TODAY   |  April 17, 2013

Obama: Gun control should ‘transcend politics’

President Obama sat down with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie for an exclusive conversation about gun control, immigration, and his hopes for bipartisan agreement.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> exclusive interview with president obama , with he sat down with him just hours after the tragic events in boston. in part one we discussed the push for new gun legislation, tensions with north korea and the fight over the budget. this morning part two as you i ask the president about the other headlines of the day and the relationship with the newtown families. they've been a key part of the new gun legislation. the bill may not have the support when the senate holds its first vote this afternoon. these families are in the midst of their grief. it's right now. do you feel personally responsible to them, having started this journey with them?

>> well, i feel personally responsible the same way i hope every parent out there feels responsible, for all our kids. the key thing for me is every once in a while , we are confronted with an issue that should transcend politics, and now is the time for us to take some measure of action that's going to prevent some of these tragedies from happening again.

>> on immigration, do you think this is a once in a generation moment where reform can actually get done? how confident are you that you'll get a bill by the end of the summer ?

>> you know what? i'm reasonably confident on this one. i think that you've seen great work on a bipartisan basis between democratic and republican senators. so if you take that package together, one that's supported by labor, that's supported by business, that's supported by advocacy groups , that's supported by evangelical christian groups, you know, this is about as broad-based a coalition as you're going to get.

>> has marco rubio shown political courage?

>> i think he has been a very positive force as have all the senators who have been involved and my hope is not only we end up with an immigration bill that shows we're a nation of laws and a nation of citizens that helps our economic growth, that helps us attract incredible talent to our shores, but i also hope that it kind of restarts muscle memory in congress for getting bipartisan legislation done.

>> dinner diplomacy. how is your charm offensive going with republicans?

>> i don't know about my charms but they've been useful conversations. i think that everybody involved in them has felt like they created some space to talk about areas of agreement and disagreement. i've always maintained that people are not as polarized, even in this town, as it's portrayed in the media. the political engines of the party and blogs, et cetera , force people into taking more extreme positions publicly than they actually believe privately. i'm willing to try everything. as i said i'm willing to wash folks cars and walk their dogs if i can get some legislation passed.

>> have you been watching the philadelphia abortion doctor trial accused of gruesome crimes. are you following and do you think it animates a larger debate about abortion in this country?

>> well, i'm familiar with it. i can't comment on it because it's an active trial. what i can say is this. i think president clinton said it pretty well when he said abortion should be safe, legal and rare. if an individual carrying out an abortion, operating a clinic or doing anything else is violating medical ethics , violating the law, then they should be prosecuted.

>> carmela harris, you had to apologize for listing among her many qualifications that she was the best looking attorney general in america. why did you apologize? did you really think you did something wrong or was it blown out of proportion?

>> well, look, you know, pamela is a friend of mine. we had been joking off stage, you know, when i got to the stage, i made the same joke and obviously some people i think reacted negatively. kamala knew where i was coming from but it was a useful teaching moment for me and for the country. as the father of two daughters i want to make sure they're judged on the merits and not on their appearance and so i've got no problem in people i think using what was intended as an innocuous comment to make this larger point that we want to make sure that women are judged based on the job they do and not how they look.

>> let me ask you about jay-z and beyonce's trip to cuba. were you aware of it ahead of time and have you seen his open letter which raps about getting white house clearance?

>> i wasn't familiar that they were taking the trip. my understanding is i think they went through a group that organizes these educational trips down to cuba. this is not something the white house was involved with. we've got better things to do.

>> last thing, i know you're not endorsing but do you personally hope that hillary clinton runs in 2016 ?

>> you know, i think we're very far away from that, but i have said before and i'll say again i think she was an extraordinary secretary of state and she became not only a great partner for me in foreign policy but a good friend.

>> do you miss her around here?

>> i do. she's earned her rest and i know that whatever she does, she's going to be able to continue to be a leader and incredibly positive force for the causes i care about and that she cares about, all