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. Darell in WPB Fla

    Thats why I love CNN and their bloggs you at least get everyone's view from the right as well as the left and some moderates. Unlike Fox who is totally radical and hate filled with no rationale thinking. Keep up the good work CNN.

    October 30, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Truth

    Bill – you should call yourself an idiot.

    Biggest idiot comment of the day. Bush kept us safe since... Yes I do remember 911 and I recall the idiot Bush doing nothing. I recall the plans crashing into the World Trade Center and I recall the testimony that the idiot in chief did not want to be briefed on documents that could have prevented 911. What did he do to keep us safe, make people do their jobs? The intelligence community sat around doing nothing and deflecting assignments instead of doing their jobs!

    Additionally, Obama has not spent more money then any president. He has allocated funding which is projected on a year to year basis. This is called strategic planning. Did you know that Bush didn't even calculate the cost of the war into his budgets so Americans' would not know the true cost of the war. Obama accounting principles are honest and fair.

    I can't even name one good thing that Bush accomplished in his tenure because everything is and was a disaster when he left office.

    October 30, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Wes B.

    I'm so confused by all the Obama haters posting on here.

    He's been in office 10 months. Most presidents take most of their first term before their influence really starts to take hold. But Obama has been on top of things since day one. He's slowed a HUGE economic crisis, and for the first time we are seeing that we're finally headed in a POSITIVE direction. You can't fix a horrible economic situation like ours in a month. It takes a very long time! And it's nearly a miracle that we're already seeing things turn around. That's major progress!

    He's helped spearhead healthcare. REAL healthcare. A bill will be passed–I don't think very many doubt that anymore. And no, it won't be perfect, but it will be the most important healthcare passed in many, many decades. And it will save many lives. That's major progress.

    And he's done this with Republican nay-sayers kicking and screaming and doing everything they could to block this important progress. That's a miracle in itself.

    And just by reaching out to other countries and not being a total tool/jerk, he's already helped repair our country's relationship with the rest of the world. That sort of thing makes a difference.

    I don't see how his first 10 months can't be seen as a huge success. Progress and change don't happen over night. They take time. In reality, the change he's brought to our country has actually happened pretty quickly. And the change he's brought has been for the best.

    Oh, and to all the Conservatives...he hasn't raised my middle class taxes one dime. Just thought I'd point that out.

    October 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    " Its not Repub out here just people with common sense."

    Right...because believing in "death panels" just because that twit Sara Palin said so is "common sense"...believing in trickle-down economics despite 30 years of the money all going in the opposite direction positted by that theory is "common sense"...believing in deregulation, when it was deregulation that allowed the banks to play insane casino games with bunk securites is "common sense"....45,000 dying each year from treatable disease for lack of health insurance, yet opposing any reform of our health care system because you believe it would destroy Obama is "common sense"....sending our young ones over sees to defend all that we believe in and hold dear, while abandoning it all here at home with massive wiretapping programs, torture and Gitmo is "common sense"....need I continue?

    October 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. barbara

    gibbs just cracks me up. He can not speak english properly, hesitates between thoughts and is certainly not the public speaker that obama thought he was. is he not aware that his speaking problem is a reflection on the president? PLEASE dont fire him! I need a good laugh every day.

    October 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. Vince

    Conservatives are the biggest hypocrites I've ever seen. Stop complaining about spending and how we have to pay the bills. Are you thick headed... or big headed? Bush was doing the same thing for 8 years! There's a reason the deficit is so high now you morons. You can't spend money that's already been wasted on pointless wars and military. The government spending is to help people who need the help in the poor economy right now. But apparently that's unnecessary spending to conservatives. The same conservatives who make over 500,000 a year and have a secure job, awesome for you jacka$$! Anything Obama is trying to do is shot down without reason... what just happened the past 8 years... fail fail fail. Stop crying over your horrible president.

    October 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. Steve

    Impressive...so after much consulting, Obama stiffened his back and told North Korea, "please don't do that anymore". Really scared the hell out of them.

    October 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. chelle

    Extreme liberal views?????????? Seriously???? Awww yes the American political and education systems at their best! "Tom" if you knew anything at all about world politics and history, you would not call President Obama extreme. His views, while certainly more liberal than some, are not extreme. And to use liberal and commy together is beyond ludicrous. Communists are many things but never liberal....

    October 30, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "You mean if he actually saved 650,000 jobs, what about the 2.5 million he lost, (continued even faster rise in unemployment since he took office)? do you mean he actually would have saved 3.1 million if he was doing a good job?"


    The rate at which the economy is bleeding jobs per month is less than half of what it was when Obama took office, prior to the passing of the Stimulus package and the gov't starting to put it into effect.

    With respect to "saved" jobs, econmic experts have widely opined that unemployment would be at 13%-15% right now BUT FOR the Stimulus Package, cash for clunkers, etc. While 10% is more than we had hoped it would be (8%), the 3%-5% saved represents approximately 3M-5M jobs prevented from being lost.

    October 30, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Mike

    Is Obama awake at 3:00 am? I figured between the guest appearances on Leno & Letterman & the photo ops for the numerous magazine covers, he would be exhausted.

    October 30, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. james


    Yes, and Hamas, North Korea etc. were so well under check when Bush was president. Do you sersiously think the president has direct control of another country or organization and its actions? Bush sure had nice, tight control over Al Qada. What a ridiculous argument. As most of his attackers, you're baseless.

    October 30, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Bill

    Bush & Republicans gave North Korea billions because It's their homeland. Republicans hate Americans.

    October 30, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. Puerto Rican Mama's 4 Obama!

    Can anyone ever trust Axelrod and Dunne to give a real account of what happened. What a joke.

    I'm going to get me a big fat ole check from Obama's stash!

    October 30, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. Joseph A. Wigfall

    Thank you President Obama for letting the world know that as Comander and Chief of the Armforces of the United States of America you suport the men and women under your comand and you will support them and there families when ever needed. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. ps I am a Vietnam Veteran from in Hawaii. Aloha

    October 30, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. mark

    Romney 2012, save America!

    October 30, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Where's the story?

    CNN – why aren't you reporting on the health care bill that's about to sink this country with Pelosi at the helm? Does your audience not want to hear the "inconvenient truth?"

    October 30, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. KaKa

    This is so funny to see all the people who didn't vote for Obama have their time to vent. OK... Let it all out and then sit back and watch the rest of us who voted for our president cheer him on. You all are a bunch of sore losers. Let it go. The hatemongering takes up too much of your time. Whew!!!

    October 30, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. P. D.

    I realized something after Obama won. People are constantly polling his performance. He's been in for only 9 months! When Bush was in, they rarely polled about him.

    October 30, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. Out and about

    Mike at 4:16 – agreed.

    October 30, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Dilligaf

    Probably just got in from a midnite basketball game. Of course, they're lying about the sequence of events. Odumbo is clueless, totally clueless on anything and everything.

    October 30, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Mike in TX

    If Obama got that 0300 call, he would ask them to hold while he attended a couple of fund raisers, met with his advisers, did a couple public opinion polls, played some golf, had a party at the White House, spent all weekend on talk shows, went on Letterman and Leno, met with his advisors again, held a press confrence, ran another poll and then if he had time, he would get back with them.

    October 30, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. Jason

    Chelle- You are the reason why our Republic is being erroded away. These radicals and communists have taken up causes to increase their power by buying their votes. They truly dod not believe in the causes they so called represent. They are taking advantage of our government and systems.Their goal is to bankrupt America so they can radically change it into something else. Russia and China new they would never win a war on the battlefield, but as Regan did to the Chinese go after our economy. We are actually seing George Soros fighting for his one world government right now, but first they have to take down America.

    October 30, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. Wake Up

    ooooohhh, real scary moment. Why does cnn and all these lib networks treat Obama as a reality star? They buy into his propagand and pass it on.
    Obama is an abject failure. simple as that. He is a radical.

    October 30, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Travis In Colorado

    When Obama was informed about the North Korean missile test, Obama promptly apologized to North Korea for any other countries being in the way of their missile flight path. Of course, he did this the next morning after a game of golf and some campaigning. After all, he does have his priorities!

    Anyone but Obama 2012!

    October 30, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. JohnP

    Hey LacrosseMom:

    You have got to be the most brainwashed lib that ever set foot on earth. Keep drinking the kool-aid

    October 30, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9