Obama talks health care, NSA and 2016
December 5th, 2013
08:18 PM ET
11 months ago

Obama talks health care, NSA and 2016

Update 9:25 p.m. ET, 12/5/2013

Washington (CNN) - When asked who would make a better successor – Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton – President Barack Obama joked that there was, "Not a chance am I going there." And quickly added, "Both Hillary and Joe would make outstanding presidents and possess the qualities that are needed to be outstanding presidents."

Obama made the remarks in a wide ranging interview on MSNBC with Chris Matthews. He tackled issues from Obamacare and the NSA to the political stalemate in Washington and the faltering economy.

The interview was taped before Nelson Mandela passed away.

Defending Healthcare.gov

On health care reform, Obama defended the troubled Healthcare.gov website, saying, "My advice to everybody is the website's now working. Go to Healthcare.gov, take a look for yourself, in your state, what's available to you. There is no reason why you should not have health insurance."

He also defended his management style when asked if he would change anything in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

"I'm holding every cabinet member accountable, and I want to have strong interactions with them directly," he said, adding, "I have an open door policy, where I want people to be bringing me bad news, on time, so that we can fix things."

NSA surveillance

Obama also tried to calm concerns about the National Security Agency and its data mining programs, saying the goal was to stop terrorists, not listen in on Americans' every day conversations.

"If we're gonna do a good job preventing a terrorist attack in this country, a weapon of mass destruction getting on the New York subway system, et cetera, we do want to keep eyes on some bad actors."

Obama continued: "I've said before and I will say it again, the N.S.A. actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the N.S.A.'s more aggressive."

The President also says he is personally involved in reviewing policies following the leaks by former government IT contractor Edward Snowden, saying the "disclosures have identified some areas of legitimate concern. Some of it has also been highly sensationalized. And you know, has been painted in a way that's not accurate."

Washington gridlock

On the political gridlock in Congress, Obama says he will not give up on his priorities and that he continues, "to have great confidence in our capacity to solve our problems. There is a specific challenge that we've got. And that is a Congress and this city, Washington, that is gridlocked and spends too much time worrying about the next election and not enough time worrying about the next generation."

"We go through these periods where our politics gets all bolloxed up," he said.

Obama also criticized the media, as well as politics, for trying to "divide" and "splinter" the American people.

"The American people are good and they are decent," he said. "And yes, sometimes we get very divided, partly because our politics and our media specifically tries to divide 'em and splinter 'em."

"But, you know, we got so much stuff goin' for us that as long as any president stays close to the people, I think they're gonna do all right."

The President also pointed out his administration's successes.

"We've now ended the war in Iraq. We're about to end the war in Afghanistan. We've begun a recovery that is not yet complete coming out of the financial crisis. But the job market is getting better."

Clinton or Biden in 2016?

As for a potential Democratic primary race between the Vice President and his former Secretary of State, Obama was very diplomatic and full of praise for both.

"I think Joe Biden will go down in history as one of the best Vice Presidents ever," Obama said.

"And he has been with me, at my side, in every tough decision that I've made - from going after Bin Laden to dealing with the health care issues to, you name it, he's been there."

He also praised Clinton, saying, "Hillary, I think will go down in history as one of the finest secretaries of state we've ever had. And helped to transition us away from a deep hole that we were in when I first came into office around the world."

"And to rebuild confidence and trust in the United States. And they've got- they've got different strengths, but both of them would be outstanding. "


Filed under: Health care • Hillary Clinton • Joe Biden • NSA • Obamacare • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. tom l

    So how does the individual improve and create more personal wealth while the policies President Obama endorses makes a person MORE reliant on the govt???

    December 5, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  2. simplyput

    I should believe one word out of this man's mouth, why?

    December 5, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  3. HenryMiller

    "Obama talks healthcare, NSA and 2016"

    And no doubt lied about at least the first two of those.

    December 5, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  4. ora pike

    we learned in libya that this president will leave a soldier behind--but the iran deal and obama did not get the pastor releasesd??? we know obama lies-38 times just with obamacare that was on tv, the "it was the video" and 200 times
    NOBODY TOLD ME--obama wants so mad to get some positive news to help his ratings like the deal with iran, or thousands are enrolling in obamacare when nobody has enrolled-the site does not have a way to make payments. Could it get worse? obama made a deal with the insurance companies to have them bill us whatever they want and he will pay????? wow–clinton was right about obama.

    December 5, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  5. ladies first

    Heres an idea let people think for themselves the ones that cant well go back to school your too old to act like a baby

    December 5, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  6. Jacqueline

    I liked my health care plan,Had Kaiser for 36 yrs.we recieved a letter, we are being dropped! We were paying 850.00$ a month. Now we have to pay 2100.00$ a month!! How are we going to have money for food!!

    December 5, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  7. Palin Power

    Obama's successor will inevitably be Sarah Palin!

    December 6, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  8. freedom

    Lies, lies, lies...........

    December 6, 2013 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  9. CryBabies

    Softball with Chris Matthews. Pretty much a non-event session. I think I did see Both of Matthews legs twitching though.

    December 6, 2013 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  10. TJeff1776

    I guess its time for a woman Prez and I can't think of a better candidate than Hilliary. One BIG reason IS we get Bill in the process. Now there's an unbeatable combination. Leadership galore. The Clintons would balance the budget no matter what even if it hurt some......AND it probably would

    December 6, 2013 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  11. @RI_Roger

    Since he never ran any type of organization or business, he doesn't understand what accountability means. Also, now it's the medias fault for communicating his divisive rhetoric to the American people and dividing us further apart. A true leader would cut through the bull and find ways to publically bring all sides together in a way that was transparent and conciliatory to solve the problems this country faces. His administration contributes to the crisis management we are consistently up against by consistently kicking the can down the road when things are not going their way.

    This event was nothing more than another campaign stop to feed the sharks in his base. If he truly cared, this event would have been designed in a more neutral bi partisan setting and moderated by a less divisive MC.

    December 6, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  12. Gurgyl

    I bet Democrats will win seeping victory in 2014,2016 respectively. Hillary16..

    December 6, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  13. Thomas

    Say what you want about Joe Biden. Sure, he may be "gaffe" prone, but he speaks from the heart and I'd prefer that to scripted.

    December 6, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  14. tom l

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ol' Yeller

    That's a pretty familiear little stance he has in the photo, wouldn't you say?
    -----------------
    He's been practicing in front of th mirror and you can tell.
    It would not surprise me Ol Yeller to see him on someone's ticket come 2016.
    I'm getting a whiff of some serious grooming going on for this dude, and I'm not being at all facetious which is what makes it really scry.
    Looking at his face we're in fact looking at the future face of the Republican Party: perfectly modulated, dogmatic, and completely bought and paid for to perform.
    Keep an eye on this one. He's being allowed to make incredibly disruptive noises and maneuvers sans reprimands or repercussions.
    Government shutdown anyone?

    This sweet and appropriate comment was made in the story on Nelson Mandela. You stay classy, DMFO. I wonder if The Real TP will say something to her for a month about it.....

    December 6, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    Triple the lies, all at once.

    December 6, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    It was a good interview that was notable for its' lack of demogoguery. Matthews really knows his stuff because his lived it.

    December 6, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    CNN, why are you concerned about an interview the POTUS did on another network? Are you guys feeling salty down in Atlanta? If your network didn't become biased all of a sudden, maybe you guys could have landed the interview. Anyway, I like how he distanced himself from the Joe/Hillary 2016 talk. He answered the best way he could. I think the most important part of the interview was when he invoked what the Pope mentioned about economic justice and be thy brother and sisters neighbor.

    December 6, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Jacqueline
    I liked my health care plan,Had Kaiser for 36 yrs.we recieved a letter, we are being dropped! We were paying 850.00$ a month. Now we have to pay 2100.00$ a month!! How are we going to have money for food!!
    ---------------------------------------------
    Did your plan meet the "minimum value standard?"

    December 6, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  19. Sheila

    If the democrats win in 2014, I'll be shocked, and this is coming from an Independent. All the republicans has to do is stay focused on the failures – such as health care, and the list of failures goes on....as long as there isn't any more "Todd Aiekin" type of remarks coming out of the republican congress.

    December 6, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    So how does the individual improve and create more personal wealth while the policies President Obama endorses makes a person MORE reliant on the govt???
    ---------------------------
    There is no answer to this question because the premise behind it is completely absured, but an argument that the right has made for years. On the one hand, the right complains about a weak economy, supposedly resulting Pres. Obama's economic policies. On the other had, the right prides itself on justifying the lack legislative productivity as being indicative of their successful strategy to thwart Pres. Obama's policies.

    You cannot have it both ways, yet the right wing somehow manages to pull it off. The blame the President for the economy, while at the same time tellng their base that they have successfully blocked everything that he's trying to do. Pretty slick, huh.

    December 6, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  21. shorething

    Of course the NSA is not listening, that's why yesterday there was an article about how the NSA listens in on ALL cell phones. Once again Obama is talking out his behind on something he does not understand. I am so sick of Obama and his lies, does he even read the speeches before saying them? Probably not, we thought Bush was an idiot, Obama is just a more well spoken bigger idiot.

    December 6, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |