President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sat down with CBS’s Charlie Rose for an interview broadcast on Monday morning in which he talked about “breaking the fever in Washington,” but ultimately said the American people needed to decide if they want a “sharply ideological shift by the Republicans.”
“My wonderful secretary of state, when I was running against her in the primary, Hillary would, I think, tease me sometimes saying, ‘Just because you say you want to work with Republicans, let me tell you, I’ve been through this and they may not always want to work with you,’” Obama said.
“And I think that, because I knew the hunger that the American people had for that kind of cooperation and the fact that we were going through as tough a crisis as we’ve seen since the Great Depression, my expectation was that we would see more cooperation,” Obama said. “But, having said that, the basic notion that we are not Democrats or Republicans first, we’re Americans first, and that most of the problems that we face are solvable, not in some ideological way, but in a practical, common sense American way, that I believe as much as ever, I think as much as the American people.”
“The challenge for me is not so much that I’ve lost faith in the capacity for America coming together. The frustration I have now is that we still have to break the fever here in Washington so that this town operates and reflects the values that are shared by people all across the country,” Obama said. “We’ve got to stop thinking in purely political terms about who’s on top, who gets advantage.”
“I do think that the American people are the ultimate tiebreaker. That’s our democracy. They can break the fever,” Obama said. “The American people have to decide whether a sharply ideological shift by the Republicans is what they want, and it may be. Or whether the traditional balanced, responsible approach that we’re taking is the one that will most likely lead to prosperity for the most people.”
“Hope is still there,” Michelle Obama said. “Hope doesn’t get actualized in three and a half years. If that were the case, we’d be out of luck as a country. People still need to grasp onto something important and they need a leader and a message and a set of possibilities for their lives.”
When Rose asked Obama about his proudest achievement, if it was the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Obama said, “You know my proudest achievement is actually stabilizing the economy to avert a Great Depression, because if I don’t do that, nothing else matters. Now we’re not where we need to be. And you’re right, the unemployment rate is way too high to where I want it to be. And a lot of folks are still hurting and struggling out there, but the fact of the matter is, is that we were able to stop a hemorrhaging of jobs.”
The most recent Gallup poll shows Barack Obama 2 percentage points ahead of his Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 47 to 45 percent.
Watch the video, broadcast on CBS This Morning on July 16.