Video: Barack Obama on Meet the Press (5/4/08)

Sen. Barack Obama spent the entire hour this morning with Tim Russert on Meet the Press. The interview focused on the 2008 presidential race just days ahead of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. I though it was a pretty good interview with Russert asking about the recent events and going into detail on many other issues.

A transcript of the May 4, 2008 broadcast with Sen. Obama is available from NBC.

Here is the entire 48 minute video of Barack Obama’s interview in 5 parts:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

A report on it from Fox News:

Barack Obama said Sunday he never sought Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s counsel on political issues and would “absolutely not” seek his advice on policy if he gets to the White House.

The Democratic presidential candidate said his retiring pastor built a wonderful church that “lived out the social gospel,” but ultimately Wright’s comments about the United States over the last several months and over the last several years are contrary to what I stand for and who I am.

Obama has faced weeks of scrutiny over his relationship to his pastor of 20 years, and last month delivered a speech on race relations in the U.S. that grew out of demands that he define that relationship. At the time, Obama said he could no more divorce himself from the chief pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago than he could his white grandmother.

But after Wright appeared last week at the National Press Club and reaffirmed many of the anti-American positions he espoused from the pulpit, including blasting the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism and blaming the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on U.S. foreign policy, Obama denounced his former pastor.

“I did what I thought was right, which was denounce the words, not denounce the man,” Obama said of his earlier speech. “I think what really changed was he was going to double down on the statements he made before.”

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama repeated that he had not heard many of those positions while a congregant at the church, but he thought that Wright’s using the national platform that was given to him showed that “he didn’t have much regard for the moment that we’re in right now in the United States.”

Sound off below, how did he do?

Update – 2017

For information on the mythical September 7, 2008, Meet the Press broadcast, see this post.

  • Josh

    I thought it was great. Obama fielded the spin questions well, but I’m glad that Russert asked questions about real issues moreso than spin like Wright. Obama hit the energy question out of the park. Obama’s stance on energy reform was one of the biggest reasons I decided to support him in the first place. He’s also the first presidential candidate that I can remember that has clearly said that we need to utilize nuclear power more actively. The other thing that I thought was great about this interview was that Obama again showed his incredible integrity in not attacking Clinton nearly as much as he could, and maybe should, have. He took little jabs, sure, but fell short of demonizing her as she has repeatedly done him. Obama has clearly shown, to me anyway, that he has moved past the issues of Wright and “bittergate” to focus on the issues that drove him to run in the first place. Clinton no longer focuses on these issues, but instead focuses on attacking Obama’s integrity, which I believe shows she has little of her own. I mean, come on, how many politicians would admit that they made a mistake on policy, and that they learned from that mistake. I haven’t seen Clinton admitting her mistakes regarding her failed healthcare-reform plan in the 90’s, much less what she learned from those mistakes.

  • Josh

    As an aside, what the heck was up with Russert’s crazy eyes? That was just creepy.

  • Dreadsen

    Well I liked how Tim Russert conducted the interveiw. Wright a little bit and the rest on other issues. Wright was a big deal last week so he had to ask some things but he moved on to some issues that really mattered. I know some people would rather have the entire hour dedicated to Wright questions lol!

    But on Face the nation which came on right before the Senator from Indiana tried to use Obama’s voting on the tax relief in Illinois as a suggestion that he actually was in support of it.

    His previous votes on it was cleared up on Tim Russert.
    His plan for having a 30 to 40% decrease in the dependency of foreign oil in the next 40 years was something I was waiting to hear.

    I recall when Hillary was looking for more debates in Wisconsin and Obama wanted to have a green Debate. I bet we all could have heard a lot about these issues.

  • Michael

    It appears as though Tim Russert oriented the interview as a foil against Hillary Clinton at certain points (as if reacting to her recent interview and quasi-collaboration with O’Reilly). I wonder if this internal reactive politics.

    It was nice to have 2/3 of the interview about policies and stances on issues, rather than identity-politics. We got to hear Obama voice off on some important issues such as food shortage, gas prices, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I think he appeared knowledgeable throughout.

    However, he is still talking to certain people, whether consciously or not. He needs to understand the appeal and rhetoric that reaches the uneducated and I think Russert’s question pretty much went unanswered: How do you get those White uneducated voters, which you seem to lose in 26 out of 29 elections?

  • Loni

    It was a very good interview. I think Sen. Obama answered the questions, even the tougher ones, very well. One thing that I like about him is his tempermate. He never seems too defensive, irratated, or anything like that. I know Hillary Clinton is a smart women and very capable. However, I recall earlier during this campaigning system, especially when she had lost 11 states in row, she was sarcastic and defensive when reporters asked her questions and asked her to respond to the Bosnia incident. Candidates are human and will make missteps while campaigning. The way the person responds shows their character. I’ve not heard Obama blame anyone about the Wrigth situation. He’s said that he was not the person he met 20 yrs ago and described the community outreaches that the church offer to explain his long membership at the church. That’s believable. Hillary seems to pout and say the boys are beating up on her and say that she’s human as hard as it is for us to believe in a sarcastic tone. I don’t care if Hillary has missteps in her campaign. How she handles things, blaming the vast right wing, the media, the boys shows so much about her.

  • Rick

    What a softball fiasco! Russert is more than capable of making his guests “bleed.” On the contrary, he never even nicked Obama’s false facade!

    Meanwhile, on ANOTHER network, GS took on Hillary hook and tongs in a pitifully personal attack, as if to reclaim his fair journalist ID card.

    Hillary never faltered. Obama would have withered in the same heat. What a ridiculous election!!! If Obama is the candidate, the US is in terrible trouble. Neither he nor McCain can steer the car, as their feet don’t reach the peddles. Hillary is driving an 18 wheeler and will bust right through all the trash, that the other two can’t even collect!

  • Dem ’08


    Brave post here. Right on but brave. As amazing as it sounds these are the most biased people I have heard. I talk to several people everyday and I run across McCain supporters and Obama supporters along with Clinton supporters. You just run into three who think everything that is a challenge for Obama is bull. They think he should not answer questions that show his character or moral values. They only want him to answer questions that his people has had time to prepare for.
    I will likely be attacked for this post but just in case you are new here you should know these names. Watch what is posted about me now.
    Just so you know I support Clinton but I think Obama has decent policy. Obama is just trying to play this “change” idea that several people buy while he hides and avoids everything that tells something about him. He is either a lier or he would be dangerous on security. If he would just face his issue and admit his mistakes I would be ok with him but he just wants to avoid anything negative.

    McCain is worse than Bush so no need for chat about him.
    I think Obama will get the nomination but Clinton would be much better. What gets me is that everyone was happy to hear she was running until they heard about Obama. Now they can see anything good about her. Biased people eat up this site, beware!

  • This was an excellent interview. I am so glad that the focus was on the issues and not Rev. Wright. Who is running for President, Rev. Wright or Barack Obama? I beleve Obama when he says that he didn’t hear that kind of rhetoric from Wright in past years,and even if he did, so what. Just because you hear something, doesn’t mean you have to believe it or follow it. I say this because first of all 9’11 happened in 91, Aids became more pronounced and noticeable after the twenty year time period that has everyone obsessed. America has said the we have the right to freedome of speech as well as religion, The snippits of Rev. Wright’s sermom..He is a minister not the religion. As a daughter of a pastor, I have seen first hand how perceived attitudes and sermons can be taken out of context and those were not snippits. I highly doubt that the church would still have 8000 members of diverse races if the Rev. had preached like that, and some of his members have even stated that they were shocked at these most recent remarks. Judge Barack Obama if you must on his character and strengths and not his associates..Remeber he is not perfect, never will be and neither are we. Obama has the ability to bridge the gaps between the races and I wish people would realize that yes he is Black, but he is also White, He is an AMERICAN. Is experience that important? Not really, look at who is in Washington now. It is time for a change, and a new direction. Yes we can, Yes America and Americans can give Senator Obama the support and votes he needs to try and right the wrongs of the current and past Washington government administration. We can all start by voting on our local and state levels in order to get the officials that we need in Washington which will help in making the change in our government. This is what will be starting from the bottom up and we need to concentrate our efforts in that direction instead of this triviality. If Senator Obama were “white” would we have to deal with this institutional racism. The TV stations especially FOX have been playing the race game sublimally and overtly. Yes we can and we are ready for a change, and that change is OBAMA.

  • Jeff-NYC


  • Joyce

    after reading these posts…I only have one thing to say…there should not only be an ‘age’ requirement, to vote for The President of the United States of America, but, an IQ reqirement as well!

  • Michel

    It’s official. After reading some of this posts I am now convinced of the thing that everybody kept saying to me: Barack Obama doesn’t attract the uneducated voters. I know, I know, I’m over-generalizing here but all one has to do is read the average Obama detractor comments. They simply can’t support his campaign. Is beyond them.

  • Michael

    Michel, this is a problem though. Uneducated does not mean unintelligent, and that’s an important distinction. I may have gone to graduate school for over nine years, but this does not make me ‘smarter’ than others, simply more educated.

    Bush capitalized on being identified as the “everyday Joe.” Now, I would never want an “everyday Joe” running the most powerful seat in the world, but apparently a lot of people found solace in this. These same people can be tapped now, by either the Republican or Democrat nominee. Currently, I would say Hillary stands to be the best to get these voters, but this could change.

    If Obama wants to “unite” the country, he’ll have to figure out how to appeal and talk to uneducated voters– and there are plenty of them.

  • Michel

    You are right Michael. I was speaking out of frustration for seeing so many unintelligent posts. I’m sorry. And yes, he must try to appeal to these voters as well, but not with cheap tricks. Obama realized that many people wnat to give them the familiar celebrity treatment, and some other want to have some insight in his personal life. I find this baffling, but it’s legitimate campaign dynamics, so…

    He apparently started to work in that direction already.

  • Michel

    This is one of the reasons I believe Barack Obama would be a better president of the US than the other two candidates:

  • Michael

    Michel, good posts. The thing he is still not doing, though, is watching his media persona. Those quick soundbytes that George Bush and Bill Clinton had nailed down– where you could turn on the television and hear him speak and feel he was at your dinner table (anyone’s- educated or not). Obama sometimes does this, sometimes not. I feel his points and rationale are very keen and on track at times, but he misses the mark when he has to rehash it in smaller, simpler dosages (specifically on policy).

  • Michel

    Well, thank you. I thought people criticized him exactly on the opposite, that he simplified too much his speeches about his policies and didn’t go into detail as much as many people wanted. I think he, in fact, does both things in different moments. But perhaps is that I prefer to research about things I don’t know about in order to understand a candidate’s position, and not to hear him’her say things that are over-simplified but are simply not true or very ambiguous (I’m thinking gas tax holiday or the Iraq 100 years vigil).

    But of course, you are proabably right… we’re not talking here about what reasons people SHOULD have to vote for him, but what concerns people WILL PROBABLY have about him as a candidate and as a communicator.

    But I definitely don’t want to hear someone talking down to me. Not because of my ego but because of the truth that’s being omitted to make some ideas acceptable.

  • Mike

    I think HC is just being populist to win votes while BO is more (but not fully) sincere and honest. Of the three Obama is the best (but not ideal, unfortunately). Here is why.

    1) If Iran attacks Israel… ? – If Iran attacks Israel, that itself will already be a failure of the US foreign policy.

    2) Relief throu gas tax holiday…? – cutting off taxes will not bring relief, the pennies of savings that are promised will only occur (and this is the best case scenario) is suppliers do not increase the price (and they probably will, at least by a little). If HC wants to give a relief to the gas buyers there is a better way: fix the gas prices at the current level less the tax, that will guarantee those tiny savings.

    3) etc.

  • Josh

    This is what amazes me about uneducated voters. For years people just like Clinton have come along and pandered to them, dumbing down the issues as if they were retarded, and attempting to use sleazy gimmicks to try and gain their votes.

    Now, along comes this guy who is not willing to sell them short, and they hate him for it. It’s as if these people consider him elitist for talking to them as if they are adults, and not 5 year olds. Look at Clinton’s campaign. All she is running on is gimmicks and empty stances on issues, not having actual plans, at least not that the public can read. This is why she supports the “gas tax holiday”, because she thinks enough people in America are stupid enough to fall for it. Look at her healthcare plan, all it is is a regurgitation of the plan she failed to institute in the 90’s. Why hasn’t she answered to the mistakes she made? What has she learned from HER mistakes?

    Obama has a complete PDF format plan on his website for EVERY plan that he has talked about. He also has a blog, something he wants to make a requirment for ALL Washington politicians, because unlike Hillary, he believes the American people should have a part in their government as well. His energy policy is MILES beyond Clintons, and galaxies from McCain. Clinton and McCain are really showing their age in this campaign, and old politics is not what we need to move this country forward.

  • IndiMinded

    The #1 criticism I hear of Barack Obama is not that he is elitist, or out of touch with the common Joe. It’s from people who feel that he’s often just telling them what they want to hear – and you can understand where they get that idea from. When Obama panders he panders hard. His campaign runs on the words “Change” and “Hope” and slogans like “Change we can believe in” and chants like “Yes we can”.

    To anyone who isn’t looking closely at his message, his campaign seems suspiciously like one of those sickening inspirational posters that your co-workers just love to put up. You know what I mean: the type with sunsets and / or kittens and some clever words of wisdom.

    There may be an educational divide in who is voting for Obama, but frankly I think it has more to do with subculture: I think that to a certain type of person, Obama looks like he must be either a huckster or a fool, and it doesn’t much matter which he actually is. It’s the way he chooses to present himself at certain times, like during stump speeches, it’s very disingenuous.

    Personally, I’m very excited about Obama’s candidacy. But I’d never vote for the man if I had only his stump speeches to go on. I think at certain times he makes the decision that he’ll try talking to the “working class”, and when he does that he just sounds like he’s trying to come away with someone’s money.

  • Whobody

    The media, Dem leaders, and the general public all seem to be calling for him to connect with the “working class” voter, but then when he tries, we turn and say that it looks like he’s trying to hard. It’s a tight spot. He sticks to the tone he’s good at and used to, and he’s called an elitist; He tries an “average joe” rhetoric (which doesn’t seem to fit) and he’s called out for pandering.

    It doesn’t seem to me he’s disingenuous in the stump speechs, but it’s almost like he’s holding back a more elaborate discussion to save face with the “working class” or “average joe,” not to mention the campaign groupies who are looking for a good reason to chant something and wave their ’08 signs a little harder (nothing wrong with that, though). Isn’t that what the stump speeches have always been about: forming a rally cry? A candidate to cling to? And a catchy slogan so the uninformed can sum up there argument in 5 words or less?

    People want to be pandered to, but they don’t want it to be too obvious. All of them have to play the game, whether their head’s in the right place or not. A necessary evil? In that right, it’s almost a little comforting that Obama doesn’t pander well.

    Apologies: That was a little of a rant on some of the things that irk me about politics, but that’s what it is – politics.

    Obama ’08 (I like to imagine that on a glossy sign with a neat logo and me and hundreds of other people waving them as hard as we can while chanting “YES WE CAN!” or maybe I’ll just stick to the blogs. To each their own.)

  • Michel

    Look at this. Two days ago (channeling Woodrow Wilson and Henry Cabot Lodge) McCain referred to the “League of Nations.” He had meant to say “League of Democracies,” his proposal for a new organization of allies beyond the U.N.

    And yesterday, opening his judicial speech at Wake Forest, McCain got his “w’s” mixed up: “I appreciate the hospitality of the students and faculty of West Virginia” McCain said, before correcting himself as the Deacs in the audience laughed. “I’m catching up with my speech,” he said.

    Is everybody thinking what I’m thinking?

    And people here complaints that Obama fumbles. This is ridiculous.



    Perhaps there are SOME out there who are beginning to get ‘the
    picture’. The following is a narrative taken from Sunday Morning’s
    televised “Meet The Press’. and the author is employed by none other
    than the Washington Post!! Yeah…the Washington Post of New York and Los
    Angeles Times fame!! Must say that I’m duly impressed…
    > From Sunday’s Televised “Meet the Press” Senator Obama
    was asked about his stance on the American Flag. Obama Explains National Anthem
    > Sun, 07 Sept. 2008 11:48:04 EST, General Bill Ginn’ USAF (ret.)
    asked Obama to explain why he doesn’t follow protocol when the National
    Anthem is played.
    > The General also stated to the Senator that according to the United
    States Code,
    > Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171…During rendition of the national
    anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform are
    expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the
    heart. At the very least, “Stand and Face It”
    > Senator Obama Live on Sunday states, “As I’ve said about
    the flag pin, I don’t want to be perceived as taking sides, Obama said.
    ‘There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a
    symbol of oppression. And the anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You
    know, the bombs bursting in air and all. It should be swapped for something less
    parochial and less bellicose. I like the song ‘I’d Like To Teach the
    World To Sing.’ If that were our anthem, then I might salute it.”We
    should consider to reinvent our National Anthem as well as to redesign our Flag
    to better offer our enemies hope and love. It’s my intention, if elected, to
    disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we as
    a Nation of warring people , should conduct ourselves as the nations of Islam,
    whereas peace prevails. Perhaps a state or period of mutual concord between our
    governments. When I become President, I will seek a pact or agreement to end
    hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a
    freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation have placed upon
    the nations of Islam an unfair injustice. My wife disrespects the Flag for many
    personal reasons. Together she and I have attended several flag burning
    ceremonies in the past, many years ago. She has her views and I have mine”.
    Of course now, I have found myself about to become the President of the United
    States and I have put aside my hatred. I will use my power to bring CHANGE to
    this Nation, and offer the people a new path of hope. My wife and I look for w
    ard to becoming our Country’s First Family. Indeed, CHANGE is about to
    overwhelm the United States of America .
    > WHAT the Hell !
    > Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it right. This could possibly
    be our next President.
    > I, for one, am speechless.
    > Dale Lindsborg ,
    > Washington Post

  • Eloise Cooper

    This report needs to be published in all news papers, on radio, on TV It is unthinkable to allow this man to even consider being the President of the United States of America with an attitude like he has toward our flag and and our Country. When will people wake up, he is a musslim, and wait IF he were so lucky to become our Pres. (which I pray to my Heavenly Father he doesn’t) It’s very obvious his “beloved pastor” Wright would be back in the picture in a major way, and our Christian rights would be out the window! The Demo’s are so desparate to have a democrat Pres. they are willing to put a musslim in office! His wife is no asset to him nor would she be for our Country! It is obvious they are both anti white, anti American, anti loyal to our Country! Wake up America before it’s too late!!!

  • If we want to be patriotic in our country, the last thing we should be doing is engaging in character assassinations on one of the two most likely candidates for the highest office in the country. This goes for those attacking McCain’s character- and Obama’s. Both of these men are honorable, intelligent, and respectable individuals. They both say this about each other. We need to focus on the policies, not the veneer.

    Last time we looked at the veneer– we got a chummy, average U.S guy, George Bush.

  • Ray

    After seeing this, along with numerous hours of research…I’ve concluded that this man is most definitely not acceptable to hold the office of President. Due to his shady, questionable past…I cannot vote for this man. He has way too many red flags flying over his head. Just his ties to Ayers & Khalidi are enough to deter me from even contemplating endorsing him, matter of fact…I’ll do everything I can to encourage people to vote against him. He’s a socialist, communist & a Marxist. One of the topmost dangerous enemies of this country. He should be investigated (along with Pelosi, Reid, both Clintons, Barney Frank, Bush, Gore, Delay, Sharpton, Frankin & 1000 other crooks). Insidious foes…that’s what they are. Time to grab your pitchforks & torches. We are a sovereign nation…we cater to no other country…we compromise with no enemy…we do NOT change our constitution to merge with other countries (as Obama wishes to). We are America…a Republic. The libs can have this country when they pry my sword from my hand.

  • gman

    Bet you really miss me now

    G Bush

  • andrew

    I don’t think so, anybody is better then Bush is pal.

  • GingerB4

    Lies, lies, lies.
    He’s done exactly opposite of his vague promises.

  • Tony Ruiz

    Here’s a recap of what this interview is all about:

    He told us in advance what he planned to do but nobody was listening….

    Yes, he told us in advance what he planned to do. Few were listening.

    The following is a narrative taken from a 2008 Sunday morning televised “Meet The Press’.

    From Sunday’s 07 Sept. 2008 11:48:04 EST, Televised “Meet the Press” THE THEN Senator Obama was asked about his stance on the American Flag.

    General Bill Ginn’ USAF (ret.) asked Obama to explain WHY he doesn’t follow protocol when the National Anthem is played.

    The General stated to Obama that according to the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171…

    During rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present (except those in uniform) are expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Or, at the very least, “Stand and Face It”.


    ‘Senator’ Obama replied:

    “As I’ve said about the flag pin, I don’t want to be perceived as taking sides”. “There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American

    flag is a symbol of oppression..” “The anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all that sort of thing.”


    Obama continued: “The National Anthem should be ‘swapped’ for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song ‘I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing’. If that were our anthem, then, I might salute it. In my opinion, we should consider reinventing our National Anthem as well as ‘redesign’ our Flag to better offer our enemies hope and love. It’s my intention, if elected, to disarm America to the level of acceptance to our Middle East Brethren. If we, as a Nation of warring people, conduct ourselves like the nations of Islam, where peace prevails – – – perhaps a state or period of mutual accord could exist between our governments …”

    When I become President, I will seek a pact of agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation, have placed upon the nations of Islam, an unfair injusticewhich is WHY my wife disrespects the Flag and she and I have attended several flag burning ceremonies in the past”.

    “Of course now, I have found myself about to become the President of the United States and I have put my hatred aside . I will use my power to bring CHANGE to this Nation, and offer the people a new path..My wife and I look forward to becoming our Country’s First black Family. Indeed, CHANGE is about to overwhelm the United States of America “

    WHAAAAAAAT, the Hell is that???

    Yes, you read it right.

    I, for one, am speechless!!!

    Dale Lindsborg , Washington Post

  • Meredith

    The comment above is a false recap of the interview. He primarily defends his relationship with the Reverand Wright. Other than that, it is politicing at its finest. Giving all the right answers so people vote for him. Whether those statements are what he has followed through on, is up to you. But at least you should watch it, not take Tony Ruiz’s word for it. Tony, shamne on you!

  • Lydia

    I would like to watch the actual interview ..but so far I am unable to find it:
    Sunday Sept.7, 2008 Meet the Press 11:48
    If you have the video link please email it to me. thanks

  • Richard Porter

    Today’s political profundity – HE WHO SLINGS MUD LOSES GROUND!

  • Rod

    It’s both hilarious and sad to read some of these comments almost 4 years later. Oh, how Obama, aided by the msm,managed to hoodwink so many of you. You were fooled into believing that a community organizer with radical associations and a paper-thin resume was really something special.

    Here we are 4 years later, $5 trillion dollars morein debt, gas prices racing towards $4/gallon, a crappy “healthcare” bill that Obamahas allowed many of his supporters toopt out of (if it’s a great plan, why would anybody want toopt out?), no energypolicy, notevenasubmitted budget for over 1,000 days, moresupport for the Muslim Brotherhood than Israel,etc, etc, etc,

    Some of you idiots are probably STILLsupporting him. That’s shameful.

  • “r-the-ppi-declare/ Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time 🙂

  • Carol

    This is the transcript from Meet the Press, September 7, 2008: Joe Biden was on that day, not Barack 0bama.
    BTW, I feel that 0bama is the worst president ever. We don’t need to make things up about him. His actions have proven what he is trying to do to our country.

  • Red White & Blue

    Today it appears that there are more idiot’s out there now then there were in 2008, if we have four more years of him we will be the Soclialist United States of America.