THE BLOG
09/21/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TIME Interview Uncovers More Than Obama's Veep Criteria

Yesterday's TIME interview by Karen Tumulty with Barack Obama has some gems for those of us who have been wondering about the campaign and its future as polls tighten and attacks mount. The interview was noted mainly for some pretty obvious veep talk. But in addition there were statements that tell us a good deal about how Obama believes he can win and how he will govern when he does.

You've got a candidate who is presenting policies that are identical to what George Bush has been doing for the last eight years. You've got somebody who intends to fundamentally change those policies so that they work for the average American family. And if people understand what those choices are, I think we will win.

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Whatever concerns people have about me, my campaign in particular, we heard those all during through the primaries, and the reason ...t I think we're going to be successful is it's not about me. It's about the American people, it's about the fact that their wages and incomes have flatlined, their costs have gone up, they are losing their homes. ...
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I give full credit to the Karl Rove acolytes who are working for John McCain and one of their general strategies is to try to turn strengths into weaknesses. The enthusiasm and involvement at the grass roots that we've seen in my campaign, I consider a strength. That's one of the reasons we are able to compete in 18 states, but those crowds and those rallies, those people have not come out because of my speechmaking.

They've come out because they understand what's at stake in this election. And that's not going to change ...
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One of the things that happens when you live overseas is you realize how special America is-- our values, our ideals, our Constitution, our rule of law, the idea of equality and opportunity. Those are things that we often take for granted, and it's only when you get out of the country that you see the majority of the world doesn't enjoy those same privileges.
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America has a special role to play in trying to lift up a set of ideas, a set of rules of conduct for countries, that aren't imposed by force, but by example. I think our economy has helped to provide a template for other countries, our judicial system has helped to inspire other countries.
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I don't think that we should be ashamed of asserting that rule of law is better than no rule of law, that democracy is better than authoritarianism, that a free press is better than a closed press. Yet how we achieve, or how we approach this, I think, has to take into account that not everybody is going to be at the same place right away, and that if we think we can simply impose our institutions through military means, that we'll probably fall short, because the world may be smaller, but it's not that small.
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I was exposed to thinkers on the left. At the same time, I was reading Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayak, and I was growing up when Ronald Reagan was ascendant. So the political culture of my formative years was much more conservative.

It partly explains why, if you look at not just my politics, but also I think who I am as a person--in some ways, I'm pretty culturally conservative. I was always suspicious of dogma, and the excesses of the left and the right.