Obama: Seamless Security Transition A Priority

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/97078485/97078467" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

National security, the nation's deep economic troubles, and adjusting to life as the next president of the United States: Those were among the topics covered in Barack Obama's first interview since he became president-elect almost two weeks ago.

For part of the interview with CBS' 60 Minutes program Sunday night, he was joined by future first lady Michelle Obama, who acknowledged that in some ways, reality has not sunk in.

The issues that dominated the campaign are dominating Obama's transition to the presidency. He is now receiving daily intelligence briefings on potential threats to national security. In the interview with CBS Correspondent Steve Kroft, Obama spoke of the need to be especially vigilant now.

"I think it's important to get a national security team in place, because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We want to make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible," he said.

On the economy, the magnitude of the challenge has been compared to what Franklin Roosevelt faced when he became president 75 years ago.

"What you see in FDR that I hope my team can emulate is not always getting it right but projecting a sense of confidence and a willingness to try things and experiment in order to get people working again. That's what the American people expect. They're not expecting miracles," he said.

The president-elect also said the average American knows that the president can't snap his fingers and make everything OK. But he said people do say this:

"What we do expect is that the guy is going to be straight with us. We do expect that he's going to be working really hard for us. We do expect that he is going to be thinking about ordinary Americans and not just the wealthy and the powerful, and we do expect that if something doesn't work, they're going to try something else until they find something that does. And that's the kind of common-sense approach that I want to take when I take office."

The interview included discussion of personal matters — of how one prepares to take on the weight of the presidency, particularly during perilous times for the economy, coupled with involvement in two wars overseas. Obama told Kroft that he has turned to the writings of President Abraham Lincoln.

"There's a wisdom there and a humility in his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful. ... I find him a very wise man."

As for when the names of Cabinet nominees will be made known, the president-elect would only say "soon."

As his wife, Michelle, joined him in the interview, Obama said the family is still adjusting to some things: "The loss of anonymity — and this is a not a complaint; this is part of what you sign up for — but being able to just wander around the neighborhood. I can't go to my own barbershop now. I have to have my barber come to some undisclosed location to cut my hair.

"The small routines of life that keep you connected, I think, some of those are being lost," he said. "One of the challenges I think that we're going to be wrestling with is how to stay pretty normal."

On Monday, his schedule in Chicago includes his first post-election meeting with the man he defeated for the presidency — Sen. John McCain.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from