Obama Talks Football, Troop Withdrawal, Malia And Sasha's School, And Jessica Simpson
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In a wide-ranging interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, President Obama said that a substantial number of the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq would be home within a year, saying Iraqis were now ready to take more responsibility for their own security.
Asked whether a substantial number of troops would be home in time for next year's Super Bowl, Obama replied: "Yes. We are going to roll out in a very formal fashion what our intentions are in Iraq as well as Afghanistan."
Obama also seemed to indicate that he intends to be proactive at engaging terrorist groups and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan: "We have to make sure we don't let up because there are people out there who want to do us harm."
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Dressed casually, in an open-collared checkered shirt, Obama also discussed football, his Blackberry, the stimulus package, his relationship with Republicans and even laughed at the fact that he was bumped for Jessica Simpson on a recent issue of Us Weekly.
As to the fate of the stimulus package currently before the Senate, Obama expressed confidence that it would be passed but also demonstrated his disappointment that not a single Republican voted for the package when it was approved by the House last week - despite his best efforts to engage GOP leaders.
He said that he had done "extraordinary outreach to Republicans because they have some good ideas and I want to make sure that those ideas are incorporated."
In a sign of his ambition to get the package passed and expression of his desire for the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals, Obama joked that he would refrain from waving his Steelers' Terrible Towel because "we have some Arizona congressman [such as presidential opponent, Senator John McCain] and I might need their vote on the recovery."
He also opened up about his daughters' experience at their new school, the prestigious Sidwell Friends School. "They're loving school, they're making friends, have some friends from school over today. They're already joined some clubs. Sasha, she decided she wanted to join a basketball team. What more could I want?"
Discussing the college football bowl system, which he opposes in favor of a playoff system, Obama revealed that one of his Secret Service protectors has a son who plays tackle on the Florida Gators.
And he joked about his much-discussed Blackberry (and revealed his inner nerd): "It's like Inspector Gadget. If you touched it, it might blow up. It turns into a car if I have to make a quick getaway."
When Lauer asked about who has the coveted number, Obama said he wouldn't give it to Lauer but he might give it to Lauer's young son Jack, prompting Lauer to whisper, "Jack, give it to your pappa."
Finally, when Lauer held up a recent issue of Us Weekly, noting that Obama's face had been cut off on the cover, bumped by a photo of Jessica Simpson, Obama quipped, "Who's in a weight battle apparently."