In an exclusive interview earlier today, CBS News anchor Katie Couric asked President-elect Barack Obama about the questions surrounding his pick for Treasury chief, Timothy Geithner, as well as how he'll work with Congress as president. Also: What did Mr. Obama say would be his No. 1 priority as president? And what was his reaction to the purported bin Laden tape?
What follows is excerpts from the interview (and a short video clip) – but be sure to watch the CBS Evening News tonight for more.
Katie Couric: A new Osama bin Laden tape was released. And in it he taunted President Bush.
President-elect Barack Obama: Right.
Couric: and basically called for a new jihad to stop the aggression on Gaza. What will you do differently to bring Osama bin Laden to justice?
Mr. Obama: Well, I think … I talked frequently during this campaign that we took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq. And now it's done. My job is to withdraw in a responsible way from Iraq and stabilize the situation there.
But our real focus has to be on Afghanistan, the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we have to put as much pressure on them as possible. I've already spoken to my National Security team about how we're going to do that. And I'm confident that we can keep them on the run and ensure that they cannot train terrorists to attack our homeland. That's my No. 1 priority as President of the United States.
Couric: How important do you think it is, Mr. President-elect, to apprehend Osama bin Laden?
Mr. Obama: I think that we have to so weaken his infrastructure that, whether he is technically alive or not, he is so pinned down that he cannot function. My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America.
You'll see the rest of the interview on CBS News' primetime special, Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20 at 9 p.m. ET.