Obama: Election year politics hurting progress

President Obama said he would reach a compromise with Republicans on the budget if re-elected.
President Obama said he would reach a compromise with Republicans on the budget if re-elected.
CBS News

(CBS News) ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Another credit ratings agency threatened Tuesday to downgrade the U.S. government's credit rating. Moody's Investors Service said they will do that unless the White House and Congress can reach a deal on taxes, spending and the debt. The national debt just topped at least $16 million and counting -- with no end in sight

The first downgrade of America's credit rating happened when President Barack Obama and the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, failed to agree last year on a "grand bargain" debt deal to address overspending.

In an interview with CBS News, President Obama said that if he is re-elected, he'll reach a compromise with Republicans.

During a campaign bus tour in Florida, the president talked about that and the sharp division in America that makes this race so close.

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Below is a transcript of part of the interview that aired Tuesday night.

Scott Pelley: I wonder why you think this country is so evenly divided. Why have we become a red country and a blue country?

President Barack Obama: Sometimes politics gets a little more heated. Passions rise. And, you know, I think what Americans are looking for -- it's not so much that they're divided ideologically. I think they just wanna see us make progress and do what works.

Pelley: You don't believe the country is ideologically divided?

President Obama: There's a segment of the country that's deeply divided. It'd be hard to put a number on it. I suspect that there's 30 percent hard core Republicans, 30 percent hardcore Democrats. And then you've just got a lot of folks who spend most of their time thinking about -- "How do I pay my bills?" And more than anything I think what people would like to see is an end to political maneuvering in Washington and more of a focus on getting the job done.

Pelley: Have you buried the hatchet with [House Speaker John Boehner]?

President Obama: You know there never was a -- I like the speaker personally, actually. You know, I actually think that he is a good and decent man who I think wants to do the right thing for the country. His challenge is that there's a wing of his caucus now that is prominent, vocal and thinks compromise is a dirty word. And he hasn't been able to control that caucus.

Pelley: You have a working relationship with him?

President Obama: Absolutely.

Pelley: But a lot of people don't think much is working.

President Obama: It's two months before an election. The speaker is obviously supportive of my opponent and his party and he wants to win as many seats as he can. And he's not gonna go out of his way to try to help me or get things done that he thinks I may be able to take credit for.

Pelley (narration): If re-elected, Mr. Obama is likely to face the same Republican majority in the House, with difficult negotiations ahead.

Pelley: The rap on you from some people is that you have a very sharp analytical mind, but you can be aloof. More Woodrow Wilson than Lyndon Johnson. And I wonder whether you think your personality gets in the way of negotiating with the Congress?

President Obama: If your theory is that the president is your political opponent and our number one goal is to beat him, then it doesn't matter much of a charm offensive I put on, how often I have them over to Super Bowl parties or watch movies in the theater or have a drink on the patio. At a certain point they can't say yes. I've joked in the past to my staff and to some Republicans, "Look, if you want me to come over and wash your car, walk your dog, you know, I'm game if it means that we're actually getting stuff done on behalf of the American people."