60th anniversary of Israel, what

does Israel mean to you?

OBAMA: Israel is not only our strongest ally in the region and one of

our strongest allies in the world but there is a special connection

between America and Israel, one that when I traveled to Israel was evident.

Not only do we share so much in terms of common culture, not only is it

the site of so much of our my religious your faith and the site of so

much of our understanding of the world around us but what I love about

Israel is it is such a robust democracy and that they are committed to

principles like rule of law and civil rights and civil liberties and so

it is critical that we send a message around the world, we will stand

with Israel, we want them around not just for 60 years but for 600 years

and when I am president of the United States they will have an

unwavering ally in me.

BLITZER: We asked our viewers to send us in some questions and we got

thousands of responses as you can only imagine. Ive got a couple. I

want you to watch one of those and get your reaction. A lot of people

asked this basic question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears you do not have enough support among blue

collar workers as Senator Clinton did. Would you consider just on that

basis alone considering her on a joint ticket as vice president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Well, as I said before, “Time Magazine” notwithstanding, we

havent wrapped this thing up yet. At the point where Im the nominee

Ill start going through the process of figuring out what my running

mate, who my running mate might be. Senator Clinton has shown herself to

be an extraordinary candidate. She is tireless, she is smart. She is

capable. And so obviously shed on anybodys short list to be a

potential vice presidential candidate.

But it would be presumptuous of me at this point when she is still

actively running, when she is highly favored to win two of the next

three contests, for me to somehow suggest that she should be running

mate. At this point I think we have to resolve this process and then we

can figure it out.

BLITZER: There will be plenty of time down the road.

OBAMA: There will be that.

BLITZER: All right. Here is a question. Listen to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I strongly believe that us human beings are defined

by what weve done in our lifetimes. What is the one thing that a

President Barack Obama, what will he be remembered for achieving during

his presidency or during his lifetime?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Well, weve got a lot of jobs before us but the most important

thing I think I could achieve if I am looking back eight years from now

and I am fortunate enough to be the president, is that we were able to

navigate our way through this situation in Iraq and the threat of al

Qaeda in Afghanistan in a way that makes us more secure, stronger but

also enhances our influence around the world which I think has been

diminishing.

I think the way we have run this war in Iraq has lessened our ability to

move our allies. It has led us to ignore the critical needs for us to

focus on a sound energy policy in this country. It has left us unable to

lead on critical global issues like global warming and it has led us to

neglect what ultimately is the most important thing to keeping America

safe and that is having an economy that is the envy of the world and

gives us the resources and the power to project ourselves around the world.

If China ends up becoming the economic powerhouse of this century then

their military will ultimately match up with that economic power. So

part of resetting our foreign policy has to include understanding that

there are Americans out there that are struggling.

They want to succeed, they want to get a college education. They want to

be scientists. They want to be on the cutting edge of clean energy. They

want to be on the cutting edge of biotech. But were going to have to

make some investments and ensure that the dynamism and the innovation of

the American people is released.

Its very hard for us to do that when were spending close to $200

billion a year in other countries, rebuilding those countries instead of

focusing on making ourselves strong.

BLITZER: Were out of time but a quick question on this Mothers Day

weekend. Your mother raised you. She was on food stamps at one point.

Single mother.

If she were alive today and she saw where you have reached, the point

that you have reached right now, what would she say to you?

OBAMA: Shed say dont let it get to your head, just keep on working

hard. But I think shed be pretty proud (inaudible). Everything that I

am I owe to her. She was the kindest, most generous person I ever met

and her values and her integrity still guide me. She is somebody who

when I am confronted with difficult choices, I have to ask myself what

would she expect of me? And I think thats usually a good guidepost.

Now, Ive got to say that the mother that counts most in my life at the

moment is Michelle who through a very difficult process continues to

raise two of the best daughters that anybody would ever want and shes

out on the campaign trail at the same time and keeping me straight so

happy Mothers Day to her as well.

BLITZER: And happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

BLITZER: OK. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

OBAMA: Thank you, Wolf. I enjoyed it.

END

Accessible VersionTerms of ServicePrivacy PolicyTrademarks

2008 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved

The Latest
Perch and other summer fishing around Chicago leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Three people were shot in Lake View East, where police had stepped up patrols after the Pride Parade.
The fire began in the basement of a house in the 4000 block of West Potomac Avenue early Sunday, officials said.
Two train passengers and one person in the truck were killed, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Devastated survivors struggle to grieve as the deceased’s great-granddaughter calls attention to herself.