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The Candidates On Campaign Disillusion

For the series "Primary Questions: Character, Leadership & The Candidates," CBS News anchor Katie Couric asked the leading presidential candidates questions designed to go beyond politics and show what really makes them tick.

For the latest installment, Couric asks the candidates about what they think is the most disillusioning part of running for president.

Also, check out the candidates' full responses to the previous questions in our "Primary Questions" video library.

Couric: What is the most disillusioning part of running for president?

Edwards: It's extraordinarily hard … for the American people to hear in real substance what you want to do as president - and to understand it. Because what tends to happen is these presidential races become superficial glitz, glamour contests, you know. Who's getting the most attention at some point in time. Basically I think what happens is a storyline gets developed very quickly and the media hops on that storyline, and that drives the national news for periods of time. And ... whether it's reality or not, it still drives the national news. That's what people hear. And they don't see the long-term picture.

Couric: What is the most disillusioning part of running for president?

Giuliani: How hard it is to stay on the substance, because that is what I believe most of us who do this, whether we're Republicans or Democrats, enjoy the most. It's the solving of problems. What are we going to do about the budget? What are we going to do about Iraq? Iran? How are we going to deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan? The substantive part of this is why we're all involved in it and you don't get to discuss it that much. And when you do, you're basically told, you know, stop it and put that in a sound bite, right?

Couric: What is the most disillusioning part of running for president?

Huckabee: The pettiness; the sheer pettiness in which people want to parse every syllable. And they want to take everything you say in jest as some serious remark you have made. The loss of sense of humor. I'm not going to give up on being a human being. I don't want to be robotic. If you want a vending machine, vote for one. I'm not. I'm not going to be one. And I've just had to decide early on in this election that I'm going to be who I am; say what I want to say. Sometimes I may have to apologize for some of the stuff because I'm going to say what I think at that moment … but I'm not going to go around and have a committee first approve everything that I say before I say it.

Couric: What is the most disillusioning part of running for president?

Romney: Well, you know the challenge is, of course, being represented honestly and fairly. And that's just the nature of politics. When your beliefs are turned, are twisted, or when your record is adjusted in a way that's not complimentary and then people turn you down for those reasons, that can be frustrating. But look, I got into this with my eyes wide open. I mean, I watched my dad run for president. I ran for Senate against Ted Kennedy for Pete's sake. He taught me a lot of lessons. I ran for governor of Massachusetts, so this hasn't been a surprise. It's just part of the political process. It's unfortunate but its part of a democracy.

Couric: What is the most disillusioning part of running for president?

Clinton: You know, there's so much emphasis on who's up, who is down and what they said, how they're combating this or that with each other. We're always interested in the minutia or details behind the scenes. I hope the press, the pundits, all of the commentators listen to what people are asking us. I'm asked "how are we going to get health care for people who need it?" I'm asked about the real-world issues. That's been my experience for 16 years.

Couric: What is the most disillusioning part of running for president?

Obama: Once you start running for United States Senate or a big national office, I think you start getting a sense of, you know, the less attractive aspects of running, particularly fundraising, you know, dialing for dollars and asking strangers for money. That is the least attractive aspect of it and the one I'd like to change the most. I have to spend quite a bit of time going to fund raisers and eating chicken dinners. And some of that time I would rather be spending talking to workers or, you know, studying the latest policy ideas that would make a difference in the lives of ordinary people.

Couric: What is the most disillusioning part of running for president?

McCain: I know the ups and downs. I know what you have to do. I know about the long days. Nobody forces you to do it. The only thing that maybe disappoints me, to be honest with you, is some people who you think are going to support you end up supporting someone else. The key is to maintain a very steady, as much as possible, emotional outlook so that when things go good, you don't get excited and when things go bad, you don't get too depressed. But look, I am a guy that stood fifth from the bottom of his class in the Naval Academy. If my old company officer were here, he'd say "in America, anything is possible."

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