Interview with President Obama: The full transcript

Steve Kroft questions the president on a wide range of critical topics, including his performance in office, the U.S. economy and unemployment, and the budget woes in Washington

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And that's the question that people are gonna be presented with. And I welcome that debate. I think it's a healthy debate for the country to have. And I think it's a debate we can win. Because I am absolutely convinced that the vision I'm presenting is one that is true to the history of this country. And that's part of what I was talking about in this Kansas speech. It's true to the notion that we rise or fall together. And that, you know, when we are firing on all cylinders, because the guy on the factory floor and the guy on the executive suite are both doing well and they're both focused on making great American products and providing great American services and exporting around the world... That's the recipe for success that I think the American people are hungry for. It's just, right now, they haven't seen enough of it yet.

KROFT: You definitely have some impressive accomplishments.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Steve.

KROFT: No, you do. And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get reelected. My question is, is it enough? Why do you think you deserve to be reelected?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think under some extraordinary circumstances, we not only saved the country from a potential disaster -- not only did we manage our national security at a time where there were severe threats and two wars going on, in a way that has made America stronger and more respected and put us in a better strategic position around the world and almost decimated our number one enemy, which is al Qaeda -- but what I've also been able to do is to, in very practical ways, put in place a series of steps that will allow middle-class families and those trying to get in the middle class to take back some of what they've lost over the last couple of years. Now, we're not there yet, but what I can say unequivocally is that everything I've done, every single day, and everything I will do as long as I'm in this office is designed to make sure that every kid in America has the same opportunities that I had.

Because I didn't come from privilege. I've said before and I mean this -- this is the only country on Earth where my story is possible. And if I, as the child of a single mom, raised by a couple of grandparents -- one of whom would never have got more than a high school degree, the other of whom got some college because of the G.I. Bill -- was able to succeed. And my wife, who was the daughter of a blue-collar worker and a secretary was able to become First Lady of the United States.

I want to make sure that that continues to be true for every child born in this country. And I don't think there's gonna be anybody out there who feels that more passionately or more personally, and who's gonna fight harder for those families, because they're my family. And they're my family's family. And they're Michelle's family. And ultimately, I think that the American people, as frustrated as they are, are gonna say to themselves, "You know what? This guy's on our side. He's fighting for us." Because I am.

KROFT: Look, political campaigns are hard, being president's hard. Even among some of your supporters, strongest supporters, there is a sense, a little sense of disappointment. That they thought that you were gonna be bolder. That you were gonna take more steps. That you were gonna work outside the box, so to speak. Be a little unconventional. And they think you've been too cautious. That you've just kind of played it by the numbers.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That's opposed to my critics, who think I've been this radical socialist. Look, Steve, you know, there was actually a good article written a while back, taking a look at the old press clips from every Democratic president, dating back to Franklin Roosevelt, including Roosevelt. And, you know, nobody was happy with them. Nobody was happy with them. You know?

Bill Clinton, who's beloved by the Democratic Party, at this point -- and I consider to be an extraordinarily successful president -- you look at his old press clippings, he was getting beat up with some of the same stuff I was getting beat up with.