Nightly News   |  September 23, 2010

Obama makes plea for Middle East peace

At the UN Thursday, President Obama leaned hard on world leaders to finally achieve a long-elusive goal of peace in the Middle East. NBC's Savannah Guthrie reports.

Share This:

This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Earlier in the day President Obama had his turn at the podium and he had a lot to say about the global economy, US relations with China , the Middle East peace process . But it wasn't just a day for diplomacy, there were some domestic issues to deal with as well. Our White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie here in New York covering the president tonight, as well. Savannah , good evening.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE reporting: Good evening, Brian . Well, as you say, on foreign policy today was the main event. The president addressed the full UN assembly , a speech that covered the terrain of US foreign policy , but it was striking how much time he devoted to the issue of Middle East peace, making clear he's willing to put it on the line for an issue that has bedeviled so many of his predecessors. At the UN today, the president leaned hard on world leaders to finally achieve a long elusive goal in the Middle East .

President BARACK OBAMA: We all have a choice to make. Each of us must choose the path of peace.

GUTHRIE: But at the very moment the president was laying out his foreign policy goals, his political opponents were rolling out their domestic agenda.

Representative KEVIN McCARTHY (Republican, California): Americans across this country are outraged and so are we.

GUTHRIE: At a hardware store in Sterling , Virginia , just outside Washington , House Republicans unveiled their plan to change Washington .

Representative JEB HENSARLING (Republican, Texas): Stop, stop out of control spending and actually reduce the size of our government.

GUTHRIE: Borrowing the concept from the 1994 Contract with America that helped sweep them to power, the Republicans ' Pledge to America promises to repeal the new health care law and replace it with a smaller plan, make the Bush tax cuts permanent for all taxpayers, cut Congress ' operating budget and freeze spending at 2008 levels, cutting $100 billion per year. But Republicans were forced to acknowledge today when they actually had power they didn't always live up to their own ideals.

Representative JOHN BOEHNER (House Minority Leader): Listen, when Republicans were in charge of Congress , we made our fair share of mistakes. I think we've demonstrated over the last 20 months that Republicans have heard the American people .

GUTHRIE: Democrats ripped the Pledge to America as nothing more than barely warmed over ideas from the Bush years.

Representative JAMES CLYBURN (Democrat, South Carolina): If this is implemented, what we are going to see is the infliction of a plague on America .

GUTHRIE: Back in New York , even in front of Democratic supporters Wednesday night, the president encountered an audience not altogether friendly, interrupted multiple times by AIDS protesters.

Pres. OBAMA: We've increased aids funding. I don't know why you're putting the sign up.

GUTHRIE: Today the drama unfolded behind the scenes as the president pressed China 's Premier Wen Jiabao to do more to reform its currency. The US believes China keeps its currency artificially low so its goods are cheaper, hurting US business. Well, tomorrow there will be a key vote in a congressional committee to crack down on China . And one other note from here, Brian , late today the president introduced his wife, first lady Michelle Obama , at an event at the Clinton Global Initiative . Her pitch today, urging American businesses to hire military veterans and their spouses.

WILLIAMS: Which has been her cause for so long. Savannah Guthrie , thanks, while covering the president