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Obama reacts to continued government shutdown

October 5, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
Julie Pace, White House Correspondent for the Associated Press got an exclusive interview with President Obama on Friday, four days into the partial government shutdown. Pace shared the President's comments on the shutdown and the impending debt ceiling with Hari Sreenivasan.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: You’ve heard about the speaker, now someone who watches the president closely. Julie Pace is White House correspondent for  the Associated Press, she had an exclusive interview with the president yesterday, so Julie, we just heard Janet Hook from the Wall Street Journal say that the relationship between Speaker Boehner and the president is almost non-existent, you sat down with the president yesterday, that seem fairly accurate?

JULIE PACE: Yeah, it’s definitely accurate, these are two men who tried to build a relationship back in 2011, they really found that they either couldn’t trust each other or just didn’t have a lot of overlapping positions and the relationship has actually just gotten worse over time, when you talk to aides to these two men they say that they don’t speak very often, they don’t necessarily not like each other, they just don’t really have anything in common and I think that’s playing out in this debate, you don’t see a lot of invitations for John Boehner to come over to the White House, you don’t see a lot of phone calls being traded between the two men.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Ok, you’ve covered the president since 2008, since before he was president, now in this particular crisis how does he seem to you?

JULIE PACE: One of the things that I was really struck by in the interview that we had with him is just how confident he seems, the White House feels like, in terms of the government shutdown, that they’re really winning the politics of this and the president seemed to really exude this confidence, he was holding firm on his positions, making clear that he was not going to negotiate a way out of this government shutdown that this was up to the House Republicans and what I think is particularly striking is that, just a few weeks ago, this was a president who was really in crisis- I don’t think that’s overstating it, you had his decision on Syria was all over the map, you had the NSA revelations going back earlier in the summer, you had controversies over the IRS that were bubbling up, and that has really now been overshadowed by this kind of debacle in Capitol Hill over the government shutdown and it’s really, I think renewed his confidence going into the end of this year.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Does he think that this will get tied into the conversation about the debt ceiling?

JULIE PACE: So I asked him about this, he says that that shouldn’t happen, that the House should be able to resolve this before we get to the debt ceiling deadline which is about October 17th, I think realistically there is a good chance that that will happen. You hear from some Republicans on Capitol Hill that it may actually be in Speaker Boehner’s favor to let these two deadlines merge, I think that if you caught some White House officials in some private moments they may acknowledge the fact that that is where this is actually headed.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  OK finally I want to briefly ask you about Iran, Israel has gone on the record and said Iran is very close to a nuclear bomb, what’s the president’s assessment?

JULIE PACE: So the president admits that the US is a bit more conservative than Iran in their intelligence assessments when I asked him what the current intelligence assessment is he said that the US believes Iran is a year or more away from being able to build a nuclear weapon. This is something he’s been telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for quite some time, the Israelis are a bit more forward leaning on their time frame and what the president is really trying to do when he lays out this longer time frame is making the case for diplomacy, saying we have a year or more to try to launch this diplomatic effort with a new Iranian president.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Julie Pace from the Associated Press, thanks so much.

JULIE PACE: Thanks for having me.