Following is the complete transcript of PresidentBarack Obama’s discussion with Matt Lauer, anchor of NBC’s TODAY show:
- Dancing with the Stars Season 16 Finale Results Revealed
- Dancing with the Stars: Which Couple Deserved to Win?
- The Daily Treat: What Would You Call Mariah Carey's Puppies?
- Val Chmerkovskiy Took Stitches 'Like a Champ,' Says His Plastic Surgeon
- Amy Poehler, Michelle Obama, Stephen Colbert & More Commencement Speeches
MATT LAUER: We’re here in the Map Room at the White House with the 44th president of the United States, President Obama. It’s great to be with you. How you doing?
OBAMA: I’m doing great, Matt. Thank you.
LAUER: So you’ve been President 12 days. So — so let me ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind right now.
LAUER: How’s it going living with the mother-in-law? (LAUGHTER)
OBAMA: Fortunately, I love my mother-in-law. And —
LAUER: I’m — I’m just asking. I’m not trying —
OBAMA: — and — oh —
LAUER: — to start trouble.
OBAMA: She is actually — she defends me whenever I screw up. So, Michelle, you know, she’s about to come down hard, my mother-in-law comes in, intercedes. So —
LAUER: Everything’s copacetic.
OBAMA: It’s — the — the longer she stays, the better off I’m gonna be.
LAUER: I was driving over here, Mr. President. I was thinking about this enormous transition that you’ve been through —
LAUER: — taking on the reins as commander-in-chief, Mrs. Obama becoming the First Lady. But you’ve got a daughter ten and a daughter seven. And this is a — huge game changer for them as well.
LAUER: How they doing?
OBAMA: You know, they — I said this I think in an earlier interview. People think I’m cool. Nobody’s cooler than my two girls. They just seem to take whatever comes with, you know — happiness and — steadiness. And they’re loving school. They’re making friends. In fact, they’ve got a — they’ve got some friends from school over — today and — they’ve already joined some clubs. And Sasha, you know — I think maybe to endear — myself to her, she — she decided she wanted to join a basketball team. So — what more could I want?
LAUER: Are you getting to take part in some of the routines? So I was thinking, you know, you’ve been on the road basically for two years, although you got home a lot.
LAUER: Now you’re all under the same roof basically for 12 days. Are you there for breakfast? Do you — do you get to read them a story at night, tuck them in bed? How’s it going?
OBAMA: It’s the best deal — of — of this whole thing is it turns out I’ve got this nice home office. And — at the end of the day, yeah, I can come home, even if I’ve got more work to do, I can have dinner with them. I can help them with their homework. I can tuck them in. If I’ve gotta go back to the office, I can. But — I’m seeing them now more than anytime in the last two years. And — and that’s been great for the whole family.
LAUER: President Bush said in his last press conference here at the White House, he said he wasn’t sure when it would happen for you. But there would be a moment.
LAUER: And perhaps in the Oval Office when you would stop and realize, “I am the president of the United States.” (LAUGHTER) I’m curious, have you had that moment?
OBAMA: There have been a couple of times — some wonderful, some sobering. You know, whenever you take that walk down the colonnade and you — you go to the Oval Office, you know, I — I do think you get this sense of the history — that you’re now a part of — some sobering moments. Having to sign letters for troops —
OBAMA: — who — who have died and — and sending letters to their family, where you realize every decision you make counts. And, you know, you don’t have time to — you — you don’t have time to spend a lot of time on inconsequential stuff. You’ve gotta focus on, at this point, putting people back to work but also reminding yourself that you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people — around the world who are putting themselves in harm’s way and you are the commander-in-chief.
LAUER: You talk about sobering moments. Even as a Senator and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, you were getting intelligence briefings on the campaign trial also and during the transition. But now, from what I understand, every day you go down there and there’s that intelligence briefing on your desk. And it’s gotta contain some pretty sobering stuff.
LAUER: There are millions, tens of millions of people watching this broadcast right now, Mr. President. If they were to have access to the same information you have now on a daily basis, how much less sleep would we all be getting?
OBAMA: Here’s what I think is important for everybody to understand. We’ve got real threats. And we have to remain vigilant. But the quality of our armed — forces has never been better. When you meet the people who are charged with keeping America safe, it gives you enormous confidence. They are on the case day in and day out with extraordinary profess — professionalism. But there is no doubt that — we have to make sure that we don’t let up because there are people who would be willing to do us harm.
LAUER: Let’s talk about some of those men and women who are serving this country overseas in Afghanistan, other locations, in Iraq. And I’m sure they’re watching today. It’s a big event for the armed services. And a lot of those people have a vested interest in one of your campaign promises to end this war and get them home as soon within 16 months or so as humanly possible. So when you look at them, can you say that a substantial number of them will be home in time for next Super Bowl Sunday?
OBAMA: Yes. I mean, we’re gonna roll out in a — in a very formal fashion what our intentions are in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. But in conversations that I’ve had with the Joint Chiefs, with — people — the commanders on the ground — I think that we have a sense, now that Iraq has just had a very significant election with no significant violence —
OBAMA: — that we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis. And that’s good news for — not only the troops in the field but their families who are carrying an enormous burden.
LAUER: The economy. I mean, people are gonna watch this game today. They’re gonna blow off some steam. They’re gonna have a good time.
LAUER: And a lot of them are gonna go to bed. They’re gonna wake up tomorrow morning and the worry’s gonna start again. They’re gonna worry about losing their jobs and their homes and putting their kids through school and making ends meet. How much worse is the economy going to get, Mr. President, before it gets better?
OBAMA: Well, it — I think we’re gonna be in for a tough several months. We’ve got to get this economic recovery plan passed. We’ve gotta start putting people back to work. We’re gonna have to straighten out the credit markets and make sure that credit is flowing to businesses and individuals so that they can start investing and — hiring people again.
And, you know, as soon as Congress moves forward on the recovery plan, we are gonna be also releasing our plan for — the financial sector and regulating the financial sector. I have confidence we’re gonna be able to get the economy back on track. But it’s gonna take — a number of months before we stop falling and then — a little bit longer for us to get back on track.
LAUER: And when it comes to the stimulus plan, the — the House passed its version last week but without one Republican vote. That disappointed a lot of people. The Senate takes up their version of the measure starting tomorrow. How — how important is gaining some more Republican support for that, how big a test of your leadership at this early stage of your presidency?
OBAMA: Well, look, the — the important thing is getting the thing passed. And — I’ve done extraordinary outreach I think to Republicans because they had some good ideas. And I wanna make sure that those ideas are incorporated. I am confident that by the time we actually have the final package on the floor that we are gonna see substantial support. And people are gonna say this is a serious effort. It has no earmarks. We’re gonna be trimming up — things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now.
LAUER: Can you predict a number of Republican votes?
OBAMA: No. Of course not.
LAUER: You wouldn’t do that, no?
OBAMA: No, I wouldn’t. But — but I’m confident that — well, look, I — I — I think that — the House Democrats — actually adopted a number of the ideas that the House Republicans had offered. Obviously the House Republicans wanted to make a statement. Now it moves to the Senate. We’ve got 535 people who feel it’s their responsibility to represent their constituents and make their voices heard.
So if this is — democracy is always a somewhat messy process. But the thing I want all of them to remember and the thing I’m thinking about every single day is the thousands of people who are being laid off of their jobs right now. They can’t afford politics as usual. And old habits are hard to break. But now is the time to break them ’cause we’ve got an urgent situation.
LAUER: Let’s lighten up a little bit. Let’s — let’s move towards sports, okay? You — you came out and you said, “Look, in college football, I’m not crazy about the current system to determining a national champion.”
OBAMA: This is true.
LAUER: “I’d rather see a playoff system like in professional baseball or professional football.”
LAUER: So will you look into the camera right now and talk to the people of Florida and their 27 electoral votes and tell them that the Gators are not the national champions of football?
OBAMA: I — where’s the camera? Right here?
LAUER: (LAUGHTER) Yeah, there you go.
OBAMA: Congratulations, Gators, on an outstanding season. (UNINTEL) Bowl is great. Wouldn’t you feel better if you had beat — every team that was out there through a playoff system?
LAUER: Twenty-seven electoral votes.
OBAMA: Yeah, the — (LAUGHTER) I love you. But — I — I think they could have — I — they could have taken on anybody through the — the playoff system. By the way, one of our Secret Service guys — his son — is a tackle on the — on the Florida Gators. So, you know, I’ve got a soft spot for —
LAUER: You got a connection.
LAUER: Let’s talk about this game today. You came out. Most presidents don’t pick a team. You — you came right out and you said, “Look, I know the Rooneys. They’ve been good friends of mine. They endorsed me. I think you got the AFC championship ball.”
OBAMA: I did.
LAUER: So you said, “Other than my dear Bears, they’re closest to my heart.” But I’m having a hard time understanding how you of all people wouldn’t associate with the Cardinals. I mean, it is —
LAUER: — the Cinderella story, the team that came from nowhere to the big game. The audacity of hope!
OBAMA: Not to mention the fact that Kurt Warner’s close to my age.
LAUER: Right, exactly. (LAUGHTER)
LAUER: How can you turn your back —
OBAMA: I — I love Kurt Warner’s story. I love — Larry Fitzgerald seems like just a — a wonderful young man. It’s a great story. But Rooney didn’t just endorse me. That guy was out going to steel plants campaigning for me. Frank O’Harris (PH) was out waving towels at my rallies.
LAUER: You have a terrible tie —
OBAMA: I — I do actually.
LAUER: So you’re gonna be —
OBAMA: I’m — I’m — I’m not gonna be rubbing it in. There’s — we’ve got some — Arizona — congressmen here. And I may need their vote on the — recovery package.
LAUER: Give me a score. (LAUGHTER) What’s the score gonna be in this game?
OBAMA: You know, it’s — it’s tough to predict. But I — but I think the — the Steelers are gonna eke it out in a close one.
LAUER: All right. Well, last year you predicted the Patriots over my Giants.
LAUER: I don’t have a question here. I just wanted to rub that in a little bit.
OBAMA: Yeah. I’m still wondering how that guy made that catch.
LAUER: — Manning?
LAUER: — they just dissected that play in about a five-minute segment on the show.
OBAMA: It was one of — one of the greatest plays in pro football history.
LAUER: Let’s talk about the BlackBerry. You got to keep it.
OBAMA: I did.
LAUER: Can I see it? Do you have it?
OBAMA: You know, I didn’t bring it down here.
OBAMA: No, it — it — it’s like — Inspector Gadget, you know? We — the — if you touch it, it might blow up.
LAUER: But that’s — I kind of envision that. It’s like Q in the James Bond movie. (LAUGHTER) Did they give you, like, fingerprint recognition technology or something?
OBAMA: The works. The works. It turns into a car — (LAUGHTER) if I have to make a quick getaway.
LAUER: How many people have that e-mail address?
OBAMA: I handful. Look, there are security issues involved. And so we’ve gotta make sure that I’m not — creating a situation where — you know, potential people can compromise our —
LAUER: — can they contact you on that BlackBerry?
OBAMA: Typically, world leaders are gonna be contacting me through the Oval Office. They know how to reach me there.
LAUER: Sasha and Malia?
OBAMA: Sasha and Malia can always contact me.
OBAMA: Well, the —
LAUER: (LAUGHTER) Maybe.
LAUER: You’re not gonna hook me up, are you?
OBAMA: Matt, do you want one?
LAUER: I — no, I — I want your e-mail address. (LAUGHTER)
LAUER: — during the game.
OBAMA: I like your son. I might give it to him. I’m not gonna give it to you.
LAUER: Let me end on something — not only did you just become president, obviously that carries a certain amount of fame — with it. But — but you have achieved a — a certain rock star status outside of that.
OBAMA: Outside of my house. (LAUGHTER)
LAUER: Yeah, well — let — let me show you. This is the — the current issue of — of Us Weekly.
LAUER: And here’s a great picture —
OBAMA: Oh, it’s beautiful.
LAUER: — of — of you and — and Michelle and — and your daughters. Now, the — the reason I bring this up I think is funny. It’s a great picture.
LAUER: But I wanna show you the cover. Look what they did. They — they took you off the cover.
LAUER: They took you out of it.
OBAMA: It — it’s — it’s a little hurtful.
LAUER: You got replaced by Jessica Simpson.
OBAMA: Yeah, who’s losing a weight battle apparently. (LAUGHTER) Yeah. Oh, well.
LAUER: What would you like to say to the tens of millions of people who are watching this game today?
OBAMA: Well, listen, have a wonderful time. The Super Bowl is — is — one of the finest American traditions. I wanna give a special shout out to our trips overseas who are gonna be watching this because — you know, you allow not just this game to take place but — our liberties to be preserved. And we’re very grateful to you.
LAUER: President Obama, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for welcoming us to the White House.
LAUER: Enjoy the game. Have a great time.
LAUER: Thank you. We certainly will.
OBAMA: I’ll — I’ll see if I have to eat my words again.
LAUER: We’ll — we’ll see. We’ll call you tomorrow, okay? I’ll e-mail you. (LAUGHTER)
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints