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Entries in Barbara Walters (9)

Wednesday
Dec122012

Hillary Clinton Says While "All Doors Open," No Presidential Bid Yet

State Department photo(NEW YORK) -- When Hillary Rodham Clinton steps down from her post as secretary of state as expected early next year, her political career will have spanned over two decades.

She is by far the most popular official in the Obama administration, and is already the leading candidate should she choose to run for president again in 2016. So is this really goodbye for the former first lady, senator and secretary of state? Or will Hillary Clinton, who recently turned 65 years old, re-invent herself once again?

In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, Clinton said that while "all doors are open" for her future, one thing is for certain: she is definitely leaving the cabinet as soon as a new secretary is sworn in.

"It sounds so simple, but I've been, as you know, at the highest levels of American and now international activities for twenty years, and I just thought it was time to take a step off… maybe do some reading and writing and speaking and teaching," said Clinton.

She told Walters that she doesn't have a plan for what she'll do immediately after leaving political life, but has considered working in philanthropy or academia. When pressed on whether her future includes a widely-speculated 2016 run for president, Clinton maintains that she still does not plan to run.

"I've said I really don't believe that that's something I will do again," she said. "I am so grateful I had the experience of doing it before."

She went on to say, however, that if she did choose to run she would not be concerned about her age. Clinton would be 77 years old at the end of a second term.

"I am, thankfully, knock on wood, not only healthy, but have incredible stamina and energy," she said.

She did admit that being the most-traveled Secretary of State in U.S. history has taken a toll.

"Being on planes, as you know, as much as I am, takes something out of anybody, doesn't matter how old you are, or how often you've done it," she said. Clinton, who has traveled to 112 countries as a member of President Obama’s cabinet, said she replenishes her energy by drinking a lot of water, trying to swim and do yoga when time permits and regulate her sleep.

Her darkest moment as Secretary of State happened this year when terrorists in Libya attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, killing four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Clinton calls the attack the "worst time" in her tenure.

"It's something that is certainly terrible," she said. "We take risks in the work we do. The people who do this work, are often in very threatening environments, whether it's our military or our civilian people around the world, I have just the most extraordinary admiration for them."

Clinton, who knew Stevens personally, has repeatedly said that no one wants to find out what happened in Benghazi more than she does. The results from an internal State Department investigation are expected to be released soon.

Clinton said she is leaving the office feeling immensely proud of what has been accomplished over the last four years.

"When I became secretary, when the president took office, we were in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, but we also were experiencing some very negative attitudes toward our country,” she said. "I don't think there's any doubt now, and we have gone through enormous difficult changes, but I think everyone knows that the United States and our leadership is to be counted on."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec112012

ABC News EXCLUSIVE: Obama Recognizes Syrian Opposition Group

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In a diplomatic shift, President Obama said Tuesday his administration now formally recognizes the newly-formed, leading coalition of Syrian rebels who are fighting to topple Syria's embattled President Bashar Assad.

"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama said.

The announcement, made during an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters, grants new legitimacy to the rebel group and marks a new phase in U.S. efforts to isolate the Assad regime.

"It's a big step," Obama said of the decision. The United States follows Britain and the European Union, both of which last month recognized the Syrian opposition group.

More of Barbara Walters' exclusive first joint, post-election interview with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama airs Friday, Dec. 14, on 20/20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

The diplomatic designation will allow the United States to more closely support rebel efforts, including the organization of a future post-Assad government, administration officials said.

"Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities," Obama said of the young coalition. "To make sure that they organize themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, [and] that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights."

The move does not include the provision of weapons, but it opens the door for that possibility in the future.

"Providing arms has to be done in a way that helps promote a political solution," one senior Obama administration official said Tuesday. "And until we understand how these arms promote a political solution, we do not see how provision of arms is a good idea."

But the official added, "the president has never ruled out in the future providing arms."

Obama expressed caution Tuesday about some Syrian factions involved with the coalition, warning that the United States will not support extremist elements.

"Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with," Obama told Walters. "There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-U.S. agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements."

The president specifically singled out the group Jabhat al-Nusrah for its alleged affiliation with al Qaeda in Iraq. The State Department says the jihadist group is responsible for nearly 600 violent attacks in major Syrian cities in the past year.

"Through these attacks, al-Nusrah has sought to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition while it is, in fact, an attempt by [al Qaeda in Iraq] to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The Obama administration blacklisted al-Nusrah earlier this week, imposing economic sanctions and branding it a terrorist organization.

Recognition of the Syrian rebel group has been expected. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to formally announce the new relations with the United States during a meeting of international allies supporting Syria's rebels in Marrakech, Morocco, on Wednesday.

She has since cancelled her trip because of an illness. Her deputy, Bill Burns, will attend in her place.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec112012

ABC News EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.

"I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals," Obama said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.

"I don't think they'll do that," he said of Republicans forcing tax-rate increases for families earning $250,000 a year or less.

The sign of optimism follows weeks of tense negotiations and public posturing to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," an economically toxic package of $6 trillion in across-the-board tax hikes and $1.2 trillion in deep spending cuts that could begin in early 2013.

The White House and House Speaker John Boehner have exchanged new, competing deficit-reduction plans over the last 24 hours, sources say, but there is little indication of real progress toward a deal.

Obama has taken a hard line against extending current, lower tax rates on income over $250,000, which would affect the top 2 percent of income earners. Republicans have said those rates should be extended.

The standoff threatens higher rates for everyone unless a broad "cliff" deal is reached, or the middle-income rates are extended on their own.

"I remain optimistic," Obama told Walters. "I'd like to see a big package. But the most important thing we can do is make sure that middle class taxes do not go up on Jan. 1."

More of Barbara Walters' exclusive first joint, post-election interview with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama airs Friday, Dec. 14, on 20/20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

Obama met privately with Boehner at the White House on Sunday for their second face-to-face session on the fiscal negotiations, signaling potential progress toward an agreement. But neither side presented specific details about the outcome of the meeting.

"I think the tone was good," Obama told Walters. "I believe that both Speaker Boehner and myself and the other leaders want to see a deal happen. And the question now is can we get it done. The outlines, the framework of what a deal should look like are pretty straightforward."

While the administration has emphasized tax increases on the wealthy, Republicans insist they need specific commitments from the White House on cuts to entitlement program spending, which are the primary drivers of federal deficits and debt.

"It was a nice meeting, it was cordial," Boehner said Tuesday of his Sunday meeting. "But we're still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the 'balanced approach' that he promised the American people."

Boehner and House Republicans have proposed curbing the rate of increase for Social Security payments and raising the eligibility age for Medicare, among other changes, which are non-starters for many Obama supporters.

In his interview with Walters, the president hinted at new flexibility on entitlement spending cuts, but only once Republicans concede on top tax rates.

"If the Republicans can move on that [taxes] then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side," Obama said. "Taxes are going to go up one way or another. And I think the key is that taxes go up on high-end individuals."

Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 is "something that's been floated," Obama said, not dismissing the idea outright.

"When you look at the evidence, it's not clear that it actually saves a lot of money," he said. "But what I've said is let's look at every avenue, because what is true is we need to strengthen Social Security, we need to strengthen Medicare for future generations, the current path is not sustainable because we've got an aging population and health care costs are shooting up so quickly."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec222011

Exclusive: Obama Reflects on First-Term Mistakes, Economy

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As his third year in the White House draws to a close, President Obama offered a candid assessment of his presidency in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters, accepting some responsibility for the gridlock in Washington while projecting a sense of optimism for his re-election and America's future.

Obama took office in 2009 promising to change the culture in Washington, while refusing to let it change him. Taking stock three years on, Obama admits he's come up short on cultivating a spirit of bipartisan cooperation and unity of purpose and needs more time.

"That mindset doesn't exist in Washington right now, and I do take some responsibility for making sure that that spirit which I think the country longs for, that we can somehow get that in the Congress as well," Obama said.  "But that seems to be a longer than one-term project."

"Can you admit to any mistakes that you've made?" Walters asked.

"Oh, I think probably once a day, I look back and I say, you know, I could have done that a little bit better," Obama said.

Obama cited his approach to setting expectations for the "long haul" of economic recovery as less effective than desired.  He also admits that he could have been more resolute in his early dealings with congressional Republicans.  Obama -- who once said his GOP rivals could get "to the back of the bus" because he'd won the election -- looked back at his approach as more compromising, which he tells Walters ultimately angered some parts of his base.

"When it comes to dealing with Congress, you know, of late, I've said, I'm not going to wait for Congress.  I'm going to go ahead and just do whatever I have in my executive power," he said. "I think that there were times in my first couple a years where I kept on sitting there trying to see if we can negotiate some sort of compromise, and there just was a lot of refusal on the other side's part to compromise."

"And, I'd just stay at it... but as a consequence, I think a lot of time was lost that frustrated a lot of people around the country," Obama said.  "They want to see action on behalf of some of these issues."

Still, Obama, who has sat down with Walters for a pre-Christmas interview in each year of his term, said little about himself has changed despite the political buffeting presidents endure.

"I'm definitely grayer.  And people tell me I'm a little thinner, so I've got to start making sure I'm eating enough," Obama said.  "But in terms of what I care about, in terms of what led me to run for president in the first place, those things haven't changed."

Watch Walters' full interview with President Obama during a 20/20 holiday special on Friday, Dec. 23, at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Exclusive: Obama Faults Republican 'Extremes' for DC Gridlock  

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As political gridlock again has threatened Washington with government shutdown, President Obama faulted Republicans' election year "lurch into extremes" for keeping compromise out of reach.

"You know, you never want to say, 'It's all them,'" Obama said in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters. "But I do think that right now at least, in the Republican Party there are a couple of notions. Number one is that compromise is a dirty word. Number two, anything that Obama's for, we're against."

While excerpts of the interview aired Thursday night on World News with Diane Sawyer, the full interview can be seen during a 20/20 holiday special on Friday, Dec. 23, 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

The president pointed to the ongoing fight over Democrats' health care overhaul as an example of what has gone awry, calling out his top two potential Republican challengers for having previously supported elements in his plan.

"If I propose a health care bill that is full of Republican ideas -- in fact, is very similar to the law that was passed by the current Republican front runner, or one of the top frontrunners -- the other guy was supportive of many of the ideas as well -- suddenly, they become against it," he said.

He was alluding to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich in 2007 called on Congress to create a national health insurance exchange, health savings accounts and "require anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year to purchase health insurance or post a bond." He has since called the idea of an individual mandate "unconstitutional."

In 2006, then-governor Romney signed into law health care legislation that required state residents to obtain a health insurance plan or face a penalty and provided subsidies to some who couldn't afford insurance. Both elements are part of Obama's plan.

"I do think those dynamics are making it more difficult to get things done," Obama said. "And it's not unusual, after such a severe economic crisis like this, for the politics to be impacted by that, for people to lurch into extremes, or to get more combative."

The inability of Democrats and Republicans in Congress to compromise, fueled in part by pre-primary rhetoric on the campaign trail, threatened for the third time this year to shut down the government this weekend if both sides can't reach a deal on a spending bill and payroll tax cut extension.

Meanwhile, unfavorable views of Obama have hit an all-time high, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

"Does that suggest that the American people find you a mediocre president?" Walters asked Obama.

"I think what it suggests is that we've gone through a very difficult time. And, in order for us to move forward, we're going to have to do more work," he said.

"So, you won't be a mediocre two-term president? " Walters asked.

"I want to be a really good two-term president," Obama said. "I think that the choices we've made have made America stronger, and have made the American people... put them in a better position in order to succeed over the long term. Short term, folks are still hurting."

Turning from campaign politics to a major milestone in Iraq, Obama lavished praise on military service members who formally lowered the flag on the U.S. mission there after nearly nine years.

"Our troops are coming home with their heads held high, because despite an extraordinarily difficult situation, because of their sacrifice and their skill, they are handing over to Iraq a country that has had a democratic election, that is working in a political fashion instead of a violent fashion to solve differences," Obama said.

But Obama stopped short from characterizing the U.S. effort in Iraq as "victorious."

"I would describe our troops as having succeeded in the mission of giving to the Iraqis their country in a way that gives them a chance for a successful future," he said.

Obama, who did not support the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and called it a "dumb" war, pledged during his presidential campaign to initiate an end to the conflict immediately upon taking office. He's spent the last few months making a point of underscoring the promise kept.

"One of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military will come to an end," Obama told troops at Ft. Bragg on Wednesday. "Iraqis future will be in the hands of its people. America's war in Iraq will be over."

In August 2010, Obama announced an end to combat operations in Iraq, and in October he said that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn by the end of this year.

Thursday, in a small ceremony in Baghdad, the U.S. military formally lowered the flag on its mission there after nearly nine years.

The war cost taxpayers more than $800 billion, according to Defense Department estimates. Nearly 4,500 Americans were killed in the fighting along with tens of thousands of Iraqis. More than 32,000 U.S. service members were wounded in action.

"History will judge the original decision to go into Iraq," Obama said during a press conference Monday. "But what's absolutely clear is, as a consequence of the enormous sacrifices that have been made by American soldiers and civilians as well as the courage of the Iraqi people, that what we have now achieved is an Iraq that is self-governing, that is inclusive, and that has enormous potential."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec122011

Exclusive: ‘It Was Very Painful,’ Herman Cain Says of Allegations

Donna Svennevik/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Despite suspending his presidential bid, Herman Cain says that he is innocent of all the charges made against him and his wife, Gloria, didn’t ask him to leave the race.

“She would never do that,” Cain told Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview for her 10 Most Fascinating People special. “My wife and I have been married for 43 years. She shared with me how she felt; it was very painful. She believes me. And so I’m at peace with her, she’s at peace with me.”

What started as a dream campaign for a confident 66-year-old black conservative businessman bucking the establishment, ended in a nightmare of sexual harassment allegations and charges of long-term infidelity.

The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza said he made the decision to suspend his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination “because of the pain that it was causing my wife, and my family, and me, every time it is brought up in the media over and over and over. They were not going to stop.”

He told Walters that “in many ways,” he is happy to have his life back.

“I was prepared for much of the things that I had to do but it was the vicious, unrelenting, character assassination that finally caused too much pain to my wife, my family and me.”

Cain announced Dec. 3 that he planned to devote his attention to “Plan B,” an organization called TheCainSolutions.com to advance his 9-9-9 economic plan and other ideas.

Watch ABC’s Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov272010

ABC News Exclusive: President and First Lady Reflect on Tenure

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After two tough years in office, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sat down with ABC’s Barbara Walters for an exclusive interview and reflected on their tenures, and the many challenges they've faced.

With Thanksgiving travelers up in arms over the Transportation Security Administration's controversial new pat-down procedures, President Barack Obama said the security screenings are justified to keep the nation safe.

"This is gonna be something that evolves. We are gonna have to work on it," Obama told Walters, indicating the need for new technologies.

Coming off the "shellacking" the Democrats took in the 2010 midterm elections, Michelle Obama told Walters she encouraged the president to roll up his sleeves and "get to work."

"I said, 'Let's, let's get to work. There is a lot to do.' ... I think for, for us, it's always the focus on what we need to get done, the work ahead," she said.

Despite Democratic losses, which many considered a referendum on the president, Michelle said she considers her husband's policies a success.

To those who say that the president squandered his political capital by pushing for health care when he should have focused on the economy, Obama defended his record.

"This notion that somehow you can only do one thing at once is simply not true. The fact is, is that we stabilized the financial system...we turned an economy that was contracting to one that was growing. We have added a million jobs over the last year to the economy," Obama told Walters. "I am absolutely confident that when we fully implemented health care, and we started to see those costs go down and we have seen people who don't have health insurance get health insurance, and we have seen families who have health insurance more secure and they are not being jerked around by arbitrary rules from their insurance companies, that that's gonna be a lasting legacy that I am extraordinarily proud of."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov242010

ABC Exclusive: Obama Focused on Being 'Best Possible President'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/Handout(WASHINGTON) -- In an exclusive White House interview with Barbara Walters, President Barack Obama says he's not giving much thought to the 2012 election, but is focusing instead on being "the best possible president."  And, he said, he certainly isn't focused on a potential challenge from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

When asked specifically if he thinks he can beat Sarah Palin in 2012, the president told Walters "I don't think about Sarah Palin."

"Obviously Sarah Palin has a strong base of support in the Republican Party and I respect those skills," Obama said.  "But I spend most of my time right now on how I can be the best possible president.  And my attitude has always been, from the day I started this job, that if I do a good job and if I'm delivering for the American people the politics will take care of itself.

"If I falter and the American people are dissatisfied, then I'll have problems," he said.

The interview, which also included first lady Michelle Obama, covered a wide range of topics including the recent events in North Korea, the latest controversies over TSA screenings in airports, the "shellacking" his party took in the 2010 midterms, the economy, and, of course, Thanksgiving traditions.

The full interview, A Barbara Walters Special: A Thanksgiving Visit with President and Mrs. Obama, will air Friday, Nov. 26 on ABC at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov172010

Sarah Palin Says She Could Beat Obama in Presidential Race

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin says she is seriously considering a run for the White House, and she believes she could beat President Obama in 2012, the former Alaska governor told ABC News' Barbara Walters.

"I'm looking at the lay of the land now, and...trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing," Palin said in an interview scheduled to air in its entirety Dec. 9 on ABC as part of Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010.

Although Palin remains undecided about whether to run, the 2008 vice presidential nominee has now made clear in two interviews this week that she is seriously considering it.

In a profile to be published in the upcoming New York Times Magazine, Palin told reporter Robert Draper "I am," when asked if she was weighing a 2012 run. "I'm engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here."

Palin said her decision would involve "evaluating whether she could bring unique qualities to the table," admitting the biggest challenge would be proving her record.

"I know that a hurdle I would have to cross, that some other potential candidates wouldn't have to cross right out of the chute, is proving my record," the former Alaska governor told Draper. "That's the most frustrating thing for me -- the warped and perverted description of my record and what I've accomplished over the last two decades."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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