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Will Obama Get To Keep His Blackberry?

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
On the campaign trail, President-elect Barack Obama was famous for constantly checking his Blackberry to keep up with friends and campaign staff. But a few weeks ago reports surfaced that he would have to give up the device over security and political concerns. No president in the Internet age so far has had his own e-mail account.

But Mr. Obama has a message to those who want to take his cherished Blackberry: Not So Fast.

In an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, Mr. Obama said he's still "fighting" to keep it.

"They're going to pry it out of my hands," he said. "It's the hardest thing about being president… How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life?"

"I don't know that I'll win," he adds. "I'm still fighting it… It's not just the flow of information. I mean, I can get somebody to print out clips for me, and I can read newspapers. What it has to do with is having mechanisms where you are interacting with people who are outside of the White House in a meaningful way. And I've got to look for every opportunity to do that -- ways that aren't scripted, ways that aren't controlled, ways where, you know, people aren't just complimenting you or standing up when you enter into a room, ways of staying grounded."

Here's a transcript of the whole exchange with Harwood, in which Mr. Obama also talks about the now famous shirtless picture of him while he was vacationing in Hawaii.

HARWOOD: Speaking of trying to avoid the dangers of the bubble, you still got one of these in your pocket?

President-elect Obama: You know, I actually took it out as a consequence of this interview, but I'm still clinging to my BlackBerry. They're going to pry it out of my hands.

HARWOOD: Well, are you, in fact, going to overcome this idea as anachronistic that presidents can't use the most modern...

President-elect Obama: Well, here's what I think I can get. I think I'm going to be able to get access to a computer somewhere. It may not be right in the Oval Office. The second thing I'm hoping to do is to see if there's someway that we can arrange for me to continue to have access to a BlackBerry. I know that...

HARWOOD: As of this moment, you still have your BlackBerry.

President-elect Obama: As of this moment, I still do. This is a concern, I should add, not just of Secret Service, but also lawyers. You know, this town's full of lawyers. I don't know if you've noticed...

HARWOOD: Yeah.

President-elect Obama: ...and they have a lot of opinions. And so I'm still in a scuffle around that, but it--look, it's the hardest thing about being president.

HARWOOD: Yeah.

President-elect Obama: How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life? You know, when we were on vacation in Hawaii, I was greatly discouraged from going body surfing. Going to get shave ice was a major ordeal. And you know...

HARWOOD: Well, were you told not to walk outside without your shirt on?

President-elect Obama: Well, the--I learned of that after the first day. But I think that...

HARWOOD: Was that--was that an embarrassment to you? Or do you care? You got a lot of commentary about that.

President-elect Obama: You know, it was--it was silly, but, you know, silliness goes with this job.

HARWOOD: You got some flattery for that.

President-elect Obama: Well, you know, the--my wife was tickled by me blushing. Anyway, what point was I making here, John? We got sidetracked by the...

HARWOOD: You were saying that it looks like you're going to maybe tussle to keep your BlackBerry.

President-elect Obama: I don't know that I'll win, but I'm still--I'm still fighting it. And--but here's the point I was making, I guess, is that it's not just the flow of information. I mean, I can get somebody to print out clips for me, and I can read newspapers. What it has to do with is having mechanisms where you are interacting with people who are outside of the White House in a meaningful way. And I've got to look for every opportunity to do that--ways that aren't scripted, ways that aren't controlled, ways where, you know, people aren't just complimenting you or standing up when you enter into a room, ways of staying grounded. And if I can manage that over the next four years, I think that will help me serve the American people better because I'm going to be hearing their voices. They're not going to be muffled as a consequence of me being in the White House.

For the whole CNBC interview, Click here.
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