One-On-One With The Obamas

CBS News anchor Katie Couric interviews President-elect Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. in anticipation of his inauguration on the primetime special "CHANGE & CHALLENGE: THE INAUGURATION OF BARACK OBAMA" Tuesday January 20 (9 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: CBS CBS

In the days leading up to the inauguration, CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor Katie Couric had the chance to sit down with then President-elect Barack Obama and also, with his wife, Michelle.

They talked about family, their hopes, dreams and, of course, each other.

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I mean, she's the one who always keeps me straight. Yeah, Michelle, has really handled this whole process with extraordinary grace and wisdom. And she's so honest to her core that she's just a breath of fresh air sometimes when I come home and I've been dealing with politics and politicians. And she'll talk to me about my work. But she has the perspective of somebody who's outside it, who's grounded, who thinks of herself as a citizen but also as a mother. And she can ask disarming questions. But she really, I think, can keep me focused. And every day I say how lucky I am to have her.

KATIE COURIC: Will you be there to keep him honest?

MICHELLE OBAMA: Absolutely. What else am I gonna do?

COURIC: That's what you've always done, right?

MICHELLE OBAMA: That's what I've always done.

COURIC: That's what he says, anyway.

MICHELLE OBAMA: That's what he counts on too. I'll be right there every step of the way. And so will Malia and Sasha. They keep him honest. So we'll do our part to make sure that-- that he stays grounded.

COURIC: Do your daughters appreciate the historical significance of your presidency?

BARACK OBAMA: They're not overwhelmed by it. They're not awed by it. I think they understand it. My favorite moment this week was on Saturday. I took Malia and Sasha and Michelle, we all went on a nighttime field trip to the Lincoln Memorial. And I love the memorial at night, you know? Lincoln's statue lit up and you can see all across the Mall down to the Capitol. And so we stand in front of the Gettysburg Address.

And Michelle's explaining to the girls how what Lincoln is saying, that this ground that has been consecrated by the blood of people who fought, means that any words we say are cheap, that they don't mean much, that the only way we can honor them is by making this country more just and more equal.

And at this point, Malia, who's 10, turns to me and she says, "Yeah, how are we doing on that? How are we doing on that, Mr. President-elect?" So then we go to the other side and we're looking at the second inaugural by Lincoln. And Sasha, who's seven, she says, "Oh, that's longer. Are you gonna have to give one of those?" And I say, yeah, I'm gonna have to give one of those. In fact, this is a pretty short one. I explained to her mine might, will probably be longer 'cause I'm not as good a writer as Lincoln. And at which point Malia says "First African-American president, better be good. Have you started yet?" I said, "Thanks, kid." So --

COURIC: Do you feel as if African Americans in this country have reached the dream? Or is it just the beginning?

MICHELLE OBAMA: You know, I think we have come an amazingly long way from the-- from my youth. When I was a child, I-- I would have never dreamed of being this nation's First Lady. I think about my girls. They don't see race in the same way that I grew up seeing it. They think about the world in a much broader sense.
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