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President Obama's news conference -- full text

(Page 8 of 13)



I do think that, to my Republican friends, I want them to realize that me reaching out to them has been genuine. I can't sort of define bipartisanship as simply being willing to accept certain theories of theirs that we tried for eight years and didn't work and the American people voted to change.

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But there are a whole host of areas where we can work together. And I've said this to people like Mitch McConnell. I said, look, on health care reform, you may not agree with me that I — we should have a public plan. That may be philosophically just too much for you to swallow.

On the other hand, there are some areas like reducing the costs of medical malpractice insurance where you do agree with me. If I'm taking some of your ideas and giving you credit for good ideas, the fact that you didn't get 100 percent can't be a reason every single time to oppose my position.

And if that is how bipartisanship is defined, a situation in which basically, wherever there are philosophical differences, I have to simply go along with ideas that have been rejected by the American people in a historic election, you know, we're probably not going to make progress.

If, on the other hand, the definition is that we're open to each other's ideas, there are going to be differences, the majority will probably be determinative when it comes to resolving just hard, core differences that we can't resolve, but there is a whole host of other areas where we can work together, then I think we can make progress.

Q: Is the Republican Party in the desperate straits that Arlen Specter seems to think it is?

OBAMA: You know, politics in America changes very quick. And I'm a big believer that things are never as good as they seem and never as bad as they seem.

You're talking to a guy who was 30 points down in the polls during a — a primary in Iowa. So — so I never — I don't believe in crystal balls.

I do think that our administration has taken some steps that have restored confidence in the American people that we're moving in the right direction and that simply opposing our approach on every front is probably not a good political strategy.

Ed Henry?

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In a couple of weeks, you're going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame. And, as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion.

As a candidate, you vowed that one of the very things you wanted to do was sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as you know, would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion. And at one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was above — quote, above my pay grade.

Now that you've been president for 100 days, obviously, your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator.

Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act so you can sign it?

OBAMA: You know, the — my view on — on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.

I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they — if they suggest — and I don't want to create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women's freedom and that there's no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with and families and individual women have to wrestle with.

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