Mr. Obama's First Interview Since the Election
Mr. Obama held his first interview on Dec.10 with the Chicago Tribune reporters in a sparely furnished office since his election on Nov. 4.
Mr. Obama discussed a wide range of issues about his strategy for his first year in office from his decision to keep his Chicago's home to his plan to reach out to the Muslim world, from his plan to retool the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to recalibrating American foreign policies, from his personal reflections on being the first African American President to following the tradition of being sworn in like all presidents, by using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.
One simple matter comes down to three little words, and on them he has made up his mind: he won't shrink from using his full name when he takes the oath of office.
During the campaign, Obama's detractors would often invoke his middle name, Hussein, in an attempt to falsely paint him as a Muslim. Obama, a Christian, doesn't care.
And when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20, he plans to be sworn in like every other president, using his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.
"I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition," he said. "I'm not trying to make a statement one way or another. I'll do what everybody else does.''
Barack Obama says his presidency is an opportunity for the U.S. to renovate its relations with the Muslim world, starting the day of his inauguration and continuing with a speech he plans to deliver in an Islamic capital.
"I think we've got a unique opportunity to reboot America's image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular,'' Obama said Tuesday, promising an "unrelenting" desire to "create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together."
The world, he said, "is ready for that message."
Mr. Obama said the country must take advantage of a unique chance to recalibrate relations around the globe, through a new diplomacy that emphasizes inclusiveness and tolerance as well as an unflinching stand against terrorism.
"The message I want to send is that we will be unyielding in stamping out the terrorist extremism we saw in Mumbai,"
And then there are the grand issues, like the burden placed on him by history. As the first African-American president, he acknowledges, he thinks about it.
"The biggest challenges we face right now in improving race relations have to do with the universal concerns of Americans across color lines," he said. "If we are creating jobs throughout this economy, then African-Americans and Latinos, who are disproportionately unemployed, are going to be swept up in that rising tide."
"I think that more than anything is going to improve race relations," he said, "a sense of common purpose.''
Even in the White House, though, he doesn't plan to sever ties to home. He made reference to former President George H.W. Bush's White House getaway--Kennebunkport, Maine.
"Let me explain to you, my Kennebunkport is on the South Side of Chicago," he said. "Our friends are here. Our family is here. We are going to try to come back here as often as possible . . . at least once every six weeks or couple months."
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