April 21, 2008
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR

   

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA RESPONDS TO CAMPAIGN AD,
DEFENDS SECOND AMENDMENT IN D.C. HANDGUN BAN
ON NPR NEWS ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
TODAY, MONDAY, APRIL 21

TRANSCRIPT BELOW; AUDIO TO BE AVAILABLE AT 7:00PM (ET)


April 21, 2008; Washington, D.C. – Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, responding to a current campaign ad for his opponent Senator Hillary Clinton that asks ‘Who do you think has what it takes?,’ tells NPR host Melissa Block: “I think the answer is Barack Obama. That may not be the answer she was looking for.”

Sen. Obama continues: “I think that on critical issues of both domestic and foreign-policy, Senator Clinton has generally embraced the conventional view. She has oftentimes gone along with the politics of the moment. And, as a consequence, I don’t think she’s equipped to actually bring about the changes that are needed to bring different results when it comes to both domestic and foreign policy.” The interview is airing tonight on NPR News’ All Things Considered.

On whether he can win tomorrow’s primary in Pennsylvania, Sen. Obama says: “I wouldn’t be campaigning here if I didn’t think that we could win, but there’s no doubt that she had a big advantage here to start with. She comes from a border state that shares a media market with Philadelphia. She has the support of a very popular Democratic governor, but that’s why it’s hard to extrapolate from what happens during a primary. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Governor Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, will be pushing hard on my behalf come the general election. The same is true in Ohio with Governor Ted Strickland. So we feel very confident about our ability to win in November and I feel confident that we’ll do just fine tomorrow.”

On the Washington, D.C., law banning handgun ownership, Sen. Obama says: “As a constitutional matter, the second amendment probably should recognize an individual’s right to own firearms. But just because you have an individual right doesn’t mean that the public at large doesn’t also have a countervailing right to protect the public safety. I mean, we all have rights to own private property, but that doesn’t mean that zoning laws are unconstitutional.”

A full transcript follows. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News All Things Considered. Television usage must include on-screen NPR News credit with NPR logo. The audio of the interview will be available at approximately 7:00PM (ET) at www.NPR.org

All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon news magazine, reaches nearly 11.5 million listeners weekly, and is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris and Robert Siegel. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations



--NPR--


MELISSA BLOCK: From NPR news, this is All Things Considered. I’m Melissa Block. First this hour, a conversation with Senator Barack Obama. He and his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, campaigned across Pennsylvania today on the eve of tomorrow’s primary there. Pennsylvania is a key contest. Obama is spending heavily, and hopes to drive Senator Clinton out of the Democratic race. Nationally, he leads in both the popular vote and in pledged delegates. Clinton is playing up doubts about Obama’s readiness to be president. I spoke with Barack Obama earlier today. We reached him on him cell phone. Senator Obama, welcome back to the program.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): Thank you so much for having me.

MS. BLOCK: Senator Obama, the most recent Hillary Clinton ad running in Pennsylvania talks about the president needing to be ready for anything and it shows images of the stock-market crash and Pearl Harbor. There’s an image of Osama bin Laden and it quotes Harry Truman.

(Begin audio clip.)

You need to be ready for anything, especially now with two wars, oil prices skyrocketing, and an economy in crisis. Harry Truman said it best, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Who do you think has what it takes?

(End audio clip.)

“Who do you think has what it takes?” is the tagline. What’s your response to that ad?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I think the answer is Barack Obama. That may not be the answer she was looking for.

MS. BLOCK: Has what it takes?

SEN. OBAMA: I think that on critical issues of both domestic and foreign-policy, Senator Clinton has generally embraced the conventional view. She has oftentimes gone along with the politics of the moment. And, as a consequence, I don’t think she’s equipped to actually bring about the changes that are needed to bring different results when it comes to both domestic and foreign policy.

MS. BLOCK: Again, the message there seems to be: untested, not ready, dangerous times.

SEN. OBAMA: And, you know, this is an image she’s been peddling for the 15 months. It hasn’t been particularly effective because I think the American people understand they don’t need somebody who is going to do the same old things, the same old ways. And they suspect that it will result in the same old lack of results.

MS. BLOCK: Your campaign has been reaching out to a key constituency in Pennsylvania. That’s gun owners. It’s a state with a lot of pro-gun voters. At the same time, if you look at what has happened over the weekend in your city of Chicago – nine people shot and killed, five gun deaths in Philadelphia, where you are right now – over the weekend. How do you square those two things?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, one of the problems is that we’ve had gun owners and people who are worried about gun deaths talk past each other instead of talk to each other. And I think if they start talking to each other, we can reconcile a tradition of lawful gun ownership in this country with a belief in some common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, people who are mentally ill, children. When you talk to the average law-abiding gun owner about the need, for example, to trace weapons that have been used in crimes to where they were sold so that we can crack down on unscrupulous gun dealers, I think the average law-abiding gun owner agrees with that.

The problem is that the debate has gotten so polarized that we don’t make much progress and I think it’s important for those of us in urban communities to recognize that people’s attitudes about guns may be different in different regions of the country, but there’s no reason why we can’t come together to make sure that we preserve our traditions, but also that our children aren’t gunned down on the streets.

MS. BLOCK: Do you have a position on the D.C. hand-gun ban, the case that has gone before the Supreme Court?

SEN. OBAMA: You know, my general view – and this is colored by having taught constitutional law for 10 years – is that as a constitutional matter, the second amendment probably should recognize an individual’s right to own firearms. But just because you have an individual right doesn’t mean that the public at large doesn’t also have a countervailing right to protect the public safety. I mean, we all have rights to own private property, but that doesn’t mean that zoning laws are unconstitutional. And, you know, I don’t know all of the details and specifics of the D.C. gun law, but I do know that local communities as well as states and the federal government can institute some common-sense gun laws that will survive constitutional scrutiny.

MS. BLOCK: Let’s talk a little bit about tomorrow’s vote in Pennsylvania. In big states, up until now New York, Ohio, Texas, you haven’t been able to overtake Hillary Clinton and people have said, he’s done really well in some smaller states, but the big states have been a problem. One big state tomorrow: Pennsylvania –

SEN. OBAMA: Well, we’re looking forward to some good results in Pennsylvania, but keep in mind, I just want to question the premise of your question. Illinois is a pretty big state and may be discounted because it’s my home state, but the last time I checked, New York is Hillary Clinton’s home state. California – I don’t think that there is any doubt that I would win California in a general election; Virginia, which I won handily: Minnesota, which I won handily; Georgia, which I won handily – all big states.

So there’s been a tendency to cherry-pick which states are important and which aren’t. This is sort of the bias of our political pundits for the last several years is just to focus on a few states and think that they’re the important ones. We think we can win states like Virginia and Colorado that haven’t been in play for a very long time and, frankly, Senator Clinton couldn’t put in play. But I can.

MS. BLOCK: And can you win Pennsylvania tomorrow?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I wouldn’t be campaigning here if I didn’t think that we could win, but there’s no doubt that she had a big advantage here to start with. She comes from a border state that shares a media market with Philadelphia. She has the support of a very popular Democratic governor, but that’s why it’s hard to extrapolate from what happens during a primary. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Governor Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, will be pushing hard on my behalf come the general election. The same is true in Ohio with Governor Ted Strickland. So we feel very confident about our ability to win in November and I feel confident that we’ll do just fine tomorrow.

MS. BLOCK: Senator Obama, thank you for your time.

SEN. OBAMA: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

MS. BLOCK: Barack Obama spoke with me as he was en route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. We also requested an interview today with Senator Clinton.

(END)