Obama Discusses Range of Topics During Sit-Down With Washington Post

Friday, January 16, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama answered questions o n a range of topics during his 70-minute sit-down with Washington Post reporters and editors.

On Hillary Rodham Clinton:

"I think that Hillary Clinton is as smart, as tough and as capable as any public servant we have. She has an extraordinary grasp of foreign policy and interest in foreign policy. I like having smart, tough people around me. I also think that she operates with great precision, great personal discipline, which I thought would be well-suited to the secretary o f state's office.

"And I know that there was a lot written after the announcement of the appointment about 'team of rivals.' The truth of the matter is I actually think that Hillary Clinton is very much a team player."

On foreign policy:

"We're going to need to have -- we have to end an approach that sees all the various problems in the Middle East as discrete, you know, so that we have got an Afghanistan policy and we have got a Pakistan policy, and the Pakistan and Afghanistan policies aren't integrated, or we have got an Iran policy and an Iraq policy and a Syria policy and they are all off in differe nt directions.

"I think one of the principles that we'll be operating under is that these things are very much related and that if we have got an integrated approach, we're going to be more effective."

On the pace of congressional action:

"One of the things I have discovered since coming to Washington as a member of the Senate is that things move very slowly here. I think when I was -- my last year in the [Illinois] state Senate, I passed -- me personally -- 26 significant pieces of legislation that year. And there's a four-month session.

"I mean, this included, you know, racial-profiling legislation, reforming the death penalty, Open Meetings Act -- 26 of them. You know, if you get five major pieces of legislation out of Congress, you're doing pretty good over the last several years.

"I think both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are deeply committed to accelerating that, but even in terms of the stimulus act, some people were saying, 'Oh, you know, this thing got slowed down. He originally said we would try to do this by Inauguration Day and now it might slip to, you know, Presidents' Day.' I mean, that's a herculean effort to just get all the stuff scheduled that needs to be scheduled."

© 2009 The Washington Post Company