As he enters the fourth quarter of his presidency, President Obama said he hopes the nation celebrates continued economic growth and that the middle class will reap the benefits.
"We’ve made progress coming off the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes," he told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie during a live interview Sunday from the White House during NBC’s pre-game coverage of the Super Bowl. "We're now back in a really strong position, and I just want to make sure in two years when we look back we’ll say, not only that we recovered from that crisis, but actually we built the kind of foundation that ensures America does well for generations to come."
Obama said he'd like to see the middle class benefit more from the wealth generated from recent stock market gains and increased corporate profits.
"If we can make sure that growth is coming from the middle class out, everybody is benefiting from the hard work they're putting in," he said.
Obama spoke with Guthrie from the White House kitchen, standing in front of samples of homemade beer, made on site. The chief executive toasted Savannah with a brew, boasting about being “the first president since George Washington to make some booze in the White House.”
The president has provided similar interviews every year with the network broadcasting the Super Bowl. TODAY's Matt Lauer interviewed Obama the last time NBC aired the Super Bowl in 2012. After the live interview, Obama provided a fuller, taped interview with Guthrie that will air Monday on TODAY.
On Sunday, Obama refused to make a prediction about who would win the Super Bowl, particularly since his beloved Chicago Bears weren’t playing in the game.
“I think it’s only wise for me not to choose a team because then I just alienate one big city, but I will say it’s going to be close and the question I have is whether Seattle’s secondary is healthy enough,” he said, referring to the fact that the Seahawks have three injured members.
Obama also was asked about his opinion on “Deflate-gate,” the controversy surrounding the possibility that New England intentionally deflated its footballs before the AFC championship game.
“Here’s what I know. The Patriots were going to beat the Colts regardless of what the footballs looked like,” he said.
Asked whether the Patriots cheated, the president said: “If you break the rules, you break the rules.”
Obama also addressed questions about his recent State of the Union address, which some criticized as overly confident for a president whose Democratic party lost the Senate and numerous seats in the House.
"My job is to present the right ideas, and if the Republicans think they have a better idea, they should present them, but my job is not to trim my sales and not tell the American people what we should be doing," he said.
"One of the things I’ve learned over the last six years, is that when I tell the American people very clearly what direction I think the country should go in, sometimes people change their minds and even Republicans occasionally start agreeing with me, although sometimes a little bit later than I would like."
Obama ended the live segment with a sip of the White House honey ale, made from honey from the first lady's garden beehives, and a game of "either/or." Here's what he learned about the president:
- Football or basketball? "I’m still a basketball guy but I love football."
- Offense or defense? "Always offense."
- Wings or chips and guacamole? "Now that's tough. I'm going to go with chips and guac. I’m a fanatic about guac."
- Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden? "Love them both," Obama said without skipping a beat. "Good try!"
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