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More Obama Interviews

By Dan Froomkin
12:22 PM ET, 02/12/2009

President Obama sat down with reporters from 16 regional newspapers yesterday.

Thomas Fitzgerald writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Obama said yesterday that he was confident that his economic-recovery legislation, the subject of intense final negotiations yesterday on Capitol Hill, would save or create three million to four million jobs even with spending cuts required to get Senate approval.

"'I would argue what's most likely is we undercount jobs,' Obama said during a 55-minute interview in the White House Roosevelt Room....

"If aid to states in the bill saves a teacher's job, for instance, 'you're probably not counting the fact that that teacher is still going to the dry cleaner down the street,' Obama said. 'I think the ripple effects of this package won't be entirely documentable, but I think it will be significant.'...

"On the cusp of the first major achievement of his young presidency, Obama was calm and relaxed in the interview, joking afterward: 'You ran me through my paces pretty good. I'll wipe my brow.'"

Jonathan Riskind writes in the Columbus Dispatch: "Some of the changes in spending and tax cuts that led to the final agreement by congressional leaders make sense to him and others do not, Obama said.

"But 'my bottom line has always been, is it creating jobs? And this bill creates jobs,' Obama said. 'Is it providing relief to states? It provides relief to states. Is it laying the foundation for long-term economic growth? It is. No president expects to get 100 percent of what they want, and I'm no different.'"

Todd Spangler writes in the Detroit Free Press: "President Barack Obama says he remains committed to giving the domestic auto industry 'serious help' in the future, but only if it proves its longtime viability and makes the changes necessary to turn the business into a profitable one going forward....

"'Get me a plan that works,' the president said....

"He also discussed legislation pushed by labor that could make it easier to organize. A supporter of the 'Employee Free Choice Act' decried by business, Obama said he believes there is no economic risk to workers organizing and making a living wage – especially if workers understand, as he says they seem to, that unreasonable demands on the part of labor would only serve to destroy jobs in the long run. He said he hoped to see in coming weeks forces on both sides talk about common ground which could be reached on the legislation."

Erika Bolstad writes in the Anchorage Daily News: "President Barack Obama on Wednesday called Alaska's proposed natural gas pipeline 'promising' as a national energy resource and pledged to discuss it with Canadian leaders during his Feb. 19 trip to Ottawa....

"'As I mentioned during the campaign, I actually think that for us to move forward on the natural gas pipeline as part of a comprehensive energy strategy -- that includes both more production as well as greater efficiency -- makes a lot of sense,' Obama said.....

"During Wednesday's interview, the president also touched on other energy issues. He said he believes offshore drilling can be appropriate -- but only in limited circumstances and as part of an overall energy mix that includes an emphasis on greater efficiency. Obama said he prefers to hold out for a 'more comprehensive strategy' rather than proceeding with wide-scale drilling in the national's outer continental shelf.

"'In isolation I think it's shortsighted because it's not going to come on line quickly enough and provide enough oil to fill the hole that we're going to be seeing in the years to come,' he said.

"He also reiterated his support for the announcement this week by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who on Tuesday effectively slowed any new leases in the outer continental shelf for six months."

Jessica Wehrman of the Dayton Daily News, Dale Eisman of the (Norfolk, Va.) Virginian-Pilot and Deb Price of the Detroit News have more.

The Inquirer's Fitzgerald noted: "At the end of yesterday's interview, someone asked Obama about a wooden box with a gold presidential seal and a red button on the table in front of his chair.

"'If any of you really got me mad, I would press the button, and...' Obama joked. Seriously, he said it was a panic button to summon the Secret Service in an emergency. 'No bombs,' he said.

"And on at least one matter, the president refused to take a stand: Who would win last night's basketball game between the University of North Carolina and Duke? He honestly didn't know, he said. Besides, Obama said, he would not want to go against his personal assistant, Reggie Love, a player on Duke's 2001 national championship team.

"'If I said anything contrary to Duke,' Obama said, 'I might not be able to find my BlackBerry.'"

And here is the transcript of an interview Obama conducted earlier this week with Black Enterprise magazine Editor-In-Chief Derek T. Dingle.

Dingle: "What do you tell our readers, many of whom are hurting and anxious? What should they do while they wait for all of these programs to roll out?"

Obama: "Don't wait. People have to continue to innovate, look for new customers, try to find creative ways to turn crisis into opportunity, retool for the future. But I want them to know that help is on the way."

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