October 30th, 2009
05:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Top Obama aides reflect on first year, discuss 3 a.m. moment

(CNN) - Top Obama communication aides Anita Dunn, David Axelrod, and Robert Gibbs sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive, reflective interview looking back at the administration's first 10 months.

In the behind-the-scenes interview, Gibbs described the president's "3 a.m. wake-up call" moment last April, when word came in the early morning hours that the North Koreans had conducted a nuclear missile test.

"We all were in a room in - on the first foreign trip in Prague in the Czech Republic - when we were notified of the North Koreans testing a long-range missile, something we'd expected to happen over a certain amount of time," Gibbs said. "And I think it was about 4:00 in the morning we were in there and we then discussed that and I went to wake him up and he soon joined all of us in getting intelligence briefings from in the room as well as back in D.C."

Axelrod said Obama proceeded to get "a read up on the military people, [get] on the line with Secretary Gates, General Cartwright I think. And then he says, "OK, here's what we're going to do."

The full interview is set to air Monday throughout The Situation Room beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. JT

    To: Nancy

    Have you ever had a job? Most of the learning we experience is on "the job." I don't agree with everything Obama does or says, but give me a break!

    October 30, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. DJ

    If John McCain were President, he would have started WW3 and nuked N. Korea, China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela...probably even the Blue states too while he was at it.

    October 30, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Dave

    Hey Sherry,
    You and the rest of the kool-aid drinkers need to understand that being Americans means we can question and critique our leaders. So get used to it sweetie.

    October 30, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. New Age Independent

    What LacrosseMom and Sniffit dont want you to know are the REAL FACTS

    "they still refuse to admit that 73% of the American People want the Public Option. FACT!"

    There is no data to support this claim. Here are more accurate numbers. According to Gallup "Americans are about evenly split, with 50% in favor and 46% opposed." Hardly an overwhelming number

    Perhaps even more telling:

    "By 58% to 38%, Americans would generally prefer to see Congress deal with healthcare reform 'on a gradual basis over several years' rather than 'try to pass a comprehensive reform plan this year.'"

    or this:

    "USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Oct. 16-19. In addition to the 39% of Americans still on the fence, 25% say they have already decided to support the final bill while a slightly larger number, 33%, say they will oppose it."

    Not exactly the "super inflated" number you provided.

    "they still refuse to admit that Obama overall has a supermajority approval rating (63 to Bush's 37) FACT!"

    Fact? Not so much as your "supermajority approval rating" takes a hit... again from Gallup "President Barack Obama's average job approval rating dropped to 53% in the third quarter of 2009, from 62% in the second quarter; the largest second to third quarter drop for an elected president."

    While Obama still is doing well enough for some, he's lost alot of support from Independents due to the stimulus and health care issues.

    October 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. john, Canada

    USA is blessed to have him as president! he improved USA image in the world and made the word better place to live for everyone!

    October 30, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  6. silvertop

    Sniffit, you crack me up. I think you are confusing LacrossMom who is a great Obama loyalist. she thanks you for the facts, and she probably drinks the kool aid too in your remarks about just loving Obama so much and listening to him.

    As for job numbers, please google AP says White House job numbers are overstated.

    I will not discredit any progress made, but twisting facts to make the result sound good is dishonest.

    Is there a pattern in fudging numbers?

    October 30, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. Anonymous


    Theodor Rosevelt was a Republican; Ike was a Republican; Grant is remembered in history as a great general, but a terrible President; Truman had the guts to drop the atomic bomb to end WWII, but had a terrible domestic agenda, and had approval ratings that rivaled the approval ratings of George W Bush.

    October 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. TexasGolfer

    Sniffit – Hang in there – I love your facts!!! Don't let the right-wing nuts drag you down!!! And yes I support Obama.

    October 30, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. chris

    my dog knew they were going to test that missile. sounds like there wasn't a plan already in place. that's what should worry us!

    October 30, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. phoenix86


    You and Sniffit should get together. You are both dillusional and have a mental inability to see facts.

    Pretty scary you two...and a "mom" at that! Poor kids.

    October 30, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. History

    Probably been said already but Dwight Eisenhower was a Republican, I doubt Richard Nixon would sign onto a Demcratic ticket as VP.

    October 30, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. DawnL,CA

    I'm ashamed of most of you on this blog. When are you all going to put COUNTRY FIRST. Stop with all the hate talk...if you have any solutions to any of the problems, then state them in a civilized manner.
    We are ALL going to either hang together or recover together, so let's bring solutions to the table instead of smart-aleck remarks. I would hope 3rd. grade was over for a lot of you.

    October 30, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. RatH8r

    It's absolutely frightening how delusional people are becoming. We are in recovery? To the clueless, there is no recovery in an economy where 70% of GDP is made up by consumers if those consumers continue to lose their jobs!!! Just because the market rallies doesn't mean homes aren't being forclosed on or products are flying off the shelves. This current market is based on fantasy (financials) where nnothing of value is actually produced. Earnings are theater for the uneducated. Company Y reports profit margins improved in the lastest quarter, but we look into the numbers we see they fired 25% of the work force and went banshee slashing costs in every department. It's not because they are selling more products. Or company Z beats analysts estimates. This game is played by the company grossly overstating their expected losses so that they will undoubtably beat analysts estimates. Company Z: "We expect to lose 90 cents a share", analysts are looking for a lost of 60 cents a share, actual loss is 58 cents a share and it's party time on wall street! THe market rallies because Company Z's earning don't suck as bad as we expected, even though they still suck. For your own sakes, please do some research and find out what makes the economy tick and what really caused the crash before you spout nonsense. And had any of you polly anna clowns believing in the Hope (hype) bothered to look at history, the worst part of the 1929 crash wasn't the intitial market crash, it was the second leg down in 1931/32 after the corrective rally that did the most damage. It's certainly shaping up to look like a repeat since markets are driven by the psychology of the participants.

    Have we become a nation of un-thinking, un-researching invididuals who want to be spoon fed sound bytes of lies from DC and the media? We are all freaking doomed if these "cult of Obama" zombies don't wake up from the dead and come back to life thinking for themselves and actually researching the topics they blather on about.
    "We ARE in RECOVERY..... the Bush Disaster was huge! At the time that President Obama was sworn into Office....... we had been losing......... 750,000 ......... monthly!

    The Obama Stimulus SAVED our Economy! Like it or not! ITS FACT."


    October 30, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. W l Jones

    Have anybody learnt you can win by losing! not a single fellow American lost their life by not acting on impluses. Now we have a farley talking relation with North Korean.

    October 30, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. Howdy Doody

    The Obama administration response to the North Koreans that day was: do nothing.

    Don't you remember, CNN?

    Geez, I'm a nobody and I remember it very well.

    October 30, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. D.

    The communication (PR, the election specialist (PR) and the spokesman (PR) are the top advisors of our PR-esident...

    October 30, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    You all had better stop saying bad things about our great leader! You should all just shut up!

    October 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. Sean

    Easy to spot the people towing the party lines here. Obama is "dithering" on Afghanistan (gee, "dithering" must be a word you use all the time, right? Couldn't be something you're parroting back from Glenn Beck and his co-workers, could it?), or he's the best thing since sliced bread.

    Look, Obama is an intelligent, capable President. A crisis arose, and he dealt with it appropriately. When he messes up, as he has and surely will throughout his Presidency, by all means call him on it. But why are so many people so thoughtlessly criticizing EVERYthing, from his taking an APPROPRIATE amount of time to weigh all factors in how to approach the war in Afghanistan, to getting a dog for cryin' out loud. Grow up, people.

    October 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Marie Laveaux

    If that three am moment had happened 2 years ago, I imagine the first words out of Bush's mouth would have been "nuke em". If the solution is so obvious to all of you conservatives out here, why didn't your two super heroes Bush and Cheney fgure out how to deal with N. Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan while they were in office?

    October 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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