Barack Obama says he is not the most liberal president in U.S. history, prompting Fox News' Bill O'Reilly to ask who would be to the left of him.
Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor"
on Monday was recorded after a 10-minute live interview aired on the Fox broadcast network during the Super Bowl pregame show on Sunday.
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"Are you the most liberal president in U.S. history?" O'Reilly asked Obama.
"Probably not," Obama answered. "When you look at some of my policies, in a lot of ways Richard Nixon was more liberal than I was."
Obama noted that the Republican Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency.
O'Reilly said he expected Obama to say Franklin Roosevelt, to which Obama noted that FDR and Lyndon Johnson were authors of the New Deal and the Great Society, respectively.
But Obama said he doesn’t see it as a question of liberal versus conservative as much as looking at what the country needs "right now."
"I think that you are much more friendly to a nanny state than I am," O'Reilly told the president. "I am much more of a self-reliance guy; you're more of a big-government-will-solve-your -problems guy."
Obama said that assessment was wrong. Things that were once considered sensible, such as Social Security and Medicare, are now labeled liberal, he said.
"But you're paying for that," O'Reilly said. "It's the freebies that are the problem."
"We have not massively expanded the welfare state," Obama said. Programs such as student loans are an investment in the future, he said, and do not represent a "nanny state."
The headline from Sunday's live interview was about Obama blaming Fox News
for his problems. O'Reilly asked him more about that in the interview that aired Monday.
"I can't speak for Fox News, but I'm the table-setter here at 8 o'clock. Do you think I'm unfair to you?" O'Reilly asked.
"Absolutely. Of course you are, Bill. But I like you anyway," Obama answered.
"Give me how I'm unfair. Come on. You can't make that accusation without telling me," O'Reilly countered.
Obama noted that in the first interview, O'Reilly asked about Benghazi, Obamacare and the IRS scandal – all conservative issues not covered as much by the mainstream media.
"But these are unanswered questions," O'Reilly argued.
"But they're defined by you guys in a certain way," Obama said, adding, "Look, this is OK. If you want to be president of the United States, then you know that you're going to be subject to criticism."
O'Reilly pressed for how he had been unfair.
"Criticism is criticism," O'Reilly said. "It's my job to give you a hard time."
Obama said that regardless of whether it was fair, Fox News has become very successful criticizing him.
"Here's what you guys are going to have to figure out: what are you going to do when I'm gone?" Obama said. "I've been a big money-maker for you."
O'Reilly said he had given Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush just as much grief as he has given Obama.
"I gave President Bush a real hard time," he said.
On other issues, O'Reilly asked why the president and first lady Michelle Obama had not addressed the issue of black poverty and a 72 percent rate of out-of-wedlock births.
"We address it explicitly all the time," the president said, saying he had done so in "at least 10 speeches."
"Whether it's getting publicity or not is a whole different question," he said.
O'Reilly asked whether Obama plans to allow the Keystone XL oil pipeline to run through the United States from Canada now that the State Department has said it won't have a major environmental impact.
Obama said government agencies and the public now have time to comment, and Secretary of State John Kerry will then give him a recommendation.
The two agreed on the issue of helping wounded military veterans and their families. O'Reilly noted that every time he has asked Obama's help in fundraisers, he has always come through.
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