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Obama: 'Let Me Smack This Guy on the Head'

The former president gives a wide-ranging interview to Gayle King on 'CBS This Morning'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2020 4:30 PM CST

(Newser) – Former President Obama sat down with Gayle King to plug his new memoir A Promised Land—and covered, among other things, why he once wanted to smack a congressman on the head. Obama admits he was "shocked" when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted "You lie!" as the president laid out Obamacare in a joint session of Congress: "And my initial instinct is, 'Let me walk down and smack this guy on the head. What is he thinking?' And instead, I just said, 'That's not true,' and I just move on," said Obama, per CBS News. "He called afterwards to apologize—although, as I point out in the book, he saw a huge spike in campaign contributions to him from Republicans across the country who thought he had done something heroic." For more, including his take on alleged election fraud:

  • Sen. McConnell: "Part of what I try to describe is how early that obstructionist attitude starts," he said of Sen. Mitch McConnell's vow to make Obama a one-term president. "I mean, it started on Day One, 'cause we were trying to pass the Recovery Act, the stimulus package. People were losing their jobs, they were losing their homes, and the economy was collapsing." But "we didn't get any" cooperation.

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  • Bipartisanship: "We tried everything. We had Super Bowl parties! We'd invite them to dinner. I'd go to their caucus meetings."
  • The work: "The fuss of being president, the pomp, the press, the physical constraints, all that I could have done without. The actual work, though? The work, I loved, even when it didn't love me back."
  • Michelle: "I am mindful of the sacrifices that she made, but the good news is that for whatever reason, she has forgiven me, sort of. She still reminds me occasionally of what she put up with!"
  • 2020 election: "It is not my preference to be out there," he said of hitting Joe Biden's campaign trail. "I think we were in a circumstance in this election in which certain norms, certain institutional values that are so extraordinarily important, had been breached—that it was important for me, as somebody who had served in that office, to simply let people know, 'This is not normal.'"
  • Election fraud: Republicans "obviously didn't think there was any fraud going on, 'cause they didn't say anything for the first two days. But there's damage to this, because what happens is that the peaceful transfer of power, the notion that any of us who attain an elected office—whether it's dogcatcher or president—are servants of the people. It's a temporary job."
For more, including his reactions to President Trump, visit CBS News. (Or read about an excerpt from Obama's memoir.)

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