60 Minutes: President Obama On Vladimir Putin
Steve Kroft from 60 Minutes sat down with President Barack Obama to talk about a number of different issues, including the situation with Russia in the Ukraine. Vladimir Putin and President Obama have been in a face off over that situation with a state of tension between the United States and Russia not seen in decades.
President Obama said he’s always had a business-like relationship with Putin that is “blunt” and “firm”.
60 Minutes: Obama on Russian Aggression
“What I’ve said from the outset is that Russian aggression, violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a smaller, weaker country, violates international norms and is contrary to all the progress that’s been made in creating a peaceful and prosperous Europe after World War II and then after the Cold War period,” he said.
He added that the sanctions placed on Russia through American leadership have hurt their economy and given them pause. Now, a ceasefire has been brokered between the Ukrainian separatists, Russia, and the Ukraine. Recently, there was an agreement announced that Russian gas will still be sold to Ukraine so they’re not going to freeze this winter.
Obama said none of that would have happened unless we took a firm line with them that what they did was wrong while still allowing them the chance to take a different path.
He added that Russia is a great country with incredible talent and wonderful traditions. If they focus on their engineering talent and growing their economy, then they’re going to be a “great power in this world”.
60 Minutes: Will There Be A War Between Russia and NATO?
Steve Kroft asked if Obama thought there was going to be a military confrontation between NATO and Russia in the Ukraine. Obama said no, but he did say that they’ve worked hard to assure smaller NATO nations on the border with Russia that they mean it when they say if you mess with a NATO country, then there will be a military confrontation. This is even written in the NATO treaty in Article 5. He also said Putin understood this, with the implication that Putin would never act with that in place.
He also said he thought there’s still a possibility of Russia moving in a better direction. He said he thought Putin’s whole policy on Ukraine was improvised after the protests began in Ukraine. Obama said he believed Putin wanted to keep Ukraine in his orbit and so he used “state propaganda” inside Russia to increase nationalist settlement. Obama said this is great for poll numbers, but it’s bad for his economy and Russia’s future, as well as Europe’s future.
Obama said that Russia needs to abide by international norms.
“We’re not looking for confrontation, but we’re gonna be very firm about the principles at stake,” Obama said.
60 Minutes: President Obama On Midterm Elections
This is all happening less than six weeks before Congressional midterm elections. That’s always a tricky time for any president, let alone one with so many foreign crises at the same time. Right now, public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy and foreign policy.
Steve Kroft asked Obama about the upcoming midterm elections. Was he worried about it? Or was he optimistic?
60 Minutes: What Obama Did For The Economy
Obama said that when he first came into office, our economy was in crisis. Unemployment was at 10 percent and now it’s down to 6.1 percent.
“We’ve had the longest run of uninterrupted private sector job growth in our history,” Obama said.
He we’ve seen deficits cut by half and that we’re producing more traditional energy and clean energy than we’ve ever had before.
“I can put my record against any leader around the world in terms of digging ourselves out of a terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis. Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ In this case, ‘Are you better off than you were in six?’ And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office,” he said.
60 Minutes: What We Still Need To Do For The Economy
He added that the average person isn’t feeling it because incomes and wages aren’t going up. He said we need to raise the minimum wage, make sure women are paid the same as men for doing the same work, and do more to invest in job training.
He also promised that manufacturing is coming back to the United States, with businesses saying for the first time in a long time that they should be investing in the United States. He also gently reminded us that the U.S. government saved the auto industry.
60 Minutes: Can The Democrats Hold The Senate?
“Do you think you could hold the Senate?” Steve Kroft asked.
“Yes. I do,” Obama said.
“You think that you can sell this, what we’ve been talking about. You think you can convince people that they’re doing fine economically?” Kroft asked.
“Hopefully, they get a chance to hear the argument. Because all I’m doing is presenting the facts,” Obama said.