The much anticipated encounter between the leader of the free world, President Obama and the highest rated cable news host, Fox News Channel titan Bill O’Reilly took place and no subject was off limits. For the first half of the interview, the conversation between Obama and O’Reilly was slightly contentious on the topics of Egypt and healthcare reform, yet in the second half of the interview O’Reilly encouraged Obama to be introspective and analyze what was the worst part about being President and how the office has changed him personally.
Obama and O’Reilly seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the live discussion, even during moments of disagreement. Most surprising though was O’Reilly’s announcement that today’s fifteen minute interview is only the beginning, as O’Reilly announced that Obama agreed to answer additional questions that will be shown on tomorrow night’s The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel. Given how loose and comfortable Obama looked here, even despite O’Reilly’s occasional interruption to keep the President’s answers more brief than usual, it seems likely that many viewers will eagerly anticipate the next part of this showdown.
Watch the clip from FOX below:
Full Transcript below (Via Fox News):
BILL O’REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. President, thank you very much for
doing this. And I must thank you on behalf of the FOX News Channel for
helping out Greg Palkot and Mr. Wiig who got roughed up in Cairo. That
was you, it was Robert Gibbs, and the State Department, who really saved
them — and we all thank you very much.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, listen, those guys
showed enormous courage, as so many journalists do around the world.
And so, not only was it important for us to make sure they were safe for
them and their families, but to uphold the basic principle of free
speech and freedom of the press. That’s a universal value we cared
about. And I know FOX cares about. So, I’m just glad these guys are —
O’REILLY: Those guys could have died.
O’REILLY: And I just want everybody to know that, you know, the State
Department really saved them.
All right. Mubarak, is he going to leave soon?
OBAMA: Well, he’s — only he knows what he’s going to do.
But here’s what we know: is that Egypt is not going to go back to what
it was. The Egyptian people want freedom. They want free and fair
elections. They want a representative government. They want a
And so, what we’ve said is: you have to start a transition now. Mubarak
has already decided he’s not running for re-election again. His term is
up this year. And what we’ve said is: let’s make sure that you get all
the groups together in Egypt, let Egyptian people make a determination
on what’s the process for an orderly transition, but one that is a
meaningful transition and that leads to a government that’s —
O’REILLY: So, you don’t know when he’s going to leave?
OBAMA: Well, you know, ultimately, the United States can’t absolute
O’REILLY: You can’t force him to leave.
OBAMA: But what we can do, Bill, is we can say that, “The time is now
for you to start making a change in that country.”
O’REILLY: He’s already done that. But the longer he stays in, the more
people are going to die. And the other problem is, Mubarak knows a lot
of bad things about the United States. I’m sure you’re aware of that.
OBAMA: Well, let me say this: the United States and Egypt have been a
partner for a long time.
O’REILLY: Right. He’s done the bad things.
OBAMA: He’s been a good partner when it comes to the peace with Israel.
There have been counterterrorism efforts that he’s been very supported
of. But we’ve also said consistently said to him both publicly and
privately is that trying to suppress your own people is something that
is not sustainable. And part of the message that I think we’re seeing
all around the world is, when you resort to suppression, when you resort
to violence, that does not work.
O’REILLY: Yes, but it worked for 30 years. So, he had his run. But he
knows a lot of bad things about us, rendition and all of that. And I’m
sure you know that. So, I’m just worried that he might go off the
The Muslim Brotherhood, a great concern to a lot of people. Are they a
threat to the USA?
OBAMA: I think that the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt.
They don’t have majority support in Egypt. They are —
O’REILLY: Are they a threat?
OBAMA: But they are well-organized and there are strains of their
ideology that are anti-U.S. There’s no doubt about it. But here’s the
thing that we have to understand, there are a whole bunch of secular
folks in Egypt, there are a whole bunch of educators and civil society
in Egypt that wants to come to the fore as well. And it’s important for
us not the say that our only two options are either the Muslim
Brotherhood or a suppressed Egyptian people.
O’REILLY: But you don’t wan the Muslim Brotherhood…
OBAMA: What I want a representative government in Egypt. And I have
confidence that if Egypt moves in an orderly transition process, that we
will have a government in Egypt that we can work with together as a partner.
O’REILLY: I hope so. Those are tough boys, the Muslim Brotherhood. I
wouldn’t want them anywhere near that government. Federal judge in
Florida said, your health care law is unconstitutional. The Supreme
Court may follow on that, it’s going to be very close. Are you prepared
for that law to go down?
OBAMA: Well, I think the judge in Florida was wrong. Keep in mind that
we’ve had 12 judges said — that just threw this case out — the notion
that the health care law was unconstitutional.
O’REILLY: But it goes to the Supremes now.
OBAMA: Well, it first it goes to the appellate court — there’s
district court, then there are appeal courts, and then it goes to the
Supreme Court. But here’s the key point, Bill, and I said this in the
State of the Union, I don’t want to spend the next two years refighting
the battles of the last two years.
O’REILLY: Yeah, but you’re going have to.
OBAMA: Well, I don’t think that’s…
O’REILLY: The Supreme Court is going to hear this one way or the other.
OBAMA: What the American have said is we want cost controls in health
care, we want security in health care. What I’ve said to the
Republicans is if you have ideas in terms of improving the health care
system, if you have ideas that I can embrace on things like…
O’REILLY: They’re not going to bother with it, though. They’re going
wait until it goes to the court and hope it thrown out 5-4. My question
is are you prepared if it gets thrown out? What are you going to do?
OBAMA: Here’s what I’m not prepared to do, I’m not prepared to go back
to a day when the American people if you have got a pre-existing
condition, if you had a heart attack then you can’t get help.
O’REILLY: Here’s what the Wall Street Journal said, I want you to react
to this. Mr. Obama is a determined man of the left whose goal is to
redistribute much larger levels of income across society. He may give
tactical ground when he has to, as he did on taxes to avoid a middle
class tax increase, but he will resist to his last day any major
changes to Obamacare and the other load-bearing walls of the entitlement
This is The Wall Street Journal you know painting you as pretty
left-wing guy. Are you going to go along?
OBAMA: Well, the Wall Street Journal probably would paint you as a
left-wing guy. I mean, if you’re talking about the Wall Street Journal
O’REILLY: I’ve got to tell you, that’s what this is.
OBAMA: You know, that’s like quoting the New York Times editorial…
O’REILLY: Do you deny the assessment? Do you deny that you are a man
who wants to redistribute wealth.
O’REILLY: You deny that?
OBAMA: Absolutely. I didn’t raise taxes once, I lowered taxes over the
last two years.
O’REILLY: But the entitlements that you championed do redistribute
wealth in the sense that they provide insurance coverage for 40 million
people that don’t have it.
OBAMA: What is absolutely true is I think in this country, there’s no
reason why, if you get sick you should go bankrupt. The notion that
that’s a radical principle, I don’t think the majority of people would
agree with you.
O’REILLY: Then why do the majority people in the polls not support
OBAMA: Actually, I think it’s pretty evenly divided.
O’REILLY: It’s close.
OBAMA: It’s evenly divided, Bill. And here’s what I think a lot of
people saw, over the last two years, at a time when people were
concerned about the economy and about jobs, what they saw was a lot of
arguing in congress, which is what they always see is a lot of arguing
in congress. And they don’t like the process and they felt that our
focus wasn’t on what they’re focused on, which is how to win the future,
how to make sure that jobs are right here in the United States of
America. How are we building a competitive society at a time when we’re
O’REILLY: Yeah, some people see it that way, but other people see it’s
a huge government intrusion and you guy just want to take over,
basically, decision making for Americans. It’s an ideological argument.
OBAMA: But, Bill, I just want to be clear about this, because if you
look what we have done, what we said was, if you have health care that
you like, you keep it.
O’REILLY: I know all that. I listen to it every day.
OBAMA: I know. And I listen to you. And what I hear you saying, Bill,
for example, is that the notion that us saying to people that don’t have
health insurance, don’t make me pay for your health insurance, if you
get sick, you have a responsibility to make sure that you have got
coverage. There’s nothing socialist about that, that’s saying to
Americans, we’re going each of us be responsible for our own health
care. And that’s something that I think that the majority of Americans…
O’REILLY: OK, but you understand that a lot of Americans feel you’re a
big government liberal who wants to intrude on their personal freedom.
Now, they also say that you have been moving — now, that’s — come on,
you know that…
OBAMA: I think that a lot of folks who watch you don’t believe that.
O’REILLY: They think way worse than me.
OBAMA: And I give you credit, you’ve got a pretty big viewership, so
you can be persuasive.
O’REILLY: But the pundits now say you’re moving to the center to raise
your approval, is that true, are you moving to the center?
O’REILLY: No? Because we were set up over there, and then they moved
you a little to the center.
OBAMA: (Laughs) Here’s what I think is true. Over the first two years
of my presidency, we had a complete disaster. Right? We had a complete
crisis. The financial markets were breaking down. We were slipping
into a Great Depression. And we had to take a bunch of extraordinary
steps in order to make sure that the economy was growing again, which it
is now, growing. Making sure that the private sector was creating jobs
again. It’s now doing that.
And now our focus is not on refighting the battle of the last two years…
O’REILLY: So you’re not moving to the center?
OBAMA: I haven’t — I didn’t move to…
O’REILLY: You haven’t moved anywhere? You’re the same guy?
OBAMA: I’m the same guy. My practical focus, my common-sense focus
right now is how to we out-innovate, out-educate, out-building,
out-compete the rest of the world? How do we create jobs here in the
United States of America? How do we make sure that businesses are
thriving? But how do we also — making sure that ordinary Americans can
live out the American dream?
O’REILLY: Listen, I hope you can do it.
OBAMA: Because right now, they don’t feel like they are.
O’REILLY: I hope you can do it.
OBAMA: I know you do.
O’REILLY: Americans need to be secure in their lives.
OK. Worst part of this job? What’s the worst, absolute worst part of
being president of the United States?
OBAMA: Worst part of the job is, first of all, I’ve got a jacket on on
Super Bowl Sunday.
O’REILLY: That’s true.
OBAMA: If I wasn’t president, that would not be happening.
O’REILLY: I have a tie. You don’t have a tie.
OBAMA: The biggest problem for me is being in the bubble. It’s very
hard to escape. You know, you can’t go to the corner…
O’REILLY: Everybody watching every move you make.
OBAMA: Every move you make. And you — over time, you know, what
happens is you feel like — that you’re not able to just have a
spontaneous conversation with folks.
OBAMA: And that’s a loss. That’s a big loss.
O’REILLY: What is it about the job that has surprised you the most?
That you weren’t prepared for coming in here?
OBAMA: You know, I think that the thing you understand intellectually,
but you don’t understand in your gut until you’re in the job, is that
every decision that comes to my desk is something that nobody else has
been able to solve. The easy stuff gets solved somewhere by somebody
else. By the time it gets to me, you don’t have easy answers. You
don’t have the best…
O’REILLY: So it’s like wave after wave of complicated problems and
there you are.
OBAMA: Complicated problems. Yes. And well, you have to make your
best judgment about this is probably our best approach for the American
people. But you know that you don’t have perfect information, and you
know that you’re not going to have a perfect solution.
O’REILLY: Give it your best shot.
Now, people who know you have told me that you’ve changed a little bit
since you’ve become president.
OBAMA: Well, I’m a lot grayer. That’s for sure.
O’REILLY: Every president does. But have you — do you think you have
changed as a person since you have become president?
OBAMA: I think if you asked Michelle, who knows me best, I think — or
my closest friends, I think they’d say I’m basically the same guy as
when I came in.
O’REILLY: Can I tell you what they say?
OBAMA: What do they say?
O’REILLY: You’re much more guarded.
OBAMA: Well, I think what is true is that, when you’re in this job,
everything you say could affect markets. It could affect…
O’REILLY: I know that. Even on a personal level. Some people who know
you say, you know, he’s not — he doesn’t have the — the — he’s not as
light as he used to be; he’s not as spontaneous.
OBAMA: Well, that — look…
OBAMA: I would say — I would say that’s probably true. I mean, look,
there’s no doubt that the weight of the office has an impact.
But I will tell you that the longer I’m in this job, the more I enjoy
it. The more optimistic I am about the American people. The more
optimistic I am about this country. There’s something about this
position that gives you a pretty good vantage point of the country as a
whole. And for all the arguing that we get into and all the debates
between Democrats and Republicans…
O’REILLY: A tremendous country. Right? It is.
OBAMA: There’s just a sense — there’s a common sense and a decency to
the American people that makes me optimistic even on the worst of days.
O’REILLY: I asked this to President Bush when I talked to him a few
weeks ago. Does it disturb you that so many people hate you? No. I
mean, it’s a serious question.
OBAMA: You know, the truth is, that the people — and I’m sure previous
presidents would say the same thing, whether it was Bush or Clinton or
Reagan or anybody. The people who dislike you don’t know you.
O’REILLY: They hate you.
OBAMA: Even — the folks who hate you, they don’t know you.
O’REILLY: That’s true.
OBAMA: What they hate is whatever funhouse mirror image of you that’s
out there. And they don’t know you. And so, you don’t take it
O’REILLY: No. You don’t ever?
OBAMA: No. Because you know that if you just…
O’REILLY: Doesn’t it annoy you sometimes?
OBAMA: You know, look, I think that by the time you get here, you have
to have had a pretty thick skin. If you didn’t, then you probably
wouldn’t have gotten here.
O’REILLY: FOX Sports has the Super Bowl tonight. You know, they’re
charging an enormous amount of money for it. And they’re going to make
a fortune. They pay all my expenses here. Who’s going to win the game?
Come on! Come on, come on.
OBAMA: Bill, here’s the thing. Once my Bears lost, I don’t pick sides.
O’REILLY: So, you don’t care?
OBAMA: Well, I do care. I want — I want a great game. I want a great
O’REILLY: You don’t care who wins?
OBAMA: But these are pretty evenly matched teams. You know, I think
that, you know, Green Bay is probably a little faster. Steelers got a
little more experience. I think the Steelers not having their starting
center is something they’ve got to be worried about.
O’REILLY: Now, will you actually watch the game?
O’REILLY: Because I know there’s a party here. J. Lo is going to be
here, which is why I have to get out of here because I’ll frighten her
if she comes in.
OBAMA: You’re invited there.
O’REILLY: No, I know I’m not.
OBAMA: You have to take off the tie.
O’REILLY: I don’t want the ruin the party for you guys.
OBAMA: You know, barbecue —
O’REILLY: But are you going to watch the game? Are you going to —
OBAMA: Of course. I’ll watch the game.
O’REILLY: Are you going to sit and you’re going to watch?
OBAMA: I’m not going to —
O’REILLY: You know, like, football, you know, like, blitzes and
coverage and all that?
OBAMA: Oh, I know football, man.
O’REILLY: You do?
O’REILLY: I know you’re a basketball guy.
OBAMA: I know football.
OBAMA: I know football and I will watch the game. What happens is I
schmooze with everybody when they come.
OBAMA: Give them a little bit of time. But once the game starts, they
can just sit and watch the game.
O’REILLY: And you’re out there?
OBAMA: Well, no, I’ll be sitting there with them, but I don’t want them
coming up chitting and chatting.
O’REILLY: All right.
OBAMA: We got to focus on football.
O’REILLY: Well, that’s our live part of this deal. And I have to say,
I enjoyed talking to you. I disagree with you sometimes. I hope you
think I’m fair to you, I try to be. But I wish you well in the next two
OBAMA: Bill, it’s always a pleasure. I enjoyed it.
O’REILLY: It’s nice to see you.
OBAMA: Thank you so much.
O’REILLY: And we are going have more with the president, by the way, on
THE FACTOR starting on Monday, going to do a little bit more Q and A.
So, enjoy the game.
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