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Gwen Ifill interviews President Obama on Trump, economic recovery

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Now back to Gwen in Elkhart, Indiana.

    Here’s more from her wide-ranging interview with the president.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Many people, including probably some folks in this room…

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Yes.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    … think the deficits have gone up and the jobless rate has gone up, and, in fact, that their lives have not improved.

    How — in fact, we have the nominee for — the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party saying, Donald Trump, saying America is a Third World nation. How do you persuade or, I suppose, how does your likely Democratic successor, possible, persuade anybody that’s not true?

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Well, it’s important you said my successor, because Michelle would be very upset if she thought I was running again.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Look, you just look at the evidence here in Elkhart, as you mentioned in the introduction. When I took office, this was the first city I came to.

    And unemployment about a month after I took office, a month-and-a-half after I took office, was almost 20 percent. One out of 10 people were behind on their mortgage or in foreclosure. Today, the unemployment rate is around 4 percent. It’s only about one in 30 people who are behind on their mortgage.

    Now, the R.V. industry, which is central to Elkhart, is on track to break records in terms of sales. And so that doesn’t mean that folks aren’t struggling in some circumstances. And one of the things that I have emphasized is that there are some long-term trends in the economy that we have to tackle, in terms of wages not going up as fast as they used to, some big costs, like college costs or health care costs, that are still a challenge, people still worrying about retirement.

    And so we’re going to have to make sure that we make some good decisions going forward. But the notion that somehow America is in decline is just not borne out by the facts.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    But it resonates. It resonates. There are a lot of aggrieved people who are voting in big numbers for Donald Trump.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Well, look, the — I think that what has always been true in American politics is that, when we have gone through a tough time — and we went through the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes. I’m looking around.

    And I think it’s safe to say that it’s been the worst in the lifetimes or memories of most people here. Then you feel nervous.

    People lost homes. People lost savings. People were worried about whether or not they could make ends meet. And so worse — even though we have recovered, people feel like the ground under their feet isn’t quite as solid.

    And in those circumstances, a lot of times, it’s easy for somebody to come up and say, you know what, if we deport all the immigrants and build a wall, or if we cut off trade with China, or if we do X or Y or Z, that there’s some simple answer and, suddenly, everything’s going to feel secure. And…

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Why don’t you mention Donald Trump by name?

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    You know, he seems to do a good job mentioning his own name.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    So, I figure, you know, I will let him do his advertising for him.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Do you consider at all that any of the support for him is backlash against you personally?

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Well, here is one thing I would say.

    And I just spoke about this at the local high school. I think Trump is a more colorful character than some of the other Republican elected officials.

    But a lot of the story that he’s telling is entirely consistent with what folks have been saying about me or the general story they have been telling about the economy for the last seven-and-a-half, the last 10, the last 20, the last 30 years.

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