POLITICS

Obama's Larry King Interview: Responds To New Yorker's "Attempt At Satire"

Obama will appear on Larry King tonight. Here are some excerpts.

On the New Yorker cover:

LARRY KING, HOST: I've heard a lot of others comment on it. We haven't heard you speak about it yet. That "New Yorker" cover which depicts you and your wife, and you dressed in a Muslim outfit, your wife in a kind of military outfit, Osama bin Laden's picture burning, what do you make of that?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I know it was The New Yorker's attempt at satire. I don't think they were entirely successful with it. But you know what? It's a cartoon, Larry, and that's why we've got the First Amendment ... You know, we've -- one of the things when you're running for president for almost two years is, you get a pretty thick skin. And, you know, I've seen and heard worse.

I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But, you know, that was their editorial judgment. And as I said, ultimately, it's a cartoon, it's not where the American people are spending a lot of their time thinking about.

On the smears the New Yorker referenced:

KING: Considering that, though, there's a lot of e-mails going around. It gets rather terrible. A "Newsweek" poll shows that 12 percent of America believes that you're a Muslim, and 26 believe -- 26 percent believe you were raised in a Muslim home. A lot of misinformation. How do you fight that?

OBAMA: Well, you know, by getting on "Larry King" and telling everybody I'm a Christian and I wasn't raised in a Muslim home. And pledge allegiance to the flag. And, you know, all the things that have been reported in these e-mails are completely untrue and have been debunked again and again and again. So, all you can do is just tell the truth and trust in the American people that over time, they're going to know what the truth is.

One last point I want to -- I do want to make about these e-mails, though. And I think this has an impact on this "New Yorker" cover. You know, this is actually an insult against Muslim-Americans, something that we don't spend a lot of time talking about. And sometimes I've been derelict in pointing that out. You know, there are wonderful Muslim-Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things. And for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate. And it's not what America's all about.

On listening to generals:

KING: If president, you're the commander in chief. How will you perceive dealing with your generals, your chiefs of staff and alike? Are they -- their impact important, very important, deciding? How do you view it?

OBAMA: Well, I think they're critically important, and developing a strong relationship with our top military officers is critical for any commander in chief. And I've been so impressed with the work that they have done consistently, even when they've been handed a very difficult and in some cases misguided mission, they're still executed with extraordinary skill and precision. And I think, for example, General Petraeus has done a terrific job with the cards that have been dealt to him.

But -- and this I think is the difference between myself and George Bush, and it's a difference between myself and John McCain. My job as commander in chief is to set the mission. It is to determine the strategy. And then to ask our military to carry it out. Now, how I set that strategy is going to be informed by what capabilities we have, what information is on the ground. But ultimately, the buck stops with me.

And so you will not hear me say what President Bush has said, which is, General Petraeus has told me this is what we have to do, and I'm just doing what he says. That's not -- that's not how the American government is supposed to work, and that is not supposed to be the role of the commander in chief.

The role of the commander in chief is to take all of our national security interests into account.