Obama June 17, 2008 press availability. Transcript.

SHARE Obama June 17, 2008 press availability. Transcript.

June 17, 2008 Obama press availability.

061708 (Verbatim Transcript) Plane Avail

**Many of the questions are inaudible. Information in brackets is rough.*

Q: Do you think the McCain campaign is coming after your comments on Guantanamo

Bay and the detainees?

BO: I did [inaudible]

Q: Well, it’s pretty harsh stuff. National security (inaudible) is saying you

have to (inaudible)?

BO: Well, let’s think about this. These are the same guys who helped to

engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned

down the people who actually committed 9/11. In part because of their failed

strategies we’ve got Bin Laden still sending out audio tapes and so I don’t

think they have much standing to suggest that they’ve learned a lot of lessons

form 9/11. Let’s talk specifically about my statement on Guantanamo. The

question is whether or not as the Supreme Court said people who are being held

have a chance to at least suggest that hey you’ve got the wrong guy or I should

be. It’s not a question of whether or not they’re free and the simple point that

I was making which I will continue to make throughout this campaign is that we

can abide by due process and abide by basic concepts of rule of law and still

crack down on terrorists. None of the folks that were speaking for McCain today

have given us one bit of information that would suggest as a consequence of the

court’s ruling terrorists will be able to attack more effectively. They haven’t

indicated one realistic scenario in which we would be less safe as a consequence

of us simply allowing these individuals to be heard one time to find out whether

they should be held accountable. And so this is the same kind of fear monger

that got us into Iraq and has caused us to be hugely distracted from the war we

do have to fight against terrorism and it’s exactly that failed foreign policy

that I want to reverse. I would also point out that none of them seem to

indicate the degree to which our reputation around the world has been severely

damaged as a consequence of Guantanamo not just in Arab countries, not just in

Muslim countries, but among key allies like the Europeans and it was unnecessary

and it continues to be unnecessary. So I want to do everything we can to capture

terrorists and (inaudible) terrorists, kill them where that is the best approach

we could take but I see no need for us to create a situation which we undermine

our own ideals and our own institutions in way that actually strengthens to

ability of terrorists to recruit and engage in propaganda against the United


Q: (inaudible)

BO: I understand now, hold on a second. I just want to be clear about this. The

fact that you are a lying atheists does not necessitate that you are suddenly

putting terrorists in a full US trial court. That’s not, those two things are

not equivalent.

Q: (inaudible)

BO: well I think that there are ways that we can, well first of all. We can

lock them up in military facilities on US soil in the same way that we locked

them up in Guantanamo. The reason we set up Guantanamo is because the

administration wanted to set up a black hole where there was no accountability

whatsoever. The Supreme Court has now said we can’t do that. And as consequence

the whole purpose of Guantanamo is defeated and now were going, what we need to

be doing is locking these folks up and where there are dangerous individuals we

have to create a system of due process where we can show that the fact they were

dangerous. It does not have to be before a US district court, but if we provided

some (inaudible) of due process we can have confidence that we got the right

people. That we’re not wasting time on the wrong people. We can send a message

to the world that we continue to abide by the standard rules of law. And we can

actually be more effective in our pursuit of terrorism.

Q: Senator, I’ve got a question about the economy. Certainly you’re hearing

every day about the rise of oil prices. When economists talk about the factors

that contribute to that say that the dollars weakness is one of the factors

contributing to that. If you’re elected President do you think you should have

a dollar policy and do you think the dollar should strengthen the economy.

BO: I do think we should have a dollar policy but the dollar tends to is both

a problem by itself but also a symptom of underlying problems. And if we solve

some of these underlying problems the dollar will strengthen accidentally. That

starts with our housing situation. If we can stabilize our housing market,

using a home foreclosure prevention fund, legislation that’s been proposed by

Barney Frank. If we can get that past stabilizing the housing market, putting a

floor beneath which housing will not sink so that the credit markets have a

little more confidence. And what I think you can expect is that credit will

flow more freely, the economy will start to rebound and the fed will have the

flexibility. They won’t feel pressure to continually lower interest rates which

in turn weakens the dollar then creates a spiral which causes oil prices to

spike up and contribute to inflation. So getting the fundamentals right can go

a long way towards fixing the dollar. The other thing more long term is

having an energy policy where we’re not sending millions of dollars in oil

revenue every month over seas, not borrowing as much from China and other

countries. If we can fix our current accounts deficit and our trade imbalances

that will also help strengthen the dollar. Right now the gulf and China have so

many dollars that they don’t that decreases the price of the dollar.

Q: Would it be — if the dollar was strengthens?

BO: Well obviously, right now it’s good for the exports that the dollar’s

weak. I’m not somebody who thinks that we should spend a lot of time

manipulating our monetary policy, our fiscal party simply to strengthen the

dollar. I want to strengthen the economic policies of the country in such a way

that the dollar on its own accord is strengthened.

Q: Senator your thoughts on speculators and — the spike in gas prices

BO: I think that I would distinguish between having a commodities market in

oil, which a lot of people use to lock in a price and hedge it against future

increases. Which I think is legitament operation. And practices where

investors or buyers can artificially jack up the price of oil in order to secure

short term profits. I think that we’ve got to have amuch better job of

monitoring irregularities in these markets. I know there’s legislation that’s

currently pending to investigate and prevent some of these market

manipulations. So I would distinguish between the market itself, which — and

abuses the department which may be taking place and I think are worthy of



BO: Well, I make a couple of points. Number one, this is a reversal by John

McCain in terms of his early position. I think we would set up an interesting

debate between John McCain in 2000 and John McCain in 2008. The biggest problem

with John McCain’s position is that it seems like a classic Washington political

solution which is to go out there and make a statement without any clear

evidence that this would result in strengthening the US economy or providing

relief to consumers. There is no way that allowing off shore drilling would

lower gas prices right now at best you’re looking at 5 years or more down the

road and even the most optimistic assumptions indicate that offshore drilling

might reduce the overall world price of oil by a few cents so this is not

something that’s going to give consumers short term relief and it is not a long

term solution to our problems with fossil fuels generally and oil in particular

so if in fact as I believe we can save a lot more in terms of our addiction to

foreign oil by reducing consumption by developing plug in hybrids by developing

alternative fuels if those savings are far more than the amount of oil that

could be taken out of the continental (inaudible?) shelf or anwr then it doesn’t

make sense for us to do it and unfortunately I think this is another example

where I think john McCain has taken the politically expedient way out- he had it

right the first time just as he had to right with the Bush tax cuts the first

time I think he finds himself pushing further and further to the right in ways

that in my mind don’t show a lot of leadership .

Q: inaudible

BO- I remember my quote- I was there it was just yesterday

Q- inaudible

BO- jake that’s not what they’re driving at.. what they’re trying to do is to

do what they’ve done in every election which is to use terrorism as a club to

make the American people afraid to win elections, that’s what they’re trying to

do. They are not serious about this, because they if they wanted to have a

serious conversation about it then they would know for example that the issue of

habeous corpus is not the designed to free prisoners what its designed to do is

make sure that prisoners are who are being held have at least on shot at saying

I’m being held wrongly my quote the point I was making that I’ve made before is

that without giving full blown rights to those who are being held we can set up

a system of due process and when I said that the administration didn’t even try

to do that what I uh had consistently said is that rather than figure out how do

we effectively hold these folks detain them, revive them with some (inaudible)

of due process, try them lock them up the administration decided to take a bunch

of short cuts what it essentially wanted to do was to be completely insulated

from any checks or balances and my position on this and a whole host of other

issues related to battling terrorism has always been clear and that is that we

don’t have to treat these folks as US citizens we don’t have to treat them the

same way that we would treat a criminal suspect in the United States but we

should abide by the Geneva conventions we should at least follow through on the

same principles that we followed through with when we were dealing with Nazis

during (inaudible) that is not only the right thing to do but it also will

actually strengthen our ability over the long term to fight terrorism.

Q: inaudible

BO: Well its 2008 and I think that the American people are clear that the war

in Iraq did not work, has not made a statement but, cost us [inaudible] huge

amounts of [inaudible] I think that the American people are clear that, we have

neglected our domestic agenda and ultimately national security has to be tied up

with economic security of the American people, and better to [inaudible]

economy, and this administration has been a disaster on this front. And, I think

what else is different is I am looking forward to having a robust argument about

these situations, I dont shy away from, I think that the way these issues have

been framed, have done a great disservice to America, I think that [inaudible]

now thats not to say that we shouldnt be able to craft a strong bi partisan

consensus on these issues, if we need to politicize these issues, then I think

we need to come up with a strategies that ensure that we are tracking terrorists

that we are listening into there communications, that we are holding up there

financial institutions, that we are hunting them down, that we are in capacity

them, but, in order for us to do that effectively in a way that brings the

country together, weve got to stop trying to play political games with it, and

thats what we have been doing for the past eight years, and thats part of why

the country feels so divided around issues when we shouldnt be divided.

Q: Senator when you meet with the members of the AFL the CIA, tomorrow, how

will you be saying that to reassure them, concerned express last week


BO: I will be saying that Jason Furman is an outstanding young economists, he

has experience working on presidential campaigns and reacting rapidly to the

demands of a campaign, that, his job is to be an honest broker, reflecting a

wide range of economic views, because that is how I make decisions, and I want

to hear arguments from all sides, and then, exercise my own judgment in terms of

what I think is effective, he is not whispering in my ear, and he is not shaping

my core beliefs around what is needed in the American economy, he is one of my

[inaudible] economists, and so, I will suggest to them that, looking at one

staff person and getting nervous about it, probably doesnt make sense.

Q: [inaudible]

BO: Well, well, I mean you guys are the pundits, you guys do the political

analysis, I would just like to make a couple of points based on what I have

heard over the last few days, theres been suggestions that, well hes loosing

among white men, well, it turns out that Im doing better among white men than

John Kerry did in the last election, or and I would note that, its been a while

since, democrats won white men overall, so, this is not some problem thats

unique to me, people have suggested that hes got Latino problems, except right

now Ive got a 35 point lead among Latinos, people have suggested well, he is

going to have to figure out how to attract women, despite the fact that I have a

healthy lead among women, including white women, certainly in white working

class women, so, you know rather than try to, what I said, slice and dice all

these demographic groups, what I have tried to do is present an agenda that will

be good for all Americans, black, white, male, female, Hispanic, non Hispanic,

and I think that will work. You know, we have never run our campaign based on

let’s try to fasten on to a particular demographic group because I don’t think

that’s how the American people think.

Q: [inaudible]

BO: You know I think the strategic oil reserve at thisyou know sometimes I’m

asked about agreements with the Bush administration. They’re rare. But I do

agree thatwe have to think about the strategic oil reserve as an insurance

policy for a huge disruption, one in which the economy is potentially crippled.

We’re not at that stage obviously. It’s painful and that’s why I’ve been so

adamant about the need for a middle class tax cut to provide families some

immediate relief to rising oil prices and I have supported not filling the

strategic reserve suspending new oil going into the reserve. We can pay that

back later when prices have potentially gone down. But I don’t think that we

want to start messing with a strategic reserve that we might need, for example,

if heaven forbid there was an attack on major oil fields in Saudi Arabia that

supply [large countries] for sustained periods of time.

Q: [first part of the question is inaudible, but the second part of the

question has to do with the hiring process of the campaign]

BO: Well, you know I think spattering of moves yesterday with senator Grandell

talked about Senator Clinton and when I got up there I shut that down and made

very clear that Senator Clinton deserves respect. She ran a great race and we

are moving forward because we want to win in November. You know i think that

people were still in primary mindset and we’re moving into general election

mindset and that’s happening. I think overall that’s happening. A month from now

we’re not going to be talking about that. Patty Soleis Doyle is a terrific

experienced campaign hand. She’s from Chicago. Her brother and I organized on

the south east side of Chicago when I first moved to Chicago as a community

organizer so I’ve known the family for a very long time. I think that she will

bring not only a set of skills that we’re going to need as we put our ticket

together, but she’s going to be a terrific advisor and offer insider judgment

that will help us win in November.

Q: [are you going to meet with Senator Clinton this week in Washington?]

BO: I think she’s going on vacation, or she deserves to [inaudible]

Q: [question deals with the flooding in the Midwest]

BO: Yes I actually had a conversation with Governor Culver right after our

college education event and, you know I think it’s important for us to

understand the size and the magnitude of this disaster. It was a slow rolling

disaster. It didn’t have the drama of a major hurricane butand thank goodness

that we didn’t see significant causalities. But it terms of the economic losses

in that state and the prospects of rebuilding, it is mind boggling. You’ve got

the second largest city in Iowa that’s going to be under water for at least

another four or five days. You have three million [bakers] and corn that are

effectively destroyed. Losses are going to be in the tens of millions of dollars

potentially. And if we’re not done, part of the reason that I won the contact

Governor Culver is that we’re going to be seeing problems spill over as the

Mississippi rises. It’s about to crest. I was in Quincy, I think you joined me,

this weekend to fill some sandbags and put together an assessment of what’s

going on there Burlington along the Mississippi and some of the river towns in

Missouri are all going to be impacted by this and so I just wanted to assure

Governor Culver that we’re going to do everything we can to get aid there

rapidly. I’m glad to hear that the president is going to be going there on

Thursday but you know we’re going to have to make sure —

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