[Video below.] In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, President Obama said Sunday that he’s confident a new Egyptian government would continue to be a partner of the United States, and he again called on President Hosni Mubarak to allow for an orderly transition to a new representative government.
“Egypt is not going to go back to what it was,” Obama said during the interview on Fox’s Super Bowl pregame telecast. “The Egyptian people want freedom, they want free and fair elections, they want a representative government, they want a responsive government. So what we’ve said is, you’ve got to start a transition now.”
Obama also said the Muslim Brotherhood should be part of that transition, even as he conceded there are “strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S.”
“The Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt. They don’t have majority support,” he said. “There are a whole bunch of secular folks in Egypt. There are a whole bunch of educators and civil society in Egypt that wants to come to the fore as well. So it’s important for us not to say that our only two options are either the Muslim Brotherhood or a suppressed Egyptian people.”
The 15-minute interview, teased endlessly as a showdown between Obama and the conservative commentator, was a freewheeling exchange in which the two sparred about Obama’s ideology and record just after he has reached the midpoint of his term. O’Reilly asked the president whether he favors a redistribution of wealth, whether he was prepared for his healthcare law to be struck down, and whether he has moved to the center since a self-described “shellacking” of his party last November.
“I’m the same guy,” he said. “My practical focus, my common-sense focus right now, is how do we out-innovate, out-educate, out-build, out-compete the rest of the world. How do we create jobs here in the United States of America, how do we make sure that businesses are thriving? But how are we also making sure that ordinary Americans can live out the American dream, because right now they don’t feel like they are.”
On healthcare, Obama pointed to court rulings supporting his landmark law overhauling the system even as a court in Florida found a provision mandating that all Americans have insurance was unconstitutional. He framed that provision as one of personal responsibility.
“There’s nothing socialist about that,” he said. “That’s saying to Americans, we’re each of us going to be responsible about healthcare.”
This was the third year the president has sat down for a live interview before the Super Bowl, typically the highest-rated television event of the year.
Click below to watch the interview:
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