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Five Takeaways From President Obama's TIME Interview on 'What He Knows Now

(Photo: AP)

TIME Magazine released an extensive interview Thursday by Michael Scherer (formerly of Salon.com and Mother Jones) with President Barack Obama entitled; "What He Knows Now: Obama on Popularity, Partisanship and Getting Things Done in Washington." The piece will be published in the September 10 issue, and features the president's explanation for decisions he made over his first term, what he would do differently in a second term, in addition to what he sees as stark differences between himself and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

During the interview, that was conducted from Air Force One on August 21, President Obama also makes sure to mention former President George W. Bush, Sen. Mitch McConnell's statement on making him a one-term president, and Grover Norquist's infamous "drown [government] in a tub" comment. Here are five interesting take-aways from the Time interview:

  1. President Obama recognizes that if given a second term, he will have to break ground with Republicans who he has not always been able to see eye-to-eye with. The president explained "there will be some popping of the blister" after the 2012 election, for voters will have made a stark choice. The president said he will continue to reach out to Republicans and work with them wherever he can, noting that in the two years since Republicans have taken control of the House, he has been able to work with them for a payroll tax cut, a plan to help hire veterans returning home, and accomplished two major trade deals. That said, President Obama laid out that  "Where Republicans refuse to cooperate on things that I know are good for the American people, I will continue to look for ways to do it administratively and work around Congress."
  2. It would seem that the president believes it was not so much policy mistakes during his first term, but not having enough time to explain his ideas to the American people. "We were in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, so we had to just do stuff fast. And sometimes it wasn’t popular," explained the president, while pointing to the presentation of the Recovery Act and auto bailout."There were all kinds of things we could do to have explained that effectively, but we didn’t have time." Moving forward, President Obama said he wants to make sure the American people understand his policy advocating investments in education, science, infrastructure, and energy. "All those things that help make us grow are compatible with fiscal discipline as long as everybody is doing their fair share," said President Obama.
  3. The president says Republicans have mischaracterized him on tax reform and spending, where he argues the country does not need radical changes. "Look, they love to paint me as this Big Government, tax-and-spend liberal," the president told Time. "The truth is that growth in the federal government is slower than at any time since Dwight Eisenhower." The president argues that the tax reforms he is calling for would "take us back to the tax rates under Bill Clinton for people above $250,000," which equates to an end to the Bush tax cuts for higher income earners. The president said that with his plan, taxes will be lower under his administration than they were under Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan.
  4. Aside from Mitt Romney's family life and work on health care in Massachusetts, President Obama admires Romney's seriousness towards his Christian Faith, and self discipline which the president said is a quality that must have contributed to his opponent's success in private-equity.
  5. President Obama wants to make clear that he has never embraced Citizens United. "What I’ve said is, we can’t unilaterally disarm. I make no apologies for thinking that it’s bad for our democracy when you’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by shadow groups that aren’t accountable to anybody and aren’t even disclosing."

The interview has been a hot topic in the national political discussion Thursday, with the Romney campaign already responding to some of the president's assertions about his first term.

"Just last night, [GOP vice presidential nominee] Paul Ryan clearly communicated that the problem with the Obama Administration is a lack of leadership in the White House, not a lack of empty political rhetoric,” Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams told ABC. "America doesn’t need a storyteller-in-chief.""This is typical of all politicians who run into trouble," MSNBC co-host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough said on Morning Joe as TIME Magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel explained the story Thursday. "They say it's a communications problem---'If the American people were only smart enough to figure out what I'm trying to do for them'..."

President Obama is set to hit the road Friday for five straight days of campaigning in battleground states leading up to accepting his renomination at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, next Thursday.

One last thing…
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