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. Obamalism

    but.... he didn't exactly DO anything to the Koreans other than talk.

    October 30, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. leanderjim

    And........just what would have John McCain done? Amazing how repubs have absolutely NO answers to ANYTHING.......but, my god they can criticize............just a gentle reminder.........the House was controlled by repubs from 1994 to 2006, and the Presidency from 2001 to 2009............and if you look back at the mess they made, how, could any of you, in the farthest recesses of your small minds, ever think, that a republican could do any better?

    October 30, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. TCM

    ok....let's see...first, the employment numbers propaganda...now the infamous 3 a.m. phone call...give me a break! Your story totally discredits itself, why? Because you're quoting his closest and most liberally corrupt advisers...Gibbs, Alexrod and Dunn...this article made we laugh worse than the 650k new jobs article! CNN's really throwing out the politically-biased propaganda for Obama today; probably on cue for the upcoming elections in NJ and VA. Too little too late though; people, good Americans see through this facade like a pane glass window.

    October 30, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Sea.gem

    What a load of cr@*...this is "Wag-the -dog 101"...nothing was done and they are posturing as responsible?...laughable...Obama is a kid with daddy's credit card...unfortunately we are stuck with the bill...if you take governemnt slending 9of our taxes0..then there is no economic 'upturn'...this guy is just trying to fool America long enough to transform the landscape with his radical agenda...the furthest left president is showing he is not truly representative of the people.

    October 30, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. TCM

    Mike in Dallas spewing about paid bloggers...hmmm...gee, that's reminding me of ACORN, Center for American Progress...and the bus loads of "rented," supporters for any liberal cause. Dude, you got no game, other than wanting a gov't freebie, I suppose.

    October 30, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. all the news that's fit to omit

    Did they say 3 AM movement???

    Oops, my bad.

    What did he do here that was his defining moment besides his cowardly, never served a day in his life apology tour?

    Today it was revealed that his $8000 first time home buyer program actually cost $44,000 a piece and the cash for clunkers cost us $24,000 a vehicle and his jobs saved (?????) or created (?????) LIE cost us at LEAST $75,000 a LIE or job.

    Wow, Electric Bugaloo, you must be so hopey and changey, better hurry, Oprah's coming on soon.

    October 30, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. LacrosseDad

    what a bunch of liars. BE AFRAID AMERICA

    October 30, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. Uh ... uh... uh...Obama

    My 3 AM moment was when Michelle poked me and told me to STOP SNORING ... I was was keeping her awake.

    October 30, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. Michael Hsu

    What's the point of waking the prez (that's urban lingo, folks) up at 3am to notify him of something which the prez is too impotent to do anything about (korean nukes)?

    October 30, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. franco

    so what did he decided to do? Tell us.

    October 30, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  11. Andrea

    I would donate to RNC before I would donate to the DNC. Its not Repub out here just people with common sense.

    October 30, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. JR

    Obama is doing an excellent job, considering the quagmire we're in.

    October 30, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. charlie in Maine

    I think it is interesting for native born citizens to call themselves "Proud to be an American" Those Americans who were born in other countries and move here can and should be proud of their free choice to become an American. Those of us lucky enough to be born here (like Barack Obama, you idiot birtheres) are just that, "lucky". Label me "Lucky to be an American and proud to be a Democrat" Especially now!!!

    October 30, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. Lois

    Its too bad the President has so many
    haters come on people get over it he is President and will be foe eight years

    October 30, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. LacrosseMom


    Here is some GOOD NEWS:

    CNN reported that the STIMULUS created .......... 650,000 jobs!

    CNN also reported that the private sector created........ 30,000 jobs!

    NY Times reported, "U.S. Economy Started to Grow Again in the Third Quarter" ...... yeah!

    Of course, the GOP wont acknowledge this. The GOP will continue to blame, demonize, criticize and hate President Obama! BUT........


    October 30, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Jeremy

    Some liberals (especially the ones I see on these CNN blogs) are sure vicious and mean-spirited, aren't they? It is true that the President did not do anything about the North Koreans. It seems he cares more about spending money on things that will not even help the economy (cap & tax) or will not go into effect until he is out of office (healthcare) if he loses in 2012. I guess the plan is to throw money at the problem and see if that works, which is illogical. It seems to me that we are in a downward spiral and unless something that will actually help the economy gets done, we may be in for a rough ride. I hope I am wrong, but nothing relevant to the situation is being done.

    October 30, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. jm

    I always thought the 3AM example was supposed to be about what a President, or any of us, would do when facing an impending crisis we didn't foresee, and that required immediate action and decisive leadership.

    Regardless of what you think about Obama, I think this is not an example of what we are looking for.

    "Well, we were hanging out drinking, and we noticed that there was a deer in the back yard. So we woke up the President, and he told us to keep an eye on the deer, and maybe keep it away from the azaleas."

    October 30, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  18. Sam

    Here are the facts:
    Obama responded by suggesting we rid the world of nuclear weapons. This was the correct response - de-escalate.

    It is up to Congress - with Biden as negotiator - to carry this out. Or Obama with fast-track authority, and Hillary as secretary of state.

    My opinion: We have much more precise weapons... we don't need these.

    October 30, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. LacrosseMom

    WHAT "53% that's being soaked in taxes"???????????????????????

    YOU Republicans tell these LIES........ but our TAXES have not gone up!

    However IF you make $1 MILLION as a couple or $500K your taxes will go up!

    The Bush tax cuts are set to expire!


    October 30, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. Jeremy

    By the way, I am not a paid Repub blogger, like other people branded as such. I wish I was, so I could get some money to try and survive this recession, but there you go.

    October 30, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. David in Houston

    You've doing a great job, Mr. President. Keep it up!

    October 30, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Beverly in NC

    Thank God John McCain did not get that call. We would be in a nuclear war with N Korea right now. Republicans never met a war they didn't love.

    The hell with investing in America and providing beneficial solutions for ALL Americans. They care NOTHING about the People they are supposed to be serving. They only care about the rich corporations who will bribe them with huge sums of money to vote against that which helps the People.

    President Obama is doing a wonderful job restoring this nation and trying to bring programs and change that will directly help the American People.He is a good and decent man that loves America. He is open and honest and respected and loved here at home and all over the world. His inteligence and leadership terrifies the ignorant and corrupt Republicans.

    Republicans are traitors to America and do nothing but LIE, PROMOTE HATE, RACISM, AND VOTE NO ON EVERY PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT WOULD IMPROVE THE LIVES OF AMERICANS. It's time to remove these unethical, immoral, non-servants of the People from all seats of powers starting in 2010.

    October 30, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. Christian

    That Hillary Clinton ad was over 15 months ago and they defeated her en route to winning the Presidency and they're still pissed off about it. That's wild.

    October 30, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Michelle

    And this is news? Why is this even an article?

    October 30, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Wanda

    I do not feel safe knowing that Obama is in charge. Only our enemies should feel safe because I think it is clear which side he stands on. It is sad that anyone will side for or against a person just because of the color or nationality they are. I'm an American. I don't care what color or nationality a person is. All I want is someone to look out for the safety and future of my children and grandchildren. I'm on America's side. Too bad a majority of our leaders aren't. Look at what is right and what is wrong and don't be kiss ups to a person that has only his own agenda on his mind. Stand up for our constitution.

    October 30, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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