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Obama on '60 Minutes' -- leader of the free world, doer of dishes

By Dave Cook / November 17, 2008

Jake Turcotte

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A lot changes when you move from Chicago to Washington, the Senate to the White House.

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In an interview on "60 Minutes" last night, President-elect Obama talked about the policies he is preparing to implement, the briefings he is getting -- and on a personal level, mourned his “loss of anonymity” and the fact he could no longer walk around his Chicago neighborhood or visit his barber.

“I gotta have my barber come to some undisclosed location to cut my hair,” he said.

The future first lady, Michelle Obama, said her first priority would be helping the couple’s young daughters adjust to Washington. Beyond that, “ I care about military families and the work/family balance issue. I care about education…I believe that we can have an impact in the D.C. area. You know, in terms of making sure we're contributing to the community that we immediately live in,” she said.

Doing dishes?

And there was a playful exchange in the interview about domestic duties. When Mr. Obama decided to run for president, he agreed to perform certain chores on his days at home including washing the dishes.

Last night he said he would no longer enjoy the soothing experience of dish washing,.

"Since when was it ever soothing for you to wash the dishes?” Mrs. Obama asked.

"When I had to do it," Obama replied, "I’d make it into a soothing thing.”

Hillary?

On issues of more moment, the president-elect ducked questions about whether Hillary Clinton would serve as Secretary of State or how many Republicans would be in his cabinet.

CBS anchor Steve Kroft conducted the interview Friday at a Ritz Carlton hotel in Chicago. In one segment, the president-elect appeared alone with Mr. Kroft. In the final two segments, Mr. Obama fielded questions while holding hands and occasionally bantering with soon-to-be first lady Michelle Obama.

The broadcast, the sixth interview 60 Minutes has landed with Obama, was aired on the day he resigned his seat in the US Senate.

Guns and butter

National security and the economy were the dominant policy issues in the interview. Obama said that selecting his national security team was a top priority. “I think it is important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack,” he said.

As soon as he is inaugurated, Obama said he would work with his national security team and military leaders to draw down US troop levels in Iraq and “stamp out al-Qaida once and for all.”

While he praised Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for working “tirelessly under some very difficult circumstances,” Obama made it clear that restoring the economy’s health remains a top priority. “There is no doubt that we have not been able yet to reset the confidence in the financial markets and in the consumer markets and among businesses that allow the economy to move forward in a strong way,” he said.

“And my job as president is going to be to make sure that we restore that confidence,” he added.