Entries in Interview (19)


Cory Booker Jokes Mayor Job Drove Him to Drink — Coffee That Is

Cindy Ord/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker answered viewer questions from Facebook and Twitter for an ABC News’ web exclusive before joining the This Week roundtable on Sunday.  After Booker discussed his future Senate plans, his time as Newark mayor, and his Twitter routine, he admitted to a few other personal habits.  He believes that his job “drove him to drink” - but coffee is the vice in question.

“I did not drink coffee before this job. I always say this job drove me to drink,” Booker joked.

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How many hours a day do you spend on Twitter?

“I guess it’s so seamless that I don’t really think about it that way. So it’s like going from meeting to meeting, or waiting for people to come into the office. A lot of it happens in the early morning when I wake up or late at night, which gives a lot of my followers this idea that I don’t sleep. But if I wake up… like this morning around four o’clock, I’ll start checking my Twitter and responding to people.”

Do you feel you can take a day off from tweeting?

“You know, it’s so integrated. It’s like saying ‘do I want to take a day off from talking or do I want to take a day off from connecting to people.’ And I’ve looked at the averages, maybe sometimes 15, 20 tweets a day. Sometimes it goes down, sometimes it goes up depending on what’s going on. But… this is the democratization of our democracy in a weird way. Because so many forces are pulling people away, leaders away from the people, special interest groups, money in politics, creating more of an elite environment. But I think that social media has a chance to pull people back and have politicians far more accessible, far more transparent, far more connected, and ultimately move from a hierarchical society to a level playing field.”

What are your thoughts on ‘Clinton/Booker 2016′?

“Unless Clinton/Booker 2016 is some kind of new rock band that might be coming out… look, at the end of the day in life, purpose is far more important than position. And so many of us lose sight of where we are by looking at where we’re going to go. So right now I’m mayor of the city of Newark and I love what I’m doing. In many ways, this is my highest aspiration in terms of having a job where I can really help people. The next thing I’m thinking about doing next year is possibly running for the United States Senate. But I think when you start going further… from that, it starts to get a little absurd.”

What do you believe is your best policy achievement as mayor?

“I think the best thing you can say, and it’s less policy and more spirit, is that we’ve taken a city that used to be disregarded, disrespected, and just plain dissed, that was losing population, losing tax base, losing business, and now we’ve reversed those trends. Now people really have a lot of respect for Newark. First time in 60 years our population is growing. Our tax base is growing. The first new hotels in our downtown in 40 years. First new office towers in decades. So creating jobs at a pretty dramatic clip for our residents.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama: We're Better Off Today than Four Years Ago

ABC/Rick Rowell(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- As some Democrats waver over whether the country is “better off today than four years ago,” first lady Michelle Obama told ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer her answer is yes, and that Americans “are growing to understand just how much we’ve accomplished.”

The first lady pointed to the end of the war in Iraq, a planned departure from Afghanistan, and an economy “on the brink of collapse,” that’s “now consistently creating jobs.”

During an interview in Charlotte, the first lady also touted President Obama’s health care reform law.

“Our grandparents can afford their medicine,” she said.  “Our kids can stay on our health care until they’re 26 years old. I could go on and on and on.”

Democrats would like nothing more. Michelle Obama is, with former President Bill Clinton, among the party’s most popular figures. She also may be the president’s most powerful campaign surrogate.

“I didn’t think it was possible,” she said during her convention speech Tuesday night, “but, today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago, even more than I did 23 years ago.”

Tune in to ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline tonight to see Sawyer’s full interview with Michelle Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Laura Bush on Skipping GOP Convention, Commitment to AIDS Initiatives

Martin H. Simon / ABC(WASHINGTON) -- You won’t see former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush at the Republican National convention this year. He’s not attending and that’s just fine with his wife, who told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl today the couple is done with politics.

But that doesn’t mean they’re out of public life. Laura Bush outlined key initiatives she and her husband will continue to work on and she made a pitch for the importance of foreign aid, a budget item many recently elected Republicans would like to see cut.

Missing the GOP Convention in Tampa next month won’t be a big deal, according to Laura Bush, who pointed out that she and the former president gave a pep talk to Mitt Romney’s staff in Boston on Tuesday. And she said it’s not hard for her or her husband to stay on the sidelines even as Democrats criticize his legacy.

“We know what politics is like,” she said. “We know that, you know, people love to blame somebody else.  That’s just a fact of life in politics…I think George makes an easy target.”

“It doesn’t bother us,” she said.

Her advice to Ann Romney is to enjoy the campaign and getting to travel around the country and meet people. But she said the campaigns should avoid attacks on the spouses of the candidates.

“I’m sorry that first ladies are being attacked.  I don’t think they– I don’t think I ever was really, or at least if I was, George didn’t ever tell me about it,” she said.

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While Americans can view politics as divisive and full of personal attacks, Laura Bush, 65, said she looks back on politics–what she called “a people business”–fondly.

“Of course when you watch from the sidelines, you think it must be horrible,” she said.  ”But it’s not.  And politics is a people business.  And if you like people, you know, it’s a really fun thing to do.  But on the other hand–we can stay involved through the Bush Institute with the policy areas that are the most important to us.  And be out of politics.  And that’s pretty great too.”

True to her word, the former first lady brushed aside a question about her policy differences with her husband and the Republican Party.

“Well, I don’t know.  And I’m not going to get into that political issue.  And in fact I can’t believe you asked it,” she said with a laugh.

The focus of their time out of the White House, she said, will be building off the success of the PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief) and continuing to work to fight AIDS in Africa and worldwide. President Bush worked to pledge $15 billion in American tax dollars to the program as president and now gets bipartisan kudos for the effort. He and Laura recently completed a trip to Africa where they helped bring attention to the issue and even got in some manual labor, painting a rural health clinic in Zambia.

“George of course still has the convening power of any former president of the U.S.  And– that’s why we can– now spend the– rest of our lives with the Bush Institute in Dallas, working on issues that were important to us when he was president.  We’re out of politics, but we’re still interested in policy and– and global health, obviously.”

They also plan initiatives through the Bush Institute dealing with education reform, human freedom and economic growth. Laura Bush said they will build off their work on AIDS to help women in developing countries screen for cervical cancer.

It’s hard to imagine Congress today with the long-stagnant economy and the emphasis of the Tea Party – enacting a $15 billion foreign aid bill, but Mrs. Bush said she’s confident that money would still be approved.

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“Foreign aid is a very miniscule part of our budget.  I don’t think people realize how small it is.  I think it’s only 1 percent,” she said, later adding, “I think there’s a very strong coalition in Congress who know that it’s in our moral interest as a country– the wealthiest country in the world and we still are the wealthiest country in the world– to help other people if we can.  If we have the capacity to help.”

ABC News played for her its interview with Elton John, where the liberal singer and AIDS activist gave the former Republican president high marks on PEPFAR and working to combat the spread of AIDS.

Laura said her husband should get credit for making the issue a priority. But she said all Americans should be proud.

“It isn’t George.  I mean, George did think of it and his administration did work on it for a long time to figure– to see if it really was feasible, to be able to reach that many people in Africa.  But– but it’s the American taxpayer who funded it.  And Americans should be very, very proud.”

This week Laura Bush is set to address the International AIDS Conference, which is being held in the U.S. for the first time in 22 years.

“The goal is that each of these countries will be able to develop the health infrastructure.  So that they’ll be self-sustaining.  And so that this– help that comes from the American people and from people around the world, through the global fund, won’t be necessary some day.”

“I think in the United States, about 600,000 people have died of AIDS,” said Laura Bush. “And of course, across Africa, many millions of people.  And across the world, the– the new hot spots for AIDS and the pandemic are Asia now and maybe even in the Middle East, They’re much more closed, and there’s much more stigma still associated with it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Marco Rubio ‘Honored’ By Tea Party’s VP Nod

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Marco Rubio today got the nod to be the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee — from the nation’s largest Tea Party group, not Mitt Romney.

The Florida senator — the only Republican whom Romney has confirmed is being vetted for a No. 2 spot on the ticket — was the top preferred choice of thousands of surveyed Tea Party Express members, the group announced today.

“It is not a big surprise that Marco Rubio is the favorite candidate of the tea party for the vice-presidential nod.  He ran as a strong fiscal conservative, and he has delivered with his record in the U.S. Senate for the last two years,” said the group’s president Amy Kremer in a statement. “The only surprise is that he led the other excellent candidates by such a wide margin.”

Others named included Reps. Paul Ryan and Allen West, former senator Rick Santorum, and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Asked about the “nomination” by ABC News, Rubio gushed about his affinity for the tea party movement.

“I’m always honored by my association with the tea party,” he said in an exclusive interview with ABC News Radio’s Ann Compton.

“I think the tea party has been a very positive movement for America. The tea party is not a partisan group. Somehow people think the tea party is a Republican movement. There are a lot of Republicans in the tea party, but what I’ve found is that the tea party movement are people that are just as upset at the Republican Party as they are the Democratic Party,” he said.

“You don’t run a $15, $16 trillion debt without some bipartisan cooperation… Unfortunately one party is in charge now at the White House and taking us in that wrong direction even faster than before, and they’re just looking for people who will come up here and stand up to that and offer a clear alternative.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ABC News Exclusive: President Obama Affirms His Support for Same-Sex Marriage

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced Wednesday that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.

In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an “evolution” that led him to this place, based on conversations with his own staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and conversations with his wife and own daughters.

"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage -- at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Roberts, in an interview to appear on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday. Excerpts of the interview will air tonight on ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer.

The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. But he said he’s confident that more Americans will grow comfortable with gays and lesbians getting married, citing his own daughters’ comfort with the concept.

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president continued. “You know, when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, sexual orientation that they believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

Roberts asked the president if first lady Michelle Obama was involved in this decision. Obama said she was, and he talked specifically about his own faith in responding.

“This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.”

Previously, Obama has moved in the direction of supporting same-sex marriage but has consistently stopped short of outright backing it.

[ VIEW SLIDESHOW: "Timeline: Key Moments in Fight for Gay Rights" ]

Instead, he’s voiced support for civil unions for gay and lesbian couples that provide the rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples, though not defined as “marriage.” At the same time, the president has opposed efforts to ban gay marriage at the state level, saying that he did not favor attempts to strip rights away from gay and lesbian couples.

The president’s position became a flashpoint this week, when Vice President Joe Biden pronounced himself “absolutely comfortable” with allowing same-sex couples to wed.

Obama aides insisted there was no daylight between the positions held by the president and his vice president when it comes to legal rights.  However, as other prominent Democrats also weighed in in favor of gay marriage, the disconnect became difficult for the White House to explain away.

The announcement completes a turnabout for the president, who has opposed gay marriage throughout his career in national politics. In 1996, as a state Senate candidate, he indicated support for gay marriage in a questionnaire, but Obama aides later disavowed it and said it did not reflect the candidate’s position.

In 2004, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he cited his own religion in framing his views: “I'm a Christian. I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

He maintained that position through his 2008 presidential campaign and through his term as president, until today.

As president in 2010, Obama told ABC’s Jake Tapper that his feelings about gay marriage were “constantly evolving. I struggle with this.” A year later, the president told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “I’m still working on it.”

“I probably won't make news right now, George,” Obama said in October 2011. “But I think that there's no doubt that as I see friends, families, children of gay couples who are thriving, you know, that has an impact on how I think about these issues.”

Obama’s decision has political connotations for the fall. The issue divides elements of the Democratic base, with liberals and gay-rights groups eager to see the president go farther, but with gay marriage far less popular among African-American voters.

Just yesterday in North Carolina, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage. President Obama carried North Carolina in 2008, and its status as a 2012 battleground was guaranteed by the Democratic party's decision to hold their convention in Charlotte this summer.

Obama’s likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, opposes gay marriage, and fought his state’s highest court when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004, while Romney was governor. Romney said on the campaign trail Monday that he continues to oppose gay marriage.

“My view is that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “That’s the position I’ve had for some time, and I don’t intend to make any adjustments at this point. … Or ever, by the way.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Timeline of Obama’s ‘Evolving’ on Same-Sex Marriage

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will sit down with ABC’s Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts on Wednesday at the White House for a wide-ranging interview, his first since Vice President Joe Biden publicly voiced his support for same-sex marriage and North Carolina voters imposed a new ban on all same-sex unions.

Asked Tuesday whether Obama was prepared to opine on the debate, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “I can tell you that I’m sure it is the case that he will be asked again at some point when he gives interviews or press conferences about this issue, and I’ll leave it to him to describe his personal views.”

Here’s a look back at the various positions he has held on the issue -- from appearing to support the unions as a young state senate candidate, opposing them outright as a matter of faith in 2004, to suggesting a shift in line with public opinion:

FEBRUARY 1996: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages,” reads a typed, signed statement from then-Illinois state senate candidate Obama in response to a questionnaire by the Chicago LGBT newspaper Outlines.  White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer later publicly disavowed the statement, claiming in June 2011 that the questionnaire was “actually filled out by someone else.”

OCTOBER 2004: “What I believe is that marriage is between a man and a woman … What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and it’s not simply the two persons who are meeting,” then-U.S. Senate candidate Obama said in an interview with WTTW Chicago public television.

“That doesn’t mean that that necessarily translates into a position on public policy or with respect to civil unions. What it does mean is that we have a set of traditions in place that, I think, need to be preserved, but I also think we need to make sure that gays and lesbians have the same set of basic rights that are in place.

“I don’t think marriage is a civil right,” Obama said when asked whether there’s an inherent right to marry.

OCTOBER 2010: “I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage,” President Obama said during an interview with liberal bloggers. “But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships.”

DECEMBER 2010: “My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this. At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have,” Obama said in response to a question from ABC’s Jake Tapper at a White House press conference.

“I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward,” he said.

JUNE 2011: “The president has never favored same-sex marriage. He is against it. The country is evolving on this, and he is evolving on it,” Pfeiffer told progressive activists at the Net Roots Nation conference.

JUNE 2011: “I think it’s important for us to work through these issues because each community is going to be different, each state is going to be different,” Obama said when asked during a White House news conference about New York becoming the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I think what you’re seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they’ve got to be treated like every other American,” he said. “And I think that principle will win out. It’s not going to be perfectly smooth, and it turns out that the president — I’ve discovered since I’ve been in this office — can’t dictate precisely how this process moves.”

OCTOBER 2011: “I’m still working on it,” Obama said when asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos whether he would move from supporting civil unions for same-sex couples to supporting gay marriage.

“I probably won’t make news right now, George. But I think that there’s no doubt that as I see friends, families children of gay couples who are thriving, you know, that has an impact on how I think about these issues.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Talks Politics, Pop Culture With "Rolling Stone"

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After a week of interviews and speeches aimed at courting young voters, President Obama has taken his message to the cover of Rolling Stone.

In a wide-ranging interview that hits newsstands Friday, the president talks about everything from election-year politics to foreign policy to Mick Jagger.

With the general election fight under way, Obama stays largely on message and refuses to take any direct stabs at presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney, but makes it clear his Republican rival will not be able to avoid the positions he’s been promoting on the campaign trail.

“I don’t think that their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, ‘Everything I’ve said for the last six months, I didn’t mean.’ I’m assuming that he meant it. When you’re running for president, people are paying attention to what you’re saying,” he tells Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner.

Heading into November, the president says his burden is to explain how his administration’s policies will give Americans the economic security they are looking for.

“There’s understandable skepticism, because things are still tough out there,” Obama says. “The fact of the matter is that times are still tough for too many people, and the recovery is still not as robust as we’d like, and that’s what will make it a close election. It’s not because the other side has a particularly persuasive theory in terms of how they’re going to move this country forward.”

Moving on to pop culture, the president dishes about hanging out with singer Mick Jagger and explains why he thinks The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart is “brilliant.”

“It’s amazing to me the degree to which he’s able to cut through a bunch of the nonsense, for young people in particular, where I think he ends up having more credibility than a lot of more conventional news programs do,” says the president, who admits to not watching a lot of TV.

When it comes to rocking 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Obama recalls spending 45 minutes watching Jagger rehearse for his White House concert in February and how  impressed he was with the respect the rock legend showed for the younger musicians around him. “It was great fun, just watching them work through stuff. And he had unbelievable energy. I tell you, that guy, when he performed the next night, he was as energized as he’s ever been.”

The president is also far from modest about his own vocal skills. “I can sing. I wasn’t worried about being able to hit those notes,” he says of his now famous rendition of the Al Green classic “Let’s Stay Together” at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. “The only problem with my Apollo performance is that everywhere I go now, somebody wants me to sing. My whole point is that the fewer the performances, the higher the ticket price, so you don’t want to overdo it,” he says.

The president’s Rolling Stone interview caps a week of outreach to young voters that included a stop by NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and visits to college campuses in three critical battleground states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


ABC News Exclusive: Gingrich’s Ex-Wife Says He Wanted Open Marriage

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as president, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage.

In her first television interview since the 1999 divorce, to be broadcast tonight on ABC’s Nightline, Marianne Gingrich, a self-described conservative Republican, said she is coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about her former husband and Speaker of the House.

Watch a preview of ABC News' exclusive broadcast interview with Marianne Gingrich below, and then catch the full interview tonight on ABC News' Nightline at 11:35 p.m. ET.

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In her most provocative comments, the ex-Mrs. Gingrich said Newt sought an "open marriage" arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife.

She said when Gingrich admitted to a six-year affair with a Congressional aide, he asked her if she would share him with the other woman, Callista, who is now married to Gingrich.

"And I just stared at him and he said, 'Callista doesn't care what I do,'" Marianne Gingrich told ABC News. "He wanted an open marriage and I refused."

Marianne described her "shock" at Gingrich's behavior, including how she says she learned he conducted his affair with Callista "in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington."

"He always called me at night," she recalled, "and always ended with 'I love you.' Well, she was listening."

All this happened, she said, during the same time Gingrich condemned President Bill Clinton for his lack of moral leadership.

She said Newt moved for the divorce just months after she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, with her then-husband present.

"He also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress. He knew," she said.

Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, as she was being treated for cancer. His relationship with Marianne began while he was still married to Jackie but in divorce proceedings, Marianne said.

There was no immediate comment from Gingrich on his ex-wife's allegations. Gingrich has said during the campaign he has "no relationship" with Marianne.

While she had been quoted earlier as saying she could end his career, Marianne Gingrich defended Newt's ethics while he served in Congress and came under several ethics investigations.

"At the time, I believed him to be ethical," she said in the interview.

The former Mrs. Gingrich says Newt began to plan a run for President at the time of the divorce and told her that Callista "was going to help him become President."

In a statement to ABC News provided by the campaign, Gingrich's two daughters from his first marriage said, "The failure of a marriage is a terrible and emotional experience for everyone involved."

The daughters, Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman said they would not say anything negative about Marianne and said their father, "regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves."

Marianne Gingrich said Newt has never expressed any such regrets or apologized to her.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


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 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

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