We flew to Chicago last Thursday to interview one of Senator Obama's most trusted advisers, Valerie Jarrett. She has been a close friend of Barack and Michelle Obama for almost two decades. And when she's not on the road campaigning with them, she's probably focusing on her day job as CEO of a real estate company.
The profile ran tonight but here's part of the interview that didn't make it into the piece for timing reasons. In this section, Jarrett talks about Senator Obama's greatest strength and biggest weakness -- although not surprisingly she's not as forthcoming about the weakness part.
Obama's "Other Half"
Katie Couric: What do you think his greatest strength is?
Valerie Jarrett: Start with this, kind of core decency and empathy to mankind. You know, Barack grew up with very humble roots. His mom had him when she was 18. His father deserted him when he was just barely two. His mom was on food stamps, really struggling. And, yet, she was a very kind and warm person. She gave him love, as did his grandparents who helped raise him. But they also had very high expectations of him. And I think that childhood grounded him and gave him a world perspective, having lived all over the world. I think he is able to connect with just an enormous range of people. He's sensitive. He's extraordinarily perceptive and he's a very good listener. And I also think when you find people who are extremely intelligent, they think they have all of the answers but that's not Barack at all. He's always has this insatiable appetite for new information. All of which, I think, has made him the truly extraordinary man that he is.
Katie Couric: Ok. Weakness. What is his --
Valerie Jarrett: Well, you know — I just have to think about that but I probably wouldn't want to share them with the world. I'll just keep those between the two of us. So I'd prefer to say we'll work on those weaknesses. But mostly, I mean, he, in seriousness, he really is one of the most extraordinary people that I've met. He's kind of constantly growing and learning. And never satisfied with just, you know, how much he knows today. It's what I can I learn tomorrow? How much further can I push and probe and bring out the best in people.