Special Reports

Brian Taff interviews President Obama

Thursday, November 03, 2011

We were invited to the White House to speak with the President about his jobs plan.

He is aggressively pushing it. Republicans are effectively blocking it. Each side is blaming the other for inaction.

This was his effort to bypass Washington and speak to voters where they live.

In the process, we got a unique look at where he lives.

Our day began inside the White House Cabinet Room just outside the Oval Office.

I asked the President, "As we stand here today, unemployment in Pennsylvania and Delaware is north of 8-percent, in New Jersey its well north of 9-percent and this is the one question people really wanted us to ask you - With Washington in gridlock, and millions of Americans out of work, where are the jobs? And what about that promised hope and change?"

"It's grown," the President replied, adding, "We haven't grown the economy enough though and I share their frustration. That's why I put forward the American Jobs Act."

Which he says will create up to 1.9 million jobs.

Republicans though dispute that figure; critics of the plan are taking issue with tax increases included within it.

Now, with the power of his presidency not enough to move the bill forward, he's hoping the voice of the voters will be.

But many of them are dissatisfied with him.

"So with some introspection, I would ask, do you ever feel as though you've overpromised?" I asked.

"What's happened is, not everyone here in Washington got the message of hope and change," the President said.

The effort to open the door to public debate came with an open door invite to our cameras.

We were granted rare access to the White House and its 18-acre grounds.

In the Grand Dining Room, heads of state are welcomed with a grand banquet.

The carpet in every room, we learned, is one of two that are identical each rotated in every 9 months to allow the other time to "breathe."

Next door at the Red Room, decades ago was a place for the First Lady and her guests to go after dinner.

"In that era, they were expected to have polite, nonpolitical conversation," White House curator Bill Allman said.

Behind another door is the Blue Room, home each year to the First Family's Christmas tree.

White House chef Sam Kass is one of those responsible for cooking the family meals each night and much of its from produce grown in the first ever White House Kitchen Garden.

"It's beyond a dream. I couldn't have imagined, I couldn't have even dreamed this one up," Kass said.

The garden is part of the First Lady's fresh food initiative, aimed at increasing access to affordable fresh produce in low income areas, modeled after similar programs in the Philadelphia area.

"We've been really inspired by the model that Philadelphia put together and really draw a lot of our effort from what's going on there," Kass said.

This summer the garden harvested some 2,000 pounds of food, much of it donated.

The garden is also a favorite place for Bo, the First Dog. He is maybe among the most popular residents ever of the White House.

With respect to the American Jobs Act, the President is now working to enact various provisions by using executive order, effectively bypassing Congress.

We talked for several minutes about the current economy, and the challenges he'll face trying to get reelected next year.

You can watch the entire video here.

The Republican National Committee Chairman had some rebuttal words to Obama's interview with us concerning the President's policies.

"The harsh reality is that Obama has had plenty of time, but very few of Barack Obama's promises have come to fruition because Obama can't win reelection with his policies, now he's going to do what he does best  campaign," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said.

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washington, d.c., president barack obama, brian taff, white house, special reports, brian taff
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