Barack Obama holds a rally in Indianapolis Thursday morning. Indiana hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson. After the rally, the Illinois senator flies to Hawaii to see his ailing grandmother. Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith caught up with Obama Wednesday in Richmond, Va., and asked him about leaving the campaign trail at such a crucial time, with less than two weeks until Election Day. They also discussed comments by Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, that an Obama administration would be tested early by enemies abroad, the rancorous tone of the campaign, the responses of Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain, to major tests they've both faced in recent weeks, and Obama's chances of winning.
Harry Smith: Lincoln said, 'All I ever hoped to be, I'd owe to her,' in speaking about his mother. Your grandmother was very much like a mother to you. How important is this trip?
Barack Obama: It's very important to me. That - my mother was a single mom, so she raised me with the help of my grandparents. And so, my grandmother, my grandfather, and my mom, they're really the people who took care of me, all throughout my childhood. My grandmother's the last one left. She has really been the rock of the family, the foundation of the family. Whatever strength, discipline - that - that I have - it comes from her."
Harry Smith: You've said in the past that you regretted - your own mother's illness - and her death came so quickly. You didn't have time to get back to see her.
Barack Obama: Yeah, got there too late. ... We knew - she wasn't doing well. But you know, the diagnosis was such that we thought we had a little more time, and we didn't. And so I want to make sure that I don't - I don't make - the same mistake twice.
Harry Smith: Some people say there's risk involved in this, with so little time left.
Barack Obama: Yeah, well - the - yeah, I think most people understand - that if you're not - caring for your family - then - you're probably not - the kind of person who's gonna be caring for other people.
Harry Smith: I want to talk about some campaign issues, not the least of which is - your running mate, Joe Biden. ... (He) talked about, 'Well - Barack Obama's gonna be tested, within the first six months.' John McCain jumped on that and said, 'I don't need to be tested. I'm ready.' Are you more ready to be president of the United States than John McCain is?
Barack Obama: I tell - all I can say is this: We've had, over the last couple of months, I think, an interesting series of tests. And - I think that I have been steadier. I think my advisers and my team and my organization, what we've built, has - has performed - with the kind of calm resolve and deliberation that the White House needs right now. Any president is gonna be tested - by the enormity of the challenges that we face.
Harry Smith: The rancorous tone of this campaign - I was with John McCain on Monday, and I said, 'Our poll data shows that it's actually hurting you.' He says, 'I wouldn't be doing it if he weren't doing it.'
Barack Obama (laughing): Well, look. I - I mean - politics is tough. ... But I will say this: I don't think there's any equivalence between what we've been doing and what John McCain's been doing. ... Witness some of the comments that have been made just over the last several months, his last several weeks, 'Socialistic.' You know, 'Pals around with terrorists.' I mean, just - the kinds of stuff that - that I can't imagine saying about an opponent of mine.
Harry Smith: Whoever gets elected president somehow has to put their arm around the whole country and say, 'We're in this together.'
Barack Obama: Yeah.
Harry Smith: Can you do that?
Barack Obama: I can. And I think that's the tone that we've set from the beginning of this campaign. I mean, look. Is - is - is Sean Hannity suddenly gonna get on the airwaves and say, 'You know, I was wrong about this Obama guy. He's - he's my man.' No, that's not gonna happen. I mean, there's gonna be a certain - wing of the Republican party - that is - dug in and resistant to the notion that we need to change direction.
Harry Smith: And you close your eyes for a moment, and you think about Election Night. Do you win?
Barack Obama: Well, I - I wouldn't have gotten into this race if I didn't think I was gonna win. ... If it's tied going into Election Day, I - I like our chances, because I think we've got enormous enthusiasm on the ground.
Smith earlier this week.
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