The Obama campaign has released the transcript of an interview that had been off-the-record. In the interview, Obama provides more detail about what he would do if given a second term than can be found in the campaign's new second term agenda document.
As often happens with presidential candidates, President Barack Obama met with the editors of the Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in the swing state of Iowa, to answer questions before the editors decide who they will endorse. More unusual, though, was his request that the interview remain off-the-record. After much criticism from the press corps, Obama backed off the demand and a transcript of the interview has been published.
In a Tuesday night blog post, Rick Green, editor of the Des Moines Register, described his repeated attempts to get the interview, his surprise at being told that the interview would be off-the-record and his efforts to get the Obama campaign to reverse their decision.
"Our expectation is that the answer to one of the most important questions the Register ever can ask a politician – 'Why should you be our president?' – deserves to be shared with voters.
"It's unfortunate that did not happen today," Green wrote.
On Wednesday morning, without comment, the Obama campaign released the transcript of the conversation.
Just this week, the Obama campaign had changed its strategy from mostly attacking his opponent to talking about what he would do with another four year term. The campaign has repackaged many of Obama's talking points into a new 20 page document that will be handed out at swing state campaign stops and mailed to undecided voters.
What is unusual about the Des Moines Register interview is that Obama spoke about two important agenda items that he would seek to accomplish in a second term that are not mentioned in the new 20 page document – deficit reduction based upon "Bowles-Simpson" and immigration reform.
"It will probably be messy. It won't be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.
"And we can easily meet – 'easily' is the wrong word – we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth," Obama said.
Obama's new campaign document says he will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion, but much of that reduction is counting spending cuts that have already been passed in his first term and the reduced military spending that will come as troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
While Obama mentions the need for entitlement reform in the Des Moines Register interview, the only mention in the new campaign document is a promise to not end the guaranteed benefits or cut benefits for Social Security or Medicare. His only proposal in the document for reducing the costs of these programs is to partner with hospitals to reduce inpatient infections.
The second agenda item Obama said he would accomplish in a second term is immigration reform. The reason he believes he could accomplish this, he said, is that if he wins it will be because Romney has turned off Latino voters.
"The second thing I'm confident we'll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community," Obama said.
Obama also mentioned reducing regulations, corporate tax reform and spending more on infrastructure, all of which are in the new 20-page document.