Barack Obama appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program this morning and spoke with former Rep. Joe Scarborough and journalist Mika Brzezinski about last night’s New Hampshire primary vote.
Scarborough wasted no time, asking Obama, “What happened last night?”
Obama replied, “We have been running a very hard campaign here in New Hampshire, and we were down by 20 points [in the polls] as recently as six or eight weeks ago. So we knew this was going to be pretty close: We got it close; we fell a little bit short.
“But the themes that we’ve been talking about — bringing people together, overcoming the special interest politics that have become typical in Washington, being straight with the American people about how we’re going to solve problems — that message is still resonating, so we just have to make sure we’re working hard in Nevada and South Carolina and the February 5 states. And we continue to be confident that we’re going to end up doing well.”
Scarborough then asked, regarding Obama’s speech last night, “Senator, I’ve been around candidates on winning nights and on losing nights. Last night . . . you looked happy, despite the fact that you were stunned by Hillary Clinton. You gave an extraordinarily optimistic speech. How could you be happy under circumstances like that? How could you be so positive? That was inspiring.”
Obama laughed and said, “Joe, I don’t want to lie to you . . . I would have much rather won!”
“But,” he said, “what we knew was this race was always going to be hard. We are the insurgent campaign. And over the last few days, because of our win in Iowa, folks started to anoint us the way that they were anointing Senator Clinton, and that’s always a dangerous place to be.
“I feel a lot more comfortable now, understanding that this is a victory we are going to have to earn, and the American people are not going to just hand over the keys to the White House without really explaining to them how you’re going to provide them healthcare that works, how you’re going to make college affordable, how you’re going to bring the troops home from Iraq and keep America safe. And so in some ways, to see us have to earn this . . . that’s a pretty healthy thing.
“So if you’re going to have a narrow loss in circumstances where you’re still inspiring new people to come into the process, that’s not a bad way to do it.”
Brzezinski asked, regarding the Clinton camp’s tactics and the probability of a harsher spotlight on Obama’s campaign, “Are you ready for the scrutiny to come?”
The senator replied, “We’ve been going through scrutiny since I announced in February. It’s not as if you guys in the press have given me a pass. That’s the real fairy tale — Bill Clinton suggesting somehow that we’ve been taking a cakewalk here. As I recall, all through the summer there were questions about experience, people were asking me questions about my policies on meeting with foreign leaders. They’ve been pushing this agenda hard.
“But the American people are making a pretty good assessment. They think I’m ready for the White House, but they also think that there are some strong candidates in this race, and they’re trying to sort through who can best deliver on change . . .
“The playing field has shifted in our direction. You notice all the candidates are talking in our terms, and we have to make sure we’re clear about who’s best equipped to bring about change.”
He did have some final words on whatever Hillary Clinton might throw at him: “I promise you this. I come from Chicago politics. We’re accustomed to rough and tumble.”
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