ABC's Stephanopoulos Gushes with Obama About Life in the White House

ABC’s resident Clinton insider George Stephanopoulos kicked off a special edition of This Week on Sunday with what he billed as President Barack Obama’s “exit interview.” As would be expected, the entire hour show was dedicated to their conversation with much of it set up to help Obama frame his legacy. But the interview started out slow with Stephanopoulos asking fluffy questions about life in the White House, “We're walking toward your office. I have to think you're going miss the short commute.”

The president gave a chuckle and told Stephanopoulos that it was one of “biggest benefits” to the job most people don’t think about. “I have never had to travel more than 30 seconds from home to office,” Obama continued to joke.

The next question from the former Bill Clinton White House staffer was a real burner, “How long did it take for the White House the feel like home, though?” Having little kids to tuck in at night helped, according to Obama, and of course, “Not to mention having a mother-in-law upstairs.”

As both liberals walked and talked, they made their way down the west colonnade. “This part of the White House is so iconic,” Stephanopoulos blurted out, teeing up Obama to ramble:

BARACK OBAMA: It’s my favorite. This walk. It -- it doesn't matter what time of day it is. In some ways, I feel more attached to this walk even than the Oval Office,” the president stated looking out over the lawn.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe it.

OBAMA: Yeah, there's something about these steps and thinking about everybody who has walked here. And all the business that's been done here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And business gets done on this walk.

OBAMA: Yes, exactly … That reverence that you feel for the place never entirely leaves.

Stephanopoulos allowed Obama to pontificate about the work that his team put together, their long hours, and the relationships he’s made. “I also had a lot of young people who came in here,” Obama noted, “This probably you know echoes with you in your own experience. You were young when you got here.” “Didn't feel like it when I left,” Stephanopoulos replied.

The whole interview was filled with similar slow pitched questions designed to let Obama control the message. The show was broken up into segments with titles such as: “Obama’s Challenge to GOP on Health Care,” “How has Obama Changed America,” and one segment was honestly titled “The President Defends His Agenda.” ABC has often glowed about Obama during his time in office, and seem to be relishing the last few precious moments of it. 

Transcript below: 

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ABC
This Week
January 8, 2017
9:02:05 AM Eastern

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, thank you for doing this. We're walking toward your office. I have to think you're going miss the short commute.

BARACK OBAMA: [Laughter] I am. It's one of the biggest benefits of being president that you really don't think about until you get here. I have never had to travel more than 30 seconds from home to office. And -- it's -- because of that that I have been able to maintain really a family life that has nurtured and sustained me during this time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How long did it take for the White House the feel like home, though?

OBAMA: You know, it -- it took shorter I think for us just because when you got little kids, and you're tucking them in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's home.

OBAMA: It's home. Right? When they -- when you open a door, and they're in their pajamas and they're -- you know, wrestling with you and asking you, you know, to read to them and stuff. It starts feeling like home pretty quick. Not to mention having a mother-in-law upstairs. And, and the dog. And now two. It -- it feels even more like home now because you have all the memories that were formed watching your kids grow up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This part of the White House is so iconic.

OBAMA: It’s my favorite. This walk. It -- it doesn't matter what time of day it is. In some ways, I feel more attached to this walk even than the Oval Office.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe it.

OBAMA: Yeah, there's something about these steps and thinking about everybody who has walked here. And all the business that's been done here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And business gets done on this walk.

OBAMA: Yes, exactly. And even when you go up this ramp and you think about FDR Wheeling himself up. You know. Got a little cigarette holder in his mouth. And, it -- that -- that awe that you feel. That reverence that you feel for the place never entirely leaves.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that was one of things I was going ask you. I know you kept in touch with people by reading those letters every day. How did you keep in touch with the presidency?

OBAMA: It's an interesting question. I -- I more than anything, obviously, the presidency is the people. And -- it's been interesting the emotions in the last few months what you realize is that you may never have a team that is together in the same way under the same pressures and the attachments that you make to folks from your chief of staff down to –

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s the ultimate bunker.

OBAMA: It is. And the people -- here have been extraordinary. We had a -- a farewell dinner for some of my senior staff. And -- generally, you know, everybody likes to talk about how cool I was. I had trouble getting through just a few remarks because --not only do you appreciate the sacrifices they have made and the hours they have kept and the -- soccer games they’ve missed and the birthday parties. I also had a lot of young people who came in here. This probably you know echoes with you in your own experience. You were young when you got here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Didn't feel like it when I left.

OBAMA: Yeah. But now suddenly, you got -- members of your team who were 23, 24. They met their wives here, or husbands here.

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro