tv NBC Bay Area News at 11AM NBC November 14, 2012 11:00am-11:30am PST
relationship with congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we've heard over the years from members on both sides is that you haven't done enough to reach out and build relationships. are there concrete ways you plan to approach your relationships with congress in the second term? >> look, i think there's no doubt i can always do better. and so i will, you know, examine ways that i can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody as long as it's advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy. you know, i've got a lot of good relationships with folks both in the house and senate. i have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. it hasn't always manifested itself in the kind of agreements that i'd like to see between democrats and republicans. and so i think all of us have responsibilities to see if there are things we can improve on.
and i don't exempt myself from needing to do some self-reflection and see if i can improve our working relationship. there are probably going to be, still, some very sharp differences, and as i said during the campaign, there will be times where there are fights. i think those are fights that need to be had. but what i think the american people don't want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. and i don't have another election. and michelle and i were talking last night about, you know, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be put in this position. and there are people all across this country, millions of folks, who worked so hard to help us get elected but there are millions of people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us.
and we take that responsibility very seriously. i take that responsibility very seriously. and i hope and intenned it to be an even better president in the second term than i was in the first. jonathan karl. >> thank you, mr. president. senator john mccain and senator lindsey graham both said today they want to have watergate style hearings on the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi and said if you nominate susan rice to be secretary of state they will do everything in their power to block her nomination as senator graham said he simply doesn't trust ambassador rice after what she said about benghazi. would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that? >> first of all, i'm not going to comment at this point on various nominations i'll put forward to fill out my cabinet for the second term. those are things that are still being discussed.
let me say specifically about susan rice, she has done exemplary work. she has represented the united states and our interests in the united nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. as i've said before, she made an appearance at the request of the white house. in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi and was simply making a presentation
based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous. and we're after an election now. i think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in benghazi and i'm happy to cooperate in any way that congress wants. we have provided every bit of information that we have and we will continue to provide information and we've got a full-blown investigation and all that information will be disclosed to congress. i don't think there's any debate in this country when you have four americans killed, that's a problem. and we've got to get to the bottom of it and there needs to be accountability. we have to bring those who carried it out to justice. they won't get any debate from me on that. when they go after the u.n.
ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me. and should i choose, if i think that she would be the best person to serve america in the capacity of state department, i will ynominate here. that's not a determination i've made yet. ed henry. >> i want to take chuck's lead and ask a very small follow-up, whether you feel you have a mandate not just on taxes but on a range of issues. i want to stay on benghazi. if they want to come after me, come after me, is what you said. i want to ask about the families of the four americans were killed. sean smith's father ray said he thinks his son called 911 for help and didn't get it.
i know you said you grieve for these four americans but the families have been waiting for more than two months. i would like to -- for you to address the families, if you can. on 9/11 as commander in chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives? >> ed, i'll address the families, not through the press. i'll address the families directly, as i already have. and we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. that's what the investigation is for. but as i said repeatedly, if people don't think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who i sent there and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the united states, then you don't know how our defense department thinks or our state department thinks or our cia
thinks. their number one priority, obviously, is to protect american lives. that's what our job is. >> [ inaudible ]. >> ed, i'll put forward every bit of information that we have. i can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger that my orders to my national security team were, do whatever we need to do to make sure they're safe. and that's the same order that i would give any time that i see americans are in danger, whether they're civilian or military. because that's our number one priority. with respect to the issue of mandate, i've got one mandate. i've got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get in the middle class. that's my mandate. that's what the american people said, work really hard to help
us. don't worry about the politics of it. don't worry about the party interests, don't worry about the special interests. just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead, because we're working hard out here and we're stig struggling a lot of us. that's my mandate. i don't presume because i won an election that everybody suddenly agrees with me on everything. i'm more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. we are very cautious about that. on the other hand, i didn't get re-elected just to bask in re-election. i got elected to do work on behalf of american families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession but are hopeful about the future. and i am, too. the one thing that i said during
the campaign that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign rhetoric but now that the campaign is over i'll repeat it and hopefully you'll really believe me, when you travel around the country, you are inspired by the grit and resilience and hard work and decency of the american people. and it just makes you want to work harder. you meet families who are, you know, have overcome really tough odds and somehow are making it and sending their kids to college and you meet young people who are doing incredible work in disadvantaged communities because they believe in the american ideal and it should be available for everybody. you meet farmers who are helping each other during times of drought and you meet businesses that kept their doors open
during the recession, even though the owner didn't have to take a salary and when you talk to these folks with be you say to yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they've been getting. they deserve all of us here in washington to be thinking every single day, how can i make things a little better for them? which isn't to say everything we do is going to be perfect or there aren't going to be big, tough challenges that we have to grapple with. but i do know the federal government can make a difference. we're seeing it right now on the jersey coast and in new york. people are still going through a really tough time. the response hasn't been perfect but it's been aggressive and strong and fast and robust and a lot of people have been helped because of it. and that's a pretty good metaphor for how i want the federal government to operate generally. i'm going to do everything i can to make sure it does.
christy parson. >> thank you, mr. president. and congratulations by the way. >> thanks. >> one quick question -- >> christy was there when i was running for state senate. >> that's right, i was. >> christy and i go back a ways. >> i've never seen you lose. i wasn't looking that one time. >> there you go. >> one quick follow-up and then i want to ask you about iran. i want to make sure i understood what you said. can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year and on iran, are you preparing a final diplomat push here to resolve the nuclear program issue and are we headed toward one-on-one talks? >> well, obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal cliff. if despite the election, if despite the dangers of going
over the fiscal cliff and what that means for our economy, that there's too much stubbornness in congress that we can't even agree on giving middle-class families a tax t, then middle-class families will end up having a big tax hike and that's going to be a pretty rude shock for them and i suspect we'll have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring and we can go back into a recession. it would be a bad thing and it is not necessary. i want to repeat, step number one we can take in the next couple of weeks, provide certainty to middle-class families, 98% of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97% of small businesses that their taxes will no go up a single dime next year.
give them that certainty right now. we can get that done. we can then set up a structure whereby we are dealing with tax reform, closing deductions, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements and i'm ready and willing to make big commitments to make sure we're locking in the kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our start bringing down our debt. i'm confident we can do it. look, i've been living with this a couple years now. i know the math pretty well. and it really is arithmetic. it's not calculus. there are tough things that have to be done buts there a way of doing this that does not hurt middle-class families, that does not hurt our seniors, doesn't hurt families with disabled kids, allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow like basic research and
education, helping young people afford going to college. as we've already heard from some republican commentators, a modest tax increase on wealthy is not going to break their backs. they'll still be wealthy. and it will not impinge on business investment. we know how to do this. this is just a matter of whether or not we come together and say democrats and republicans, we're both going to hold hands and do what's right for the american people. and i hope that's what happens. with respect to iran, i very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the program. i was clear before the campaign, during the campaign and i'm now clear after the campaign. we're not going to let iran get a nuclear weapon. but i think there is still a window of time for us to resolve
this diplomatically. we've imposed the toughest sanctions in history. it is having an impact on iran's economy. there should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they're not pursuing a nuclear weapon. and so, yes, i will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between iran and not just us but the international commune to see if we can get this thing resolved. i can't promise that iran will walk through the door they need to walk through, but that would be very much the preferable option. >> under what circumstances would that conversation take place. >> i won talk about the details of negotiations, but i think it's fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we're not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols. if iran is serious about wanting
to resolve this, they'll be in a position to resolve it. >> at one point just prior to the election there was talk that talks might be imminent. >> that was not true. and it's not true as of today. okay. i'm just going to knock through a couple others. mark landers. where's mark? there he is. right in front of me. >> thank you, mr. president. in his endorsement of you, a few weeks ago, mayor bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. tomorrow you're going up to new york city where you're going to, i assume, see people who are suffering the effects of hurricane sandy which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. what specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? and do you think the political
will exists in washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of attacks on carbon? >> you know, as you know, mark, we can't attribute any particular weather event to climate change. what we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing, faster than was predicted even ten years ago. we do know that the arctic ice cap is melting, faster than was even predicted five years ago. we do know there have been extraordinarily -- there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in north america but also around the globe. and i am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions.
as a consequence i think we have an obligation to future generations to do something about it. now in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. and trucks. that will have an impact. that will take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. we doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. and we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere. but we haven't done as much as we need to. so what i'm going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranking conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what more can we do
to make short-term progress in reducing carbons. and then, you know, working through an education process that i think is necessary, a discussion, a conversation, across the country about what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we're passing on to future generations that's going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with. i don't know what either democrats or republicans are prepared to do at this point. because this is one of those issues that's not just a partisan issue. i also think there are regional differences. there's no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices.
and understandably, i think the american people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that if the message is somehow we're going to ignore jobs and growth, simply to address climate change, i don't think anybody's going to go for that. i won't go for that. if on the other hand we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious den the in climate change and be an international leader, i think that's something the american people would support. so you know, you can expect that you'll hear more from me in coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this agenda forward. >> it sounds like you're saying -- [ inaudible ].
>> that i'm pretty certain of. and, look, we're still trying to debate whether we can make sure the middle-class families don't get a tax hike. let's see if we can resolve that. that should be easy. this one's hard. but it's important. because one of the things we don't always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. we just put them off as something that's unconnected to our behavior right now. i think based on the evidence we're seeing is that what we do now will have an impact and a cost down the road if we don't do something about it.all right. last question. mark. where's mark? >> thank you. mr. president, the assad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. france has recognized the
opposition coalition. what would it take for the united states to do the same? and is there any point at which the united states would consider arming the rebels? >> i was one of the first leaders, i think, around the world to say assad had to go, in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests. obviously the situation in syria deteriorated since then. we have been extensively engaged with the international community as well as regional powers to help the opposition. we've committed hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of syria and outside of syria. we are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they're not splintered and divided in the face of the
onabsoluo onslaught of the assad regime. we are in close contact with countries like jordan who immediately border syria and israel who is already having grave concerns as we do, for example, about movement of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere. and that could have an impact not just within syria but on the region as a whole. i'm encouraged to see that the syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they've had in the past. we're going to be talking to them, my envoys will be traveling to various meetings that will be taking place with the international community and opposition. we consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the syrian people. we're not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of
government in exile. but we do think that it is a broad-based representative group. one of the questions we're going to continue to press is making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic syria, an inclusive syria, a moderate syria. we have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. and one of the things that we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we're not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do americans harm or israelis harm or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security. we're constantly probing and working on that issue. the more engaged we are, the more we'll be in a position to make sure that we are
encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and working cooperatively with us over the long term. all right? thank you very much. >> [ inaudible ]. the 1.2 trillion trigger subis that something you can see having a short term or -- [ inaudible ]. >> that was a great question but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. thank you very much, guys. >> a reporter who decided it wasn't over in fact and decided to yell out his question. i guess it will be answered at some other time. the president's first news conference after having been re-elected, watching along with us, david gregory, the moderator of "meet the press" in
washington, andrea mitchell is here in new york. david, i was trying to watch through the eyes of let's say, a family of a kid serving in afghanistan knowing that now our last three four star commanders have been at least touched by scandal and it's really the only story people are talking about across this country. in the hands of a white house press corps admittedly with a wide array of questions. what did we hear that advanced the ball and what didn't we hear? >> i think the president was very careful there as he said to our own chuck todd that he'll withhold judgment on whether he should have been informed before now. he did say there's no evidence that he's seen that there was any national security breach and seemed to tilt toward the personal here by saying this should be sort of seen as a personal failing rather than any sort of failing that undermined national security or our war effort or even the character and ultimately the records of, particularly, general petraeus, now cia director petraeus who
was involved. i think this is the fine line that the president's trying to walk. that there are protocols he kept saying that the fbi has for why they launch an investigation, why they would continue it and whether or not they share that information with the white house. i think that really pushes it into the realm of the investigation that continues, brian. >> andrea, there couldn't be more going on right now. there was talk of fiscal cliff. we have no cia director. benghazi's still around, the israelis took out the head of hamas today. then john mccain said if the president puts up his u.n. ambassador, susan rice, to replace hillary clinton as secretary of state she will be blocked, they'll do everything in their power that's where the president today almost conjuring the wording of aaron sorkin from the movie "american president" as will be pointed out all day really decided throwdown. >> this is president andrew
shepherd coming through in the east room of the white house. this was president obama saying if nyou want to pick a fight, yu come after me, john mccain and lindsey graham. don't come after susan rice. it was dramatic. he is angry. they feel susan rice is being unfairly blamed, that she was working off of talking points from the intelligence community. >> this just in from lindsey graham, mr. president, don't think for one minute i don't hold you ultimately responsible for benghazi. i think you failed as commander in chief before, during and after the attack. so this is beginning to keep going. >> so much for the honeymoon. >> yes. the president got contemplative there for a minute saying the pace of business is so much that he'd forgotten about the election the day after, wednesday. >> it was two days later that he was told he was about to lose his cia director and had to make a very important decision as to
whether accept that resignation. >> a wide-ranging news conference. it went from a lot of talk about the middle class, a lot of talk about tax cuts or no tax cuts. tax hikes, in fact, and he said he's familiar with all literature on presidents who overreach in the second term. >> they do have a note of caution there. you can hear it every day from the white house. has to create a cabinet but at the same time they know and we talked to michael beschlosh about this. that's when people get in trouble, when they overreach. >> there seemed to be an issue with the microphone. we heard a