CBS Interview Devolves Into Asking Obama What’s in His Pockets

After sitting down with the President and the First Lady on Sunday for a friendly chat before the Super Bowl, CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King was not finished with her sycophantic fawning as she followed Obama into the Oval Office for a one-on-one exchange highlighted by her asking what “cool things” he was carrying in his pockets that day.

In the taped segment aired on Tuesday’s edition of the morning show, King gushed: “It's a thrill to be in the Oval Office, I have to say, so I can't imagine what it's like for you every day. And you've had a lot of memorable people in here. I won't name the list. But you do have something that really stands out in your mind where you said that was a really good day in the Oval Office?”

Moments later, she expressed her delight at the President playing with children in the Oval Office: “You know, one of my favorites is, there's a picture of a little black boy rubbing your hair, that’s one. And the other one with little Ella – I think it’s Ella Rhodes. You're lifting her up. I love the shots with the kids in the Oval Office with you.” Obama replied: “I love getting on the ground with babies in the Oval Office.”

Finally, King got to the hard-hitting news of what the President had in his pockets: “Every day I hear that you put something in your pocket that was given to you. Do you have anything in the pocket today?...I heard there's cool things in the President’s pockets.”

Obama used the chance to tout his action on illegal immigration: “So this is a little picture of the Lady of Guadeloupe that a Latino elderly woman gave to me. She was imploring me to get immigration laws reformed.”

Wrapping up the pointless discussion, King wondered what kind of stress the commander-in-chief must be under – but not related to his actual job: “...you're going through major stress in terms of what people think of stress. Job change, moving, first daughter going to college. Which is most stressful for you?”

Obama responded: “Oh, not even close, Malia going off and leaving. Yeah, that will make me tear up. We're not going to talk about that on camera.” King sympathized: “I don’t want you to tear up. Thank you so much for letting us invade your Super Bowl Sunday.” She then proceeded to hug her pal the President.

 

Here is a full transcript of the exchange aired on February 9:

8:33 AM ET

GAYLE KING: Now more from our interview with President Obama. We spoke with the President and the First Lady at the White House on Sunday right before the big game. Then we walked on over to the Oval Office. These are the President's final months, as you know, on the job, and he's more reflective, they say, about opening up about how the role changed him and what stresses him out when it comes to the future.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Inside the Oval Office; President Obama on How the Job Has Changed Him]

[To Obama] I'm curious about how the presidency has changed you as a president and how you’ve changed as a man in the time that you’ve been in the office.  

BARACK OBAMA: My basic character is unchanged, and Michelle and close friends of mine who’ve known me for years would say, “He's the same guy.” There's obviously some hard won wisdom from overcoming challenges, figuring out really hard problems. Maybe it's just a function of age as well as having been around the track a while as president, is you lose that fear. You lose that sense of, “What if something goes wrong?” Because there are going to be things that go wrong.

KING: It's a thrill to be in the Oval Office, I have to say, so I can't imagine what it's like for you every day. And you've had a lot of memorable people in here. I won't name the list. But you do have something that really stands out in your mind where you said that was a really good day in the Oval Office?

OBAMA: Recently, the visit with Pope Francis.

KING: Yeah, of course.

OBAMA: Where we had a chance to share thoughts and prayer. You know, he's somebody who is the real deal. I think he deeply cares about people, about the most vulnerable.

KING: You know, one of my favorites is, there's a picture of a little black boy rubbing your hair, that’s one. And the other one with little Ella – I think it’s Ella Rhodes.

OBAMA: Yeah.

KING: You're lifting her up. I love the shots with the kids in the Oval Office with you.  

OBAMA: I love getting on the ground with babies in the Oval Office. And they're unrestrained, so they'll run around, they'll take out all the apples out of the bowl and set them in various places and then put them back. They're out of control.

KING: Some of them don't know you're the president, which is always nice. Not very many people can say that.

OBAMA: Exactly.

KING: Well, here are in campaign 2016, lots of people want your job.

OBAMA: Yeah.

KING: If we had said a year ago the people leading in New Hampshire are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, what would you have said a year ago when you heard that?

OBAMA: Look. There's no doubt I would have been surprised. And yet, I always have to remind people that this is really early in the process. Early on, oftentimes voters want to just vent and vote their – their passions. As the process goes on and they see how people react, I think they recognize that this is a pretty serious job and you've about got to make sure that the person who's in the job is somebody who has the judgment to lead the country and not just to mouth slogans.  

KING: You know, when you came in the office, I'll never forget the video of thousands of people sitting there cheering you on, really all around the world, and the message was hope and change. There were a lot of expectations for you, voters had, both black and white. Do you think you’ve met those expectations that people had for you all those years ago?

OBAMA: When you're in the middle of it, it's sometimes hard to get perspective. I have a list of things that I promised I would do. I check that list every so often to see how we're doing. I've done a lot of them and I've made progress on almost all of them. And so, I feel pretty good about being able to match up what I said I would accomplish with what has been accomplished. I mentioned in the State of the Union that one of the things I regret, though, is that I haven't been able to drain some of the rancor that exists here in Washington and my hope is that as I am not on the ballot again, that I can contribute to getting people to step back for a moment and say, you know, we're on the same team here.

KING: Every day I hear that you put something in your pocket that was given to you. Do you have anything in the pocket today?

OBAMA: No, well, I always have –   

KING: I heard there's cool things in the President’s pockets.

OBAMA: No, I keep these charms that people have given me along the way and they rotate.

KING: And every day you have something.

OBAMA: So this is a little picture of the Lady of Guadeloupe that a Latino elderly woman gave to me. She was imploring me to get immigration laws reformed. This is – this is rosary beads from Pope Francis.

KING: I'll take this. Thank you.

OBAMA: You're welcome.

KING: Alright, we're going to leave because I know you’ve got to go to the Super Bowl, but I just have one more question, Josh, one more. Because you're going through major stress in terms of what people think of stress. Job change, moving, first daughter going to college.

OBAMA: Yeah.

KING: Which is most stressful for you?

OBAMA: Oh, not even close, Malia going off and leaving. Yeah, that will make me tear up. We're not going to talk about that on camera.

KING: I don’t want you to tear up. Thank you so much for letting us invade your Super Bowl Sunday.

[KING HUGS OBAMA]

OBAMA: Thank you.       

KING: He's like, “Okay now, Gayle, get out of here.” That crackling that you can hear, was we’re standing by the fireplace. And by the fifth minute you start getting real hot back there. But I knew if I said, “Can we move?,” that would be the end of the interview. We were supposed to have eight minutes and we went about 15. That’s why I said to Josh Earnest, his press secretary, “Can we just do one more, one more?”

CHARLIE ROSE: You know, what's interesting is, two things most of all, one is the list. I'd love to see the list. And secondly, he said, “I hope to contribute,” after he leaves. I’d love to know how he hopes to contribute and what he expects his life to be.  

KING: Well, they definitely have some ideas, they're just not sharing them at this particular time. But they have some ideas on that.

NORAH O’DONNELL: No, and it was a good question about those mementos that he carries in his pockets because he's met some really interesting, inspiring people along the way on the campaign. And it tells you how what happens in the Oval Office, where you meet all those interesting people and world leaders, affects some of the most ordinary Americans everyday.

KING: One day he had Bruce Springsteen's guitar pick.

O’DONNELL: In his pocket?

KING: Yeah, he told us that. I said I would have liked to have seen that. Very nice. I appreciate the time

O’DONNELL: What does the Oval Office carpet read?

KING: I know what it reads.

O’DONNELL: Yeah, “The arc of history bends justice.”

KING: I know what it is.

O’DONNELL: The MLK quote, yeah.  

KING: And he has a bust of MLK right there, too. We didn't have time to get into that.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC