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. Mark

    This is up there with CNN's other exclusive... Michelle and Barack go out to dinner on their anniversary!

    October 30, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. silvertop

    Dont want to be negative about Obama as a person, but it is a scary thought that he must be approving of Anita Dunn's admiration of Mao to let her go on the great CNN worldwide news with Wolf blitzer.

    For you defenders, please go to youtube and listen carefully Dunn's own words that Mao is one of the two of her favorite political philosophers, who executed, tortured those who disagreed with him., someone she came to when making choices. She was not joking. Why would anyone joke about something like that talking to a group of high school students.

    Go to the web and check out what Mao did, if you did not get it from reading and studying real history.

    And this sits well with Obama? and right minded democrats?

    October 30, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. lee

    The N Koreans fire a test missile does not qualify as a 3am Emer phone call. Did OB have to decide anything important at that time did he need to address teh American public on a serious threat. Come on Gibbs get real!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 30, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. Bill Johnson

    Save the moving expense and stay here... If things continue we'll be North Korea!

    October 30, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. Jobless Recovery

    What you people don't realize...most of us against Obama ARE NOT REPUBLICANS! Many of us are against Bush's economic policies. Quit using the lazy excuse of calling us GOP. We are against big government. We are for the constitution, which calls for a small federal government and state rights. You obamabots are so out of touch reality.

    October 30, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. We Do Not Want to Move Back to The Dark Age of Conservatism

    CNN Moderators: When are you going to start doing your job?? I am so sick of coming to the Ticker everyday and seeing the crap that you allow people to post. If someone wants to post a thoughtful comment about how they disagree with the President, that's fine. I can respect that even if I don't agree. But these endless childish, moronic statements that you allow people to clog up this site with is just enough already! Comments calling our President names and endless rantings that sound like something a six year old would say???? Seriously, please keep them to some kind of a sane limit will you? The rest of us would like to have reasonably adult discussion of the stories at hand and the CHILDREN should be made to play elsewhere!

    October 30, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Tommygunn

    It's a moment of "truth" for any President.

    I would image that happens all the time, and it truly never get disclosed until after they are out of office.

    I am impressed with the "serene power", without all the "loud talking and fear"......this is what I want representing us on Global scale.

    I pray for any President that regardless of ideology or style, that they make the right decision for us all.

    Now I think all AMERICANs can sleep easier at night.

    October 30, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. kaleto

    Well, it could be worse...Mrs. Clinton could have been president.

    October 30, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Steve

    Even if he failed at everything from here on out, Obama's still got a bigger record of success than Bush, who failed at everything. Bush did not improve ONE thing in either of his terms. Republicans know it, they're embarrassed that their way of doing things is PROVEN not to work, and that's why they're so hilariously desperate for Obama to fail.

    Even when Obama's numbers go down, Republicans aren't benefiting from it; their numbers go down even more. Your party is doomed, Republicans. And you can do two things about that: 1. nothing, and 2. like it.

    October 30, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Jobless Recovery

    Snifit–Bill clinton was a success. Hmm, he had a shot at Osama Bin Laden...but chose not to. FACT.
    These wars and 3000 deaths are on him.

    October 30, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. Wake Up

    So far obama has lost battles with:
    – Iran
    – North Korea
    – The Olympic Committee
    – Fox News
    – Sold out Acorn (who he worked for)
    – Solvency.

    October 30, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Candide

    Oh, please. And Wolf Blitzer? The dumbest "personality" CNN has to offer? There's not a believable moment to this non-story. What was it he was "going to do" exactly? Since he really did nothing.

    October 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Edwin


    You got one "fact" wrong. Teddy Roosevelt WAS a Republican - one of the most progressive presidents we've ever had. Actually, the Republican party WAS the party of progressives at that time.

    He split with the Republicans largely over environmental and conservation issues, taking the progressives with him. The Republican party was forever changed. Republicans now and Republicans in 1900 would not agree on pretty much anything.

    October 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. CHuckECheese

    Obama is an anti-America lying moron. Anyone believing different, is an anti-American lying moron.
    I'm just hoping there will still be an America in 3 years....

    October 30, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Citizen in Iowa

    Tom...I would love to know your IQ....After almost 3 years you are still claiming obama is a muslim? A socialist? Not a citizen? Really?? Is it that you are actually incapable of doing your own research? Let me guess, Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, and GW Bush are the 4 people you admire most in your life... you watch nothing but FOX and you still believe the white race is the alpha and the omega. Wow...hard to believe anyone can be this dumb!

    October 30, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. mjm

    Sniffit..........45000 die because they don't have insurance? How many people die per year with insurance? I know you think obama is a GOD but he's not going to stop anyone from dying.

    Besides that article was junk science. There is no way they can claim 45000 die because of lack of insurance.

    Just like there is no way Obama can claim to have "saved" 650000 jobs.

    Health care reform should not cost 894 billion, plus the 700 billion for the senate bill.

    I know you're a liberal and you have no concept of money, but there is no possible way to pay for this bill. Just because you'll never be rich does not mean we should tax individuals 39%...ever.

    October 30, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Objective Thinking

    Several posts on here are attacking Republicans are McCain supporters, even when no posts prior to the aforementioned posts have implied that McCain would have done better.

    Why the defensiveness?

    And let me ask you this: If Candidate A is better than Candidate B, and Candidate A gets elected, does that mean that Candidate A should get immunity from criticism?

    October 30, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. lou

    Didja see the fatso who is now our Dr in Chief? She's a blimp in a sausage suit. How do they ever expect America's kids to lean out when the Surgeon General is a porker?

    October 30, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. kkeys

    sniffit Ike was a republican.

    October 30, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Renel C

    John C.

    At least Obama spent the $150 Billion here in the United States. At least people got jobs. Bush, on the other hand, spent billions of dollars in Iraq and the money was just wasted, many of them disappeared from corrupt Iraqi politicians. Also, Bush said that Iraq will pay for its own restructuring with their oil revenues. Instead, Halliburton got a piece of the pie courtesy of the American Taxpayers. Not only that, Bush also invaded the wrong friggin country resulting in billions of dollars wasted, thousands of american lives, and over 50k Iraqi civilian lives.

    Do you really think that Saddam's life was worth more than 5,000 american lives? Do you really think that Bush's deception about the WMD, Yellow Cake, Saddam's ties with Biln Laden are justified? You repugs are so quick to spend billions of dollars and wasting thousands of american lives when it comes to war but when it comes to domestic needs you cry socialism? And you call liberals as commies? Then again, repugs are known to be a bunch of hypocrites. Well, not all repugs. Just the right wing lunatic fringe of the republican party

    October 30, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. Meh

    Disgusted in Texas> Um. The press goes EVERYWHERE w. the President. He didn't bring them there. It's their job to follow him around. Stop trying to start drama where there is none.

    President Obama is doing a great job, imo. All of you disappointed that he didn't come up w. some knee-jerk reaction a la Bush need to get a grip.

    Sarah? "Most Americans love their doctors and health plans" No, just no. I don't know anyone who loves their health plans, if they even HAVE one. MOST Americans want a public option. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Bill> W. kept us safe? The attacks never should have happened in the first place! And possibly wouldn't have if W. had bothered to read a single memo about planes flying into the Trade Towers! He didn't keep us safe....he has done more to alienate and p.o. foreign countries than any President in my memory. Now Pres. Obama has to undo that mess by being diplomatic. Perhaps you've heard of it?

    October 30, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. lao

    To fair is fair:

    there are only 10 millions of us (Czechs)...Out of these, 70% were against any missile defense installations.

    October 30, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. Mike in TX

    The last two years of the Bush administration that you like to reference so much, was dominated by a Democrat controlled House and Senate.

    And to the the rest of you that are still blaming Bush for Obama's problems....If my ex-wife left me with $10,000 in credit card bills, going out and spending / borrowing another $30,000 is not going to fix the problem, no matter how many times I blame her for the $10,000 mess I was left in.

    October 30, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Joe citizen abroad

    Nice to have a "decider" in the White House who gets the full briefing first.

    October 30, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    One day President Obama will notice how loyal I am and I shall be rewarded. I am devoting my life to saying and doing anything for my beloved President Obama! Hail President Obama! Long may he live!

    October 30, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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