Video: Obama visits ‘Daily Show’ to court votes

  1. Transcript of: Obama visits ‘Daily Show’ to court votes

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Now to the Decision 2010 countdown. With the midterm elections only five days away, President Obama is doing what he can to get young voters to show up at the polls, even making a late night appearance on " The Daily Show ." NBC 's Savannah Guthrie 's at the White House with more. Savannah , good morning to you.

    SAVANNAH GUTHRIE reporting: Good morning, Matt. Well, senior aides say this morning they are happy with this appearance because it did help them reach an audience of young voters who may not be motivated to get to the polls. But it was hardly a cakewalk, and at times the president faced a skeptical audience. President Obama became the first sitting US president to visit " The Daily Show ."

    President BARACK OBAMA: This is a nice set.

    Mr. JON STEWART: Thank you very much .

    Pres. OBAMA: Yeah, it reminds me of the convention.

    GUTHRIE: But even on the popular comedy program, it wasn't all laugh lines.

    Mr. STEWART: You ran with such, if I may, audacity. Yet legislatively it has felt timid at times.

    Pres. OBAMA: My attitude is if we're making progress, step by step, inch by inch, day by day , that we are being true to the spirit of that campaign. And...

    Mr. STEWART: So you wouldn't -- you wouldn't say you'd run this time as a pragmatist, you would not. It wouldn't be, 'yes we can, given certain conditions.'

    Pres. OBAMA: No, no I think...

    Mr. STEWART:

    Pres. OBAMA: ...I think what I would say is...

    Mr. STEWART: Yeah.

    Pres. OBAMA: ...yes we can, but it is not...

    Pres. OBAMA: ...but it is -- not going to happen -- it's not going to happen overnight.

    GUTHRIE: The president's appearance, a clear attempt to get younger voters, key to his victory in 2008 , to the polls in 2010 as Democrats fight to keep control of Congress .

    Man: Six more days.

    GUTHRIE: In Illinois , the final debate in the race to fill the president's old Senate seat, a race that's neck and neck and nasty.

    Mr. ALEXI GIANNOULIAS: If Congressman Kirk is accusing me of flip-flopping that would be the most remarkable irony in the history of Illinois politics.

    Representative MARK KIRK: I actually am accusing you of flip-flopping.

    Mr. GIANNOULIAS: Then it's the most -- then all of you have witnessed the most remarkable moment in Illinois politics.

    Rep. KIRK: So look at this. Look at this.

    GUTHRIE: In Alaska's Senate slugfest, incumbent Lisa Murkowski , who is running as a write-in candidate, was handed a victory Wednesday night by the state's Supreme Court . The court tentatively ruled that voters could be given a list of write-in candidates, which would include Murkowski 's name when they go to the polls. Tonight, Republican candidate Joe Miller will get some high-profile help as Sarah Palin headlines a rally in Anchorage . And at their fourth and final debate Wednesday night, all three candidates were asked if Palin is qualified to be president.

    Mr. SCOTT McADAMS: In a strict sense she is -- she isn't somebody whose ideology I support and I'd agree with.

    Unidentified Woman: Mr. Miller?

    Mr. JOE MILLER: Of course she is. I mean, you look at who we have in office right now and compare the two. There is no comparison.

    Woman: Senator Murkowski?

    Senator LISA MURKOWSKI: If she were to run right now, I would not support her as president.

    GUTHRIE: Well, today the president's actually taking a day off from the campaign trail; he's going to meet with Americans involved with the rescue of those miners in Chile . But this weekend he returns in full force visiting five states for the final push, Matt.

NBC, and news services
updated 10/28/2010 10:32:18 AM ET 2010-10-28T14:32:18

President Barack Obama targeted young voters on Wednesday with a robust defense of his policies and promises on the popular late-night satirical news show of comedian Jon Stewart.

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Appearing on "The Daily Show," Obama was light on jokes but heavy on policy as he said it would take time to fulfill the pledges he made during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"When we promised during the campaign 'change you can believe in,' it wasn't 'change you can believe in 18 months,'" he told Stewart. "It was change you can believe in but, you know what, we're going to have to work for it.

"We have done an awful lot that we talked about in the campaign," the president added. "And we are going to do more."

Obama's Democrats are expected to suffer big losses in Tuesday's congressional elections and the president's "Daily Show" appearance was aimed at sparking enthusiasm among younger voters.

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The interview came three days before Stewart holds a "Rally to Restore Sanity" — a denunciation of political extremism, likely to draw tens of thousands of fans.

Stewart pressed Obama over the gap between his promises and his accomplishments and described the White House's legislative achievements as "timid at times."

That did not sit well with a visibly frustrated president.

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"Over and over again we have moved forward an agenda that is making a difference in people's lives each and every day. Now is it enough? No," Obama said. "I expect and I think most Democrats out there expect that people want to see more progress."

After achieving healthcare reform and an overhaul of financial regulation during the first half of his term, Obama highlighted energy and immigration reform as issues that would be on his agenda in the next two years.

Stewart needled Obama for promising change but hiring people with long Washington careers such as Larry Summers, his top economic adviser, who served as secretary of the Treasury under former President Bill Clinton.

Video: Obama visits ‘Daily Show’ to court votes (on this page)

Obama said Summers was integral in navigating the economic crisis that faced Obama at the start of his term.

"If you told me two years ago that we're going to be able to stabilize the system, stabilize the stock market, stabilize the economy and, by the way, at the end of this thing it will cost less than 1 percent of GDP ... I'd say we'll take that," Obama said to applause from the audience.

'Pun intended'
"In fairness, Larry Summers did a heck of a job," he continued, using the same infamous phrase his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, used to describe the discredited former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"You don't want to use that phrase, dude," Stewart said.

"Pun intended," Obama replied.

Summers is due to leave the Obama administration at the end of this year to return to teaching at Harvard.

Video: Obama: I’m confident that House race is close (on this page)

Comedy Central, the network that broadcasts Stewart's show, says the program has an audience of roughly 3.6 million U.S. viewers per episode, including 2.2 million in the 18-49 age range. Many more watch the show on the Internet.

Young voters helped propel Obama to the presidency in 2008 and the White House hopes his presence on programs like "The Daily Show" will help cement support for Democrats in Tuesday's election.

Obama ended his appearance by urging Americans to vote.

This year's election — with Republicans, their ultraconservative tea party allies and many independents angry and blaming Obama for the country's continuing economic malaise — will decide contests for all 435 seats in the House, 37 places in the 100-member Senate and 37 state governorships.

Video: ‘Game Change’ in store for Congress? (on this page)

With a takeover in the House expected, Republicans also are forecast to make significant gains in the Senate but fall short of capturing a 51-seat majority.

Their prospects are even better in the governor's races.

The 50 states are preparing to draw new congressional district maps after this year's national census, and governors will have a major say in that process. So Republican gains now could favor GOP candidates in 2012.

The Associated Press, NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.

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