Note to readers: “60 Minutes Presents: Barack Obama: Eight Years in the White House” aired on Jan. 15, 2017.
President Barack Obama says sometimes in his presidency he failed to marshal enough public opinion to force his Republican opponents to back off. Losing “the PR battle” was one reason he couldn’t get a hearing for his last Supreme Court nominee, he tells Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on CBS.
The full interview, Obama’s last appearance on network television in a presidential interview, will be part of “60 Minutes Presents: Barack Obama: Eight Years in the White House.” The hour-long program will also follow the 44th president’s journey through his own words in the 60 Minutes interviews he did with Kroft, beginning when Obama declared his candidacy in 2007, through the elections and the milestones of his eight years in the White House.
Below is a transcript of the excerpt that appeared on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.
Steve Kroft:You didn’t change Washington.
President Barack Obama: I changed those things that were in direct-- my direct control. I mean, I-- look, I’m proud of the fact that, with two weeks to go, we’re part of the first administration in modern history that hasn’t had a major scandal in the White House. In that sense, we changed some things. I would’ve liked to have gotten that one last Supreme Court justice in there. I’d like the Supreme Court to take a look at--
Steve Kroft: You couldn’t even get a hearing.
President Barack Obama: But we couldn’t even get a hearing. Trying to get the other side of the aisle to work with us on issues, in some cases, that they professed, originally, an interest in, and saying to them, “Hold on a second. You guys used to think this was a good idea. Now, just because I’m supporting it, you can’t change your mind.” But they did.
And what that did, I think, made me appreciate. And I’ve said this before. But it’s worth repeating. Because this is on me. Part of the job description is also shaping public opinion. And we were very effective, and I was very effective, in shaping public opinion around my campaigns.
But there were big stretches, while governing, where even though we were doing the right thing, we weren’t able to mobilize public opinion firmly enough behind us to weaken the resolve of the Republicans to stop opposing us or to cooperate with us. And there were times during my presidency where I lost the PR battle.