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tv   MSNBC Special  MSNBC  September 3, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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opponent. mitt romney punts on this one. he's pretending it does not exist. this election will, therefore, fail us as a nation, as a means of having a robust debate about a war we are still waging, while more than two-thirds of americans do not want us to be fighting it. elections are supposed to help us close the gap between what we want and what we get as a nation, because enterprising competitive politicians are supposed to recognize and seize political opportunity, when a policy is deeply, profoundly unpopular. but mitt romney is not capable of that on this issue. and so that means the pressure on this issue, the pressure on the policy makers, if there is going to be any, will have to come from the people, from us. because it seems like we care about this as a country, even if some of the people who say they want to lead us do not care about it. all right. that does it for us tonight. we will see you again tomorrow night at 7:00, as our coverage of the democratic convention starts in prime-time. but right now, it is time for "barack obama: making history" which is hosted by our own chris matthews. have a great night.
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some day, years from now, barack obama will be here in the national portrait gallery, alongside abraham lincoln and all the other presidents. but another image of him has taken its place already in our popular consciousness, and that is the november night the young senator from illinois was elected, as our country's leader. that night marked the before and after in american history, when the impossible became possible. when a might-never-happen event actually did. and whether or not you voted for barack obama, america knew it was taking a giant step forward and living up to the country's proud ideal that all men are created equal.
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>> if there is anyone out there who still doubts that america is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. >> president obama's election transformed the way the world looks at america, but also the way we look at ourselves. >> it makes me so proud of our country. it was electric, throughout the world. >> when you looked in that audience and you saw people with tears in their eyes, you knew this was more than just an ordinary election. >> the night he won is one of our proudest moment as a nation. it was both the joy of the moment and the journey. >> the journey really began in the 17th century, when the first
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african slaves were brought into virginia. then, in the mid-19th century came the first blow for justice, the great american civil war, ending slavery. in the mid-20th century, the epic struggle for civil rights brought african-americans equality under the law. now, 45 years after martin luther king's march on washington, full equality was one step closer to reality. for those who had devoted their lives to this cause, the moment was bittersweet. >> i wish that he could just for a moment, you know, 30 seconds, could just have seen the fruits of their labors. >> it's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve, to put their hands on the arc of
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history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. >> while the path to electing our country's first black president has been long and torturous, for the man himself, it has been brisk, smart, purposeful. it began in hawaii in 1961, when barack obama was born to a white american mother and a black kenyan father, a man who soon left his family behind. young barry, his nickname at the time, grew up in hawaii and indonesia, the home of his stepfather. in 1983, he graduated from new york's columbia university. >> after columbia, he elects to go not just to chicago, but the south side of chicago, to be a community organizer. this has not only an altruistic impulse to do good, but also has to do with the construction of an identity. >> in 1988, obama entered
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harvard law school, where through a rigorous selection process, he was named the first black president of the law review. after graduation, he married michelle robinson, another harvard-trained lawyer. they met when she served as his mentor during a summer law firm internship. >> she's very much a partner to her husband in their relationship. she's a very accomplished person, thoughtful, and she has strong opinions about things. >> the couple made their home in chicago, where barack taught constitutional law, worked on a book about his life, and began thinking hard about his ambitions. >> if a point comes where i think that i can do more good in a political office than i can doing the things i'm doing now, then i might think about it. but that time is certainly in the future. >> two years after that interview, the future came to life, as obama ran for and won a seat in the illinois state senate. even before that run, there was something about him that caught people.
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>> i met barack obama because a friend of mine in chicago, named betty lou saltman, active in politics here, called me up in 1992. she said, i just met the most remarkable young man and i think you ought to meet him. his name is barack obama. i know this sounds odd, but i just had this strange feeling that he could be president of the united states some day. and i always joke, now i take betty lou to the track with me whenever i go. >> when obama ran in 2004 for the united states senate, david axelrod signed on as his media adviser. the little-known candidate with the unusual name defeated a half dozen rivals to win the democratic nomination. >> thank you! obama's come-from-behind victory won him wide attention. he soon got a call to deliver the keynote at the democratic national convention. >> and as soon as he hung up, he said, i know what i want to say. i want to wrap my story in the larger american story. and for the next three weeks, he was writing on little scraps of paper wherever he went, in between campaign stops. and he pulled it all together.
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>> the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. red states for republicans, blue states for democrats. but i've got news for them too. we worship an awesome god in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. >> all around us, there were people who were crying. and halfway through i thought, this guy's life has changed and it will never be the same. >> i think i just have seen the first black president there. and the reason i say that is because i think the immigrant experience combined with the african background, combined with the incredible education, combined with his beautiful speech, that speech was a piece of work. >> i believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us. >> by the time obama entered the senate, he couldn't avoid the question. was he the won who could break
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the barrier and become our first african-american president? >> i do wish that he would run. i do wish he would run. and if he would, i would do everything in my power to campaign for him. >> if obama did decide to run, he wouldn't be the first african-american to try for the white house. in the post-civil rights era, african-americans from al sharpton to jesse jackson to congresswoman shirley chisholm took on the challenge. >> the next time that a minority person or a woman runs for high office in this country, she or he will be regarded as a force to be respected. >> shirley chisholm ran because she wanted to bring issues of women and blacks and challenge the democratic party establishment, and the black leadership establishment. so she ran to raise policy issues like i did many years later. >> chisholm did not win any primaries in 1972, but she did get 152 delegate votes at the convention, an important step forward. when jesse jackson ran in 1984,
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he still confronted history. >> when i ran in '84, the idea met resistance. like, are you serious? you know a black can't run. >> jackson won more than 3 million votes in that election. when he ran again in 1988, the barriers began to shake. he won 13 primaries in caucuses and proved an african-american could win white votes. in 2007, senator obama decided to take the leap and run for the white house. >> when we had a meeting to talk through whether he should run, and michelle said to him, what do you think you can contribute that no one else can contribute? and he said, there are two things i know for sure. the day i get elected, i think the world will look at us differently. and i think millions of young people across this country will look at themselves differently. >> he always said that he didn't think that the outcome of the race would depend upon the color of his skin. he thought that the american people would make their decision
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based on who they thought was best positioned to lead our country. >> obama saw that his youth, he was only 45, his early opposition to the iraq war, and yes, his race could work in his favor. he believed he could win. >> if you sense, as i sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber and slough off our fears and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then i am ready to take up the cause and march with you and work with you. today, together, we can finish the work that needs to be done and usher in a birth of freedom on this earth. s a date. on every one of our cards there's a date. a reminder... that before this date, we have to exceed expectations. we have to find new ways to help make life easier,
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i recognize that there is a
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certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity to this announcement. >> when barack obama declared his candidacy on that freezing february day of 2007, he was far from the likely winner. nor was he the only hopeful out to break an historic barrier. senator hillary clinton was running. she would also be a first, and she, still with herr first lady prestige, her strong support in the party and solid base in new york, was well ahead in the polls. you went into a primary campaign against hillary rodham clinton. how did you see the opportunity to take that on? >> the fact that obama was against the war in iraq, the fact that he was an outsider, not an insider. the fact that he was a conciliator and not a divisive figure. he was clearly the remedy to what people felt was wrong, more so than hillary at the time, who was much more of an establishment candidate. >> to get to the head of the pack, obama focused on building a first class ground campaign,
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especially in the outlying caucus states. >> you're cleaning and you've got my button on. you know when i said, yes, we can, i didn't mean dusting. >> he used social media better than the other campaigns to create a network of the young, excited, and savvy. >> i'm with students for barack obama. >> obama's appeal to the under-30 crowd was one of his biggest assets. >> obama's so amazing. i almost cried, like, when i heard his speech. >> the youngest and by far the coolest candidate in the race, he almost seemed to be one of them. >> i'm ready. actor kal penn joined the campaign early on in iowa after hearing obama speak at a los angeles fund-raiser. >> to me, what was most inspiring was not his race or ethnicity, but here the fact that here was a guy who was a little bit younger and an outsider to his party and the presidency in general. it was a fresh perspective that he would bring. >> one of the keys to obama's appeal was his opposition to the war in iraq. he had spoken out against it early.
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>> what i do oppose is a dumb war. >> i didn't trust any of the other candidates, on either side of the aisle, who had either supported the iraq war or voted for the iraq war. so it was a big factor in my getting involved and in i think a lot of young people getting involved. >> throughout the fall, obama worked small rooms across iowa and new hampshire, clearly connecting with the mostly white electorate. >> thank you! >> be courageous. >> thank you, i will. thank you. >> you read some of those early speeches and rallies. do you remember the feeling you had in the room hearing barack obama for the first time? >> it was really a physically tangible feeling in the room, of excitement, of inspiration, of hope and possibility for change. and i think that was the sense that we were really here in the presence of somebody who's a new kind of leader. >> are you fired up?! ready to go?! fired up! ready to go? fired up!
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ready to go? >> ready to go! >> so am i. >> on january 3rd, 2008, these fired up voters swept obama to victory in the iowa caucuses. >> they said this day would never come. >> he had beaten john edwards by eight points. senator clinton had come in third. >> we are choosing hope over fear. we're choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to america. >> but winning iowa didn't clear obama's path to the nomination. he struggled to reach working class whites while the hearts of older women were with hillary clinton. >> the next president of the united states, hillary clinton! >> five days after iowa, obama lost narrowly the clinton in new hampshire. it was going to be a long, brutal contest for the nomination. >> i am still fired up and ready to go. >> obama's appeal to voters was undeniable, as he campaigned around the country. he was often joined by his
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debonair family. >> hi! >> sasha, do you want to say hi? >> hi! >> so what do we want to ask everybody to do on tuesday? >> vote for daddy! >> the american culture is really a culture that is obsessed with possibility. tomorrow we'll be better, tomorrow we'll be richer, tomorrow we'll be bigger, tomorrow we'll solve our problems. and barack obama really seized hold of that fundamental motif in american culture. >> when we cast aside the doubts and the fears, when we don't accept what the cynics tell us we have to accept, but instead we reach for what is possible. >> one thing that republicans, i think, miss about barack obama is the fact that he inspired like no other political figure of this generation. and i've always thought that to
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a large degree, it was bobby kennedy's unfinished candidacy. the enthusiasm, the emotion of the electorate, of his supporters. >> during the primaries, obama's kennedy-esque ability to inspire voters wasn't lost on the kennedys themselves. overriding a long history with the clintons, ted kennedy endorsed obama. >> every time i've been asked, over the past year, who i would support in the democratic primary, my answer has always been the same. i'll support the candidate who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country's best days are still to come. >> did you get the sense that he was not physically, but sort of spiritually passing the torch to president obama? >> well, teddy didn't like to pass any torches on, so i think that he was so thrilled to have a partner.
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i think he thought the future would be so fantastic for him and all the issues that he cared about. >> i remember another such time in the 1960s when i came to the senate at the age of 30. we had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier. >> the parallels of a young senator who was breaking down barriers connected so personally to my father with his brother being another young president, a time when people didn't believe he could be elected because of his religion. and now we were facing this question again, whether someone could be elected based upon their race. >> despite obama's popularity and victories, the question was still open. would america be able to overcome its history and break through this centuries-old barrier? could the country choose someone with roots in africa as its leader? i don't spend money on gasoline. i don't have to use gas.
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i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. drive around town all the time doing errands and never ever have to fill up gas in the city. i very rarely put gas in my chevy volt. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago. the last time i went to the gas station must have been about three months ago. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. ♪ ♪ i can do anything ♪ i can do anything today ♪ i can go anywhere ♪ i can go anywhere today ♪ la la la la la la la [ male announcer ] dow solutions help millions of people by helping to make gluten free bread that doesn't taste gluten free. together, the elements of science and the human element can solve anything. solutionism. the new optimism. how did i get here? dumb luck? or good decisions?
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i get all my friends' pics as soon as they take them. really? you just missed an awesome dance off between the dads. oh... wow! (laughing) you just missed the cake fight. seriously? everyone's taking pictures like they're paparazzi. are we missing that? we're not, check it out. aww, yeah, haha. excuse me. vo: get all your friends' photos automatically with share shot on the galaxy s3. hey! first dance! are you kidding me??? the main reason i'm here today is to say thank you. >> early in the 2008 campaign, barack obama and hillary clinton traveled to selma, alabama, to commemorate together a troubling page of american history. on this bridge, in 1965, protesters marching for the basic right to vote were beaten with a venlgs.
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>> we think of our era now as being polarized and rough and tumble. but not long ago, warfare was more real. >> two weeks after the beatings in bold defiance of local authorities, martin luther king led 3,000 marchers over that bridge. when they reached montgomery days later, 25,000 marched with king. and that summer, congress passed the voting rights act. >> the '64 civil rights act was a huge u.s. government intervention into the hard-core racial segregation. in 1965, the voting rights act of 65, was the real game changer. >> the act banned literacy tests and other jim crow laws to keep blacks from the voting booth. these had been the airtight ways to keep the descecents of slave
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from having clout at the voting box. >> 70% of african-americans down to world war ii lived in the 11 states of the former confederacy. their voter participation rates were in the 4% or 5% range. there really is little to no black presence in the political system, between roughly the 1870s and the 1950s. >> after the civil war and the e emancipation proclamation, there was a brief period of political engagement. there was hundreds of blacks elected to office. some became members of congress. but whites soon retook power in the south. by the turn of the century, congress was once again whites-only. those jim crow laws made it so. >> american history bent away from justice, decisively away from justice, of course, in the wake of reconstruction and the creation of an american apartheid system, the jim crow system, which lasted for at least two generations in the south. >> for a lot of people, especially younger people, this
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is all from the history books. but this is the world i remember. >> their cause must be our cause too. >> the civil rights struggle and the federal legislation of 1964 and '65 opened the door for blacks to enter politics again. gradually at first, but by the mid-1970s, there was a steady stream of dually elected african-american city officials, state reps, members of congress, mayors. >> so from '68 to '08 was a 40-year history of really learning and engaging in the political process. out of that emerges president barack. he came in running the last lap, a tremendous last lap, of a four-year race. >> i'm here because somebody marched for our freedom. i'm here because y'all sacrificed for me. i stand on the shoulders of that. >> barack obama was not running to be a civil rights leader.
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selma helped make his possible, but don't confuse those that paid the price with those that are supposed to take that price and govern. >> despite his visit to selma, obama didn't spend much time discussing his race during the campaign. his strong candidacy was the historic statement. >> race was very, very complicated. barack obama wanted to make race speech as early as the iowa caucuses and his campaign said, you know what, let's not do that. i think everybody can see that you're black. >> one of the ironies, i think, of my dear brother, barack obama, now president obama's victory, was that we have a relative moratorium on serious discussions of race. and that's partly because his strategy -- his strategy was to evade issues of race. >> but in march 2008, explosive videos of obama's pastor, jeremiah wright, hit the airwaves. >> no, no, no. not god bless america, god
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[ muted ] america! >> the reaction was damning. reverend wright had officiated at obama's wedding and baptized his children. the association threatened to derail everything. but obama seized the chance. to explain his ties to wright, he spoke to a broader, tougher topic -- race in america. >> the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through. >> the fact that he wrote it in about 12 hours speaks volumessi. >> it was a gamble, but it worked. obama went on to clinch the democratic nomination. in the general election that fall, his republican opponent chose not to engage in the race question. >> there was a tremendous debate in the republican party about
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how to use the reverend wright, for example, as a political weapon in the campaign and senator mccain was against doing it, because when you light the match on these issues, it's not possible to control where it goes. and we understood that. we were never prouder of john mccain when he would, you know, take the microphone back. >> i can't trust obama. i have read about him, and he's not -- he's not -- he's a -- um -- he's an arab. he is not -- >> no, no ma'am -- >> no? >> no, ma'am. he's a decent, family man, citizen, that i just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about. he's not. thank you. >> in the end, obama's message of hope for the future proved more potent than the past. >> you grew up during the civil
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rights movement, you've seen this history come to pass. were you surprised that this country was capable of moving to elect an african-american president at this period in our history? >> no, i wasn't surprised. i was relieved. but i wasn't surprised. and i still had that nagging feeling. but just campaign around the country, it was clear to me, america has moved, man. >> obama's election to the presidency was seen by many of us as a triumph for america itself. ever since 1776, we had recited, almost as a prayer, our belief that all men are created equal. the election of 2008 elevated that well-understood creed to a practice of faith. but now obama had to meet the challenge of governing. the task of confronting the worst financial crash since the great depression. it would make his hard-fought campaign just the beginning. ♪
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i'm milissa rehberger. here's what's happening. president obama toured storm-ravaged areas of louisiana earlier. after surveying recovery efforts, he thanked local authorities, fema, and rescue workers. mitt romney spent labor day vacationing in new hampshire where he was photographed out boating. he visited louisiana on friday. and democrats are gearing up for the start of their party's convention tomorrow. nancy pelosi spent part of her day visiting the site in charlotte where she will address delegates this week. now back to our special. barack obama's journey to his inauguration in january 2009 took the same route to washington as abraham lincoln in 1861. >> watch the big step! >> the vice president-elect boarded the train in wilmington, delaware, and reflected on the race riots he had witnessed from the same spot 40 years earlier.
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>> part of the city was burned down after dr. king was killed. and the train station was occupied by the national guard. and here i am, thinking, my god, anything is possible, man. anything is possible. >> when they got to washington, more than a million people crowded on to the national mall. they had come to witness the inauguration of the country's first black president. hundreds of millions watched from afar, yes, in awe at the history being made. >> i, barack hussein obama, do solemnly swear -- >> but even as the new president took the oath, the grand expectations of this historic occasion were clashing with the fierce urgency of the challenges. >> starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking america. >> probably no one since roosevelt has entered office
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with that sense of crisis, that sense of burden. >> the problems waiting for him on the oval office desk included two wars, a broken health care system, an economy on the verge of collapse, millions facing foreclosure, a jobless rate spiking relentlessly skyward. >> tomorrow we're expecting another dismal jobs report on. the to have the 2.6 million jobs that we lost last year. we've lost half a million jobs each month for the last two months. >> but while all agreed on its ferocity, the crisis failed to unite a polarized country. despite a highly vocal opposition, the president managed to push through the biggest economic stimulus in history. >> there you go. it's done. >> not a single republican in the house voted yea on the stimulus package, just a trio of senators. >> this is the epitome, the epitome of what i came here to stop. >> the stimulus, and the $80 billion auto rescue that
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followed, burned through much of the political capital obama had hoped to cash for health care reform, a key promise he had made to the american people. >> madam speaker -- >> the president of the united states! >> but with the economy still on shaky ground, obama decided this wassen issue he needed to take on early in his presidency, or forfeit it entirely. like ronald reagan before him, he knew the only way to make history was to make it fast. >> the time for bickering is over. the time for games has passed. now is the season for action. now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together and show the american people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. now is the time to deliver on health care. >> opposition to the bill was boiling hot, from the floor of the congress. >> the reforms i'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. >> you lie!
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>> in town hall meetings across the country -- >> my whole family does not believe in this bill. we want the government out of our business, now. >> and outside the capital, before the vote. >> kill the bill! kill the bill! >> but in march 2010, the president prevailed, and signed the affordable care act into law. >> today, after almost a century of trying, today, after over a year of debate, today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the united states of america. >> it was, as the vice president whispered in his ear, a truly historic achievement. >> this is a big deal. >> but the victory served notice to republicans that if this president didn't get their help, they'd still get things done, big things. republicans vowed to fight him
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every step of the way. >> over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny president obama a second term. >> stop cap and tax! >> meanwhile, across the country, a new political force was mobilizing, the tea party movement, who aimed to push the government further to the right. >> stop spending money, now. >> in the 2010 midterm elections, the republicans, many backed by the tea party, won the house and weakened the democrats in the senate. most of these freshman came to washington now, not to meet and negotiate, but to demolish a government they saw as bloated, rotten, tyrannical. >> the reason we came here, the new freshman are here, is because the american people said, enough. >> can you hear us now? >> sometimes the opposition to the president took an uglier, even racist tone. false claims first heard during
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the campaign reemerged, questioning obama's religion, denying he was born in the country. >> he is not an american citizen! he is a citizen of kenya! >> did it surprise you that at this point in our history, they would try to de-americanize this guy? did it surprise him? >> you know, i think he was -- it struck him as absurd. and i think it strikes a majority of americans as absurd. >> we posted the certification that is given by the state of hawaii on the internet, for everybody to see. people have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate. and yet, this thing just keeps on going. >> he's almost like jackie robinson was in baseball. you have to have not only the guy that could play the game, but the guy that could withstand the catcalls and the "n" words being called from the stand. >> despite the personal attacks coming from the far right, obama was more widely seen as an
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american success story. >> all right, ready? [ blows whistle ] >> the sight of the first family in the white house, partly built with the work and sweat of slaves, is a reminder of what this presidency means to history. >> when you see that shot of the president and the first lady with the two first daughters, walking across the white house lawn, a scene you have seen a thousand times before, but now you're seeing it with an african-american family. it expands our library, our mental library, of what's possible. >> but it will be his record in office that ultimately defines barack obama's historic rank. >> hello, detroit! >> the administration counts the rescue of the auto industry among its biggest successes. gm and chrysler went from bankruptcy to new profitability, with gm reclaiming the title of the world's biggest automaker. but the economic engine of the country itself had yet to roar. the president's policies may
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have prevented another great depression, but americans remain hungry for a robust recovery. >> if you look at the things that the president's accomplished, i would say it's a fair amount of the things that he wanted to get done. increasing pell grants, american opportunity tax credit, 2.5 million young people have health care now. there is a long list. the problem is, that long list, it doesn't happen overnight and it's not sort of checked off as it happens. >> and the biggest achievement of obama's first term, the landmark health care bill, was reaffirmed by the right-leaning supreme court. while the focus on obama's record has mostly been on his domestic policies, the president's impact on the world has been a game changer. >> obama! obama! dnnks hi i hainmybdomen..itwo
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i am very pleased to be in london. moscow. strasbourg. mexico. japan. >> in his first year as president, barack obama undertook more foreign trips than any president before him, traveling to over 20 countries. the new american leader was ginning up global backing for an ambitious world agenda that included winding down two wars, dealing with an ever-turbulent middle east, limiting the nuclear threats from iran, but also north korea, and ratcheting up the hunt for osama bin laden. in june 2009, the president traveled to egypt to speak at cairo university. it was an historic effort to turn the page on america's troubled ties to the arab world. >> i've come here to cairo to seek a new beginning between the united states and muslims around the world. >> you travel a great deal on behalf of the president. what has it done to our international image? >> overnight, it's changed it, and we went from being one of the least respected to the most
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respected. >> the very qualities in obama that made the hard right recoil, a diverse international upbringing, his cultural fluency, made him widely popular worldwide. just how hopeful president obama made the rest of the world became clear in october 2009. >> the nobel peace prize for 2009 is to be awarded to president barack obama. >> the nobel is a hugely prestigious honor, but for many, especially president obama, it came from out of the blue. >> he responded with shock. the exact quote is not exactly printable in a newspaper. i think and he may be even felt like, this is a little early, i haven't done anything yet, folks. >> i am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the nobel committee. >> the honor served to ratchet up expectations for the young president that were already high. >> and you know, he has filled
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the world with hope. people, i mean, are feeling different. we are seeing an america that is not a bully. for that, he deserves it. but i think more than that, it says to hip, become what you are. >> but obama was now commander in chief of the biggest military force in the world, one actively waging two wars. just before accepting his award, obama sent an additional 30,000 troops to afghanistan, seeking to reverse recent setbacks there. he was betting on an iraq-style surge to protect our departure from the country. >> i do not make this decision lightly. i make this decision because i am convinced that our security is at stake in afghanistan and pakistan. >> despite his nobel peace prize, the president was far from turning swords into plow shares. he disappointed some of his liberal supporters when he failed to keep his promise to close the prison at guantanamo bay, extended the patriot act,
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and expanded the use of unmanned drones to hunt al qaeda. but in the spring of 2011 came the daring cross-border mission that won him praise across the political spectrum. intelligence operatives had reported that america's number one enemy, osama bin laden, was possibly hiding in a safe house in pakistan. elite navy s.e.a.l.s were prepared to go in, if the president so ordered. but it was a tough call. the mission would require invading pakistan's sovereign territory. intelligence put the odds at 50/50 that bin laden was even there. if the mission did not succeed, it would be a disaster in political terms to rival desert one, jimmy carter's failed effort to rescue the iranian hostages in 1980. it would be much safer to launch a drone attack, but also less sure, because we'd never be certain we'd gotten our man. >> i will tell you that there are moments in your presidency,
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and i think this is true of every president, presidents i admire, presidents i've been critical of, where you really do put politics aside. where you have great clarity about the profound privilege and responsibility of this office. certainly, we thought about the fact that if there was a failure here, it would have disastrous consequences for me politically. we knew the examples of the carter presidency and we understood what happened there. but i tell you, the only thing that i was thinking about throughout this entire enterprise was, i really want to get those guys back home safe. >> there were people who had said, let's not do this. let's wait. let's give it a little more time. so he had made a really tough call, and i think so much, so much hinged on that. >> as the world now knows, the
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mission was a success. >> tonight, i can report to the american people and to the world that the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden, the leader of al qaeda. >> in december 2011, obama was able to claim another key achievement. after nine years and thousands of lost american lives, the iraq war officially came to an end. one of obama's most important campaign promises had been kept. >> the last american soldier will cross the border out of iraq with their heads held high and proud of their success in knowing that the american people stand united in our support for our troops. >> the country was still engaged in afghanistan, with what seemed no end in sight. then on the one-year anniversary of osama bin laden's death, in may 2012, the president made a
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surprise visit to bagram air force base in afghanistan. >> the reason that the afghans have an opportunity for a new tomorrow is because of you. >> there he signed a deal to withdraw american combat troops by the end of 2014. >> tonight i would like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in afghanistan. >> it's easier to start wars than the end them. the challenge obama faced was to do it in a way that met america's commitments and met a credible standard of success. one is for a clean, wedomestic energy future that puts us in control. our abundant natural gas is already saving us money, producing cleaner electricity, putting us to work here in america and supporting wind and solar. though all energy development comes with some risk, we're committed to safely and responsibly producing natural gas. it's not a dream. america's natural gas... putting us in control of our energy future, now.
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in may 2012, barack obama took another step towards historic significance. he became the first president to declare his support for same-sex marriage. he chose to do it in an interview with "good morning america's" robin roberts. >> i think same-sex couples should be able to get married. >> the president was pushed, it appeared to everyone, by his
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vice president's full-hearted backing of gay marriage on nbc news's "meet the press" three days earlier. obama had already overturned the pentagon's don't ask, don't tell policy, opening the military to gays. while his administration also refused to defend the defense of marriage act, the federal law defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman. now he'd taken the historic step. >> the president has said, loud and clear, that we are as equal as any family in this country, and it's really historic and momentous, and it makes me feel proud. >> hello! >> as barack obama nears the end of four years as president, america has become used to something extraordinary, an african-american president in the white house. >> the woman who took care of me when i was a small boy was this african-american woman named jessie berry. i think about her a lot, because she couldn't have imagined that 5-year-old would be working 20 feet from the oval office, but
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imagine what she would think that the president i work for is an african-american man named barack obama. >> we had ruby bridges visit the white house not long ago, because we had the norman rockwell painting of her integrating her school in alabama. and the president stood there with her, and she said, ruby, because of your courage at the age of 5 or 6, i'm here today. >> president obama is the product of our turbulent history. all that came before led to him. but it's become clear over the past four years that he needs to continue making history. the moment he become just another incumbent president, bogged down in the status quo, he will lose something vital since we first met him -- his historic self. >> we don't know how the american people, or for that matter, historians, will judge president obama, because every president gets judges in relation to events. >> he's secured as the first african-american president, but i think that his goal is o to be
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a great president who's also african-american. >> obama entered office at a time of grave crisis. four years later, he's running for re-election with a record of accomplishments, but also partisan frustrations, much of it directed by his enemies. >> when he ran in 2008, senator obama was just this blank slate for most people. you know, and he could paint this beautiful vision of the country for us. in november, he will have only had four years to do something with that, and people will judge that. >> with the november election ahead, barack obama's presidency continues as a turning point in history. will the country go with him? >> his presidency will go down in history alongside of people like lyndon johnson and franklin roosevelt, in terms of its success in major legislative agendas. >> things are so much better
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because he won. the whole world sees america differently because he won. >> coming from where he did, he is now the president of the united states. that means that people of color, women, everyone can dream big dreams. >> i still believe in you. and i hope you still believe in me. because i told you in 2008, i may not be a perfect man and i'm not a perfect president, but i'll always tell you what i think and where i stand, and i wake up every single day, thinking about you and how i can make your lives better and your kids' lives better. we're going to finish what we started in 2008. we're going to get this country moving. we're going to be going forward and remind the entire world just why it is the united states is the greatest nation on earth. thank you, everybody! god bless you. >> when the day comes that


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