Transcript from ServiceNation Presidential Forum

Service_nation_2As a credentialed blogger for the ServiceNation Summit, I was on the distribution list for the official transcript of the event which included speeches by Tobey Maguire and New York Governor David Paterson and interviews with Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

For those who want to skim it, I’m posting it in full in the extended entry. You may learn quite a few things about community service, candidates’ views on the military, and Teddy Roosevelt, who was mentioned by three of the speakers (hint: not Spidey).


 PRESIDENT BOLLINGER:

 

(IN PROGRESS) –Governor David Paterson, Columbia
College class of 1977. Governor
Patterson is a recipient of our distinguished John J Award for professional
achievement for his decades of public service as New York’s lieutenant governor
and as a state senator representing upper Manhattan. He is, also, known to many students at the
Columbia School of International and Public Affairs as Professor Paterson for
his six years as an (UNINTEL) faculty member. He has taken on the leadership of our state with his characteristic
decency and determination, his intelligence and extraordinary good humor. Governor Paterson personifies the commitment
to public service that so many in the Columbia community have shared over the
decades. As I welcome all of you, again,
I am proud to introduce to you the governor of the state of New York, David
Paterson. (APPLAUSE)

 

 DAVID
PATERSON:

 

Thank you. I was
standing on the corner of 68th Street and Lexington Avenue right here in
Manhattan once. And I approached a woman
and– very elegant and I asked her to look across the street and tell me if
there was a drug store on the corner. She said, "I’d be delighted," and, then, took me by arm and
led me across the street to the drug store.

 

 

 

She was kind of surprised when I went back and stood on
the corner. And she came back and asked
me why I wasn’t going in the drug store. And I said, "A friend of mine told me that his office is located at
168th Street and Lexington Avenue across the street from the
drugstore." And this woman was
aghast. 

 

 

 

But I thanked her for taking her time out to help me and
told her it doesn’t really matter, I applaud your service. So thank you very much. Some of you know her. Thank very much President Bollinger for that
very kind introduction. I wish you were
president when I was at Columbia.

 

 

 

Maybe I would’ve gotten out sooner. To all those who are national chairs of
service nation, those of you in the public and private sector who have taken
your time and given it to this great cause, I wanna thank you. To Senator Barack Obama, Senator John McCain,
Senator Hilary Clinton, Mayor Michael broom– Bloomberg, Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger and the first lady, Laura Bush among the leaders who will be
speaking tonight, I wanna thank them for taking their time out to be here at
Columbia at this great, great event. 

 

 

 

I am honored to have been invited to have attended the
service nation event. And I wanna
welcome all of you to New York. We are
very pleased to have you hear and want to enhance the service of service nation
in any way we can. The 33rd governor of
the state of New York once said that he felt that the welfare of each of us is
dependant fundamentally on the welfare of all of us.

 

 

 

That was President Teddy Roosevelt. Years later, his fifth cousin another
relatively obscure governor of New York named Franklin offered us that human
kindness does not in any way weaken the stamina or soften the fra– fabric of a
free people. These two men were not
bonded by politics. 

 

 

 

One was republican, the other a democrat. They were bonded slightly by blood. But they are linked inexplicably because of
their service to human dignity. One does
not have to be a president to provide service. It’s just that the Roosevelt’s were two links in a long chain of citizen
service that Americans have demonstrated since 12,000 men offered the call–
answer the call of the res– of the revolution and offered their service
against attacks by the British and would be available within a minute. Years later up to last year, that has been
stretched to the point that 61 million Americans offered eight billion hours of
service in this country.

 

 

 

They would help (APPLAUSE)– they would help struggling
ste– students. They would deliver meals
to seniors. They would help those in poverty
among other tasks. Indeed, 26 permer–
Americans took time out from their deliberations to offer service last year, 23
million more than did so 20 years ago.

 

 

 

Right here in New York, three million people offered 366
million hours of service. And so this is
a call that has been heeded in this country and one we badly need because
unfortunately 3/4 of our society feel that is our country is going the wrong
direction. Perhaps, they feel this way
because just this year 772 million– 772,000 Americans have lost their
jobs. Since last summer, a million
Americans have lost their homes. And so
now is the time for us to step up with our service more than ever. That is why, today, I am elevating the
director of our office for national and community service right here in New
York State, I am elevating that office to a cabinet position in my
administration. (APPLAUSE)

 

 

 

Thank you. Thank
you. I thought you would like that. But, now, we come to a point where service
cannot just be a temporary plan but a lifelong commitment. And we’re going to be needing a president
that believes in this type of service. And we are certainly fortunate in this country that both of the
candidates, major candidates, for president this year have performed
outstanding service to our community from Barack Obama who has viewed personal
opportunity and lucrative offers to work in service organizations in the city
of Chicago, Illinois, to John McCain who almost had to perform the ultimate
service when he found himself lingering on life in a prison of war camp in
North Vietnam during his service to the military of the United States. Both of these men aptly follow in the
footsteps of the Roosevelt’s.

 

 

 

One of them will be called upon by us to lead this
nation. And I hope that they will find a
commitment to service, perhaps, funding the corporation of the National
Community Service and signing legislation that would add service– as part of
our American tradition. (APPLAUSE)
Finally, I would add that today is probably the seventh anniversary of the
greatest collective service this country has ever seen when we were attacked by
terrorists on September 11th, 2001.

 

 

 

And people ran into buildings, firefighters, EMS workers,
police officers and private citizens to rescue people they didn’t know or never
met. When those who survived were asked
about it, they said that they just didn’t think about their ambition. They didn’t think about their families. They didn’t think about their other
obligations. They just knew that they
had to help someone.

 

 

 

Pope Gregory the first, known as Saint Gregory the Great,
always admonished Christians to love their neighbors as they would love
themselves. But he said that there are
moments of epiphany where a person will find a bond with one whom they never
met. Pierre Avalar writing in the 12th
century added to that by saying, "There are moments of feelings of identic
image in which individuals because of an intervening crisis tar– start to see
others as being part of them. And so I’m
hoping that, perhaps, that Christian adage will take on a new meaning in the
21st century as more of us are involved in service as we come closer to that
oneness of the human spirit and we, actually, re-amplify the idea of– of
helping our neighbors as we would help ourselves to helping our neighbors
because they are ourselves. Thank you
very much. (APPLAUSE)

 

 PRESIDENT BOLLINGER:

 

Thank you, governor. Now, for the part that my grandkids are really excited about. Now, most of you know, our next guest as the
web slinging super hero, Spiderman, from his super performances in Spiderman
one, two and three. These movies are
cast with three of the 15 highest grossing films of all time. 

 

 

 

Toby Maguire has appeared in over 20 motion
pictures. He’s renowned for his ability
to deliver stand out performances in both big budget movies as well thought
provoking independents. He will next be
seen in Jim Sheridan’s Brothers, a powerful story of two siblings who are polar
opposites. When a traumatic event
occurs, the brothers take on parts of each other’s characters.

 

 

 

The film is set for release by MGM and it, also, stars Jake
Gilenhal and Natalie Portman. As a
producer, Maguire is currently developing an array of thought provoking
projects through Maguire entertainment. Toby Maguire is deeply committed to service.

 

 

 

He’ll be the first to tell you that he had a rough
childhood. And he’s here today because
of the many volunteers and community programs that helped him through his
troubled times. Now, he wants to give
back. Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome Toby Maguire. (APPLAUSE)

 

 TOBY
MAGUIRE:

 

Thank you. I swear
I did not write that– that– introduction. Anyways, good evening, and thank you all for being here on this historic
night. Today, we remember and honor
those who lost their loves in service and the service of those who helped save
lives in the tragedy seven years ago. Service to our fellow Americans must be the living legacy of September
11th.

 

Our country started with a very simple idea, we the
people. It was that ideal, a belief that
we are all part of something bigger that inspired Jefferson, Madison, Franklin
and others to be the first ones to serve our country. At the time, they were ordinary citizens who
did extraordinary things.

 

 

 

I am honored to be here tonight along with the many
distinguished guests including our presidential candidates to thank many of you
for the extraordinary things you do every day to continue that fine tradition
of service. To be honest, in the hustle
and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to overlook the scores of people like you
who get up every morning with one simple goal, to make our country a better and
safer place for others, to stand up for we the people.

 

 

 

We don’t spend enough time recognizing your work. And we certainly don’t do enough to encourage
others to make the commitment few have made. And that’s why this organization, Service Nation and this forum are so
important. And it’s why I was so eager
to join this nationwide, grassroots movement to take responsibility for our
country’s future through service because while I may play a super hero on the
big screen, we all know who are real American heroes are.

 

 

 

Among them, they are those who go to the fire station at
the crack of dawn, who staff the afterschool centers in the evening, who walk
the beat at night, who put on their military uniforms as they head into harms
way to protect our freedom. They are
from all backgrounds and from all walks of life. And they are living by Booker T Washington’s
credo, if you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.

 

 

 

We are here tonight to recognize all of you, to solute
you for your service and thank you for lifting so many others up. I know that what you do is not always
easy. But it certainly must be rewarding
to know that you are making a difference and doing extraordinary things. As you all know, we are honored to have with
us tonight the next president of the United States. Of course, which of them it is just yet. Both of the candidates have lived lives of
service and both have made a call to service a part of their campaign.

 

 

 

My only election prediction is that we will have record
turnout because there is genuine excitement about this election and these
candidates. And it’s thrilling to see so
many people get involved. But we can’t
go back to cruise control after November.

 

 

 

Loving your country is not just about supporting a
candidate. It’s about serving a cause
that is bigger than you, a cause that is bigger than this election, bigger than
this generation. I remember all too well
my first trip to New York City and to ground zero soon after 9/11 shook our
nation.

 

It’s hard to imagine that was seven years ago. It seems like yesterday that I stood in front
of the wreckage reading the stories on the fences, watching teams of people,
firefighters, police, construction workers and other first responders sifting
through the piles. No matter what they
were told or how tired they got, they refused to give up.

 

 

 

We must never give up this cause for service. Thank you all for being a part of this forum
and for helping lift up the country we love. And in conclusion, I’d like to take a moment to recognize all of the
leaders and service members past and present and future for their extraordinary
work. Let’s give them a round of
applause. (APPLAUSE).

 

 FEMALE VOICE:

 

Thank you, Toby. Thank you for your commitment to service. On September 11th, 2001, the life of every
American changed. And no one was impacted
more than those who lost– lost loved ones in the tragedy. This evening we’ll hear from two 9/11 family
members. Liz Alderman is co-chair of the
Memorial Committee for Families of September 11th and co-founder of the Peter C
Alderman Foundation. The foundation
works for the victims of terrorism and mass violence in post-conflict
countries. 

 

 

 

Jay Winnick is co-founder of My Good Deed created by 9/11
families and friends to honor those killed and injured, to pay to tribute to
those who aided in rescue and recovery and to renew the spirit of unity that
enhanced and embraced our country following 9/11. The organization seeks to transform 9/11 into
a national day of service through online networking and to make a difference
one good deed at a time. Please, join me
in welcoming Liz, followed by Jay Winnick. (APPLAUSE)

 

 LIZ
ALDERMAN:

 

Good evening.  Our
youngest child, Peter, was murdered on September 11th, 2001. He was attending a conference at Windows on
the World at the World Trade Center. He
was 25 years old when he died. We are an
ordinary family. But through hard work
and determination, we have made a difference in the world to honor Peter’s
memory. One billion, one sixth of
humanity have directly experienced torture, terrorism or mass violence.

 

 

 

More than 40 percent are incapacitated by traumatic
depression and PTFC. They can’t work or
care for their families. Children can’t
attend school. Many can’t even leave
their beds. We have dedicated our future
to rebuilding society by returning victims of mass violence to productive
lives. 

 

 

 

Our foundation is on the front lines every single
day. Since 2003, we have trained more
than 100 indigenous doctors and other healthcare professionals from 20
countries including Iraq and Afghanistan. We work on four continents. And
these trained professionals have trained an additional 400 healthcare
workers. Our foundation, also, has
opened six trauma treatment centers in Africa and Asia. By January, 2009, we will have opened two
more. And that is only the
beginning. The foundation has partnered
with the Republic of Uganda to help return 30,000 abducted child soldiers to
school and productive lives.

 

 

 

Also, we have partnered with the government of Rwanda and
partners in health to help people living with HIV AIDS. Recently, we were able to assist 2,700
displaced Kenyan refugees and enable them to return to their homes. To date, more than 75,000 victims have been
treated in foundation run clinics or by foundation trained personnel. (APPLAUSE) The need is everywhere and is growing as war and–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 LIZ
ALDERMAN:

 

–continues to make it’s mark around the world. Make no mistake–

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 LIZ
ALDERMAN:

 

–from PTFD than from HIV AIDS, TB and malaria
combined. The opportunities for
individuals to get involved and make a difference are unlimited. And if you want to learn more about our
organization, you can visit our website at PeterCAldermanFoundation.org. In conclusion, we’re leading a profound and
indelible (?) mark that Peter existed on this earth.

 

 

 

As an Iraqi psychiatrist told me last September 11th
because Peter lived, the world is a better place. Peter would be very proud of the foundation
that bears his name. And if he could see
me standing here tonight, he would think his mom was a hoot. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

 

 JAY
WINNICK:

 

Thank you, Liz. Good evening, my name is Jay Winnick and I’m a 9/11 family member. My brave brother, Glen, died that September
as he had lived, in service to others. A
partner at a large law firm, Glen was, also, a volunteer firefighter and an EMT
for almost 20 years. When the towers
were hit, he raced for a nearby evacuated law office building toward the World
Trade Center to participate in the rescue effort. Glen died when the south tower
collapsed. Un-selfless actions that
morning helped inspire MyGoodDeed.org and organization I co-founded with my
friend David Paine and some other 9/11 family members and friends.

 

 

 

Our goal to establish September 11th as an annually
recognized national day of charitable service. Why September 11th (APPLAUSE)– why September 11th is such a day, well,
flash back to how you felt in the days and weeks after 9/11 and what you would
do, what you would really like in America, never in our history has our
citizenship so spontaneously, so universally and so effectively stepped forward
to pitch in.

 

 

 

No matter where you were in the nation, no matter what
your politics were, your profession, your gender, your religion, your economic
status, your age, you wanted to find a way to help even if just in a small
way. Well, we felt that spirit of
compassion was to valuable to waste. As
a nation, we need to embrace that and put it to good and sustained use. 

 

 

 

And as important, we wanted to make sure that future
generation learn not only about the attack but, also, about how Americans and
the world responded, how good triumphed over evil to rebuild this city and this
nation. And so, now, over the last seven
years, millions of people from all 50 states and more than 150 countries have
participated in my good deed by engaging in charitable service on or around
September 11th.

 

 

 

They register their intentions on our website,
MyGoodDeed.org and then go about helping the next guy in need. Some make donations to a charity of their
choice, clothing, blood, food, eye glasses, books, money, on and on. Some work in schools or soup kitchens. Some send letters to our troops overseas,
help out with the–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 JAY
WINNICK:

 

–or visit the elderly or sick or help rebuild homes
ravaged by disaster or clean up a neighborhood park in disrepair. One former New York Giant, George Martin,
walked across the United States to raise money for sick 9/11 workers. The ways are truly countless and endlessly
creative.

 

 

 

My Good Deed is an amazing grass roots phenomenon. And we think it’s making a real
difference. It’s widely supported by the
U.S. Congress and the White House. And
it’s a great tribute to my heroic brother, Liz’s son, Peter and all those who
perished on that horrific September morning. A few years ago, I spoke at the dedication of stunning firefighters
memorial wall across from ground zero.

 

 

 

I said something that morning that I believe is as true
today. In this city and this nation, we
value courage. We value honor. And we honor those who sacrifice for
others. We are at once compassionate and
resilient. We are principled. We survive adversity and, then, we flourish.

 

 

 

My Good Deed was always meant as a way to pay tribute
but, also, as a way to move forward from tha– those dark days, to help us
flourish, to give something productive and meaningful to do to mark each
anniversary. I hope you agree and that
you’ll take some time to learn more about what we’re doing by visiting
MyGoodDeed.org. My sincere thanks to
those who have organized this terrific summit, to Senators Obama and McCain for
joining all of us this evening and to you for your kind attention. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 MALE
VOICE:

 

First– from the valley of ARF and LISHA Ward of the
target foundation. (APPLAUSE) That
this– truly bipartisan event is occurring at all tonight is– of course, a
tribute to the power of the very idea of national service. But it’s, also, a fitting tribute to the
careers and the character of the two journalists who are about to lead the
discussion with the two men who would seek to lead our country for the next
four years. As a rule and a group,
journalists like thinking of themselves as realists. Some would say cynics. And generally, they are idealist especially
in their own rights.

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Good evening. And
welcome to the Service National Presidential Forum at Columbia University in
New York City. I’m Judy Woodruff with
PBS’s News Hours with Jim Lehrer. Service Nation is a network of groups reaching 100 million Americans,
and working to solve our challenges through national service and civic
engagement. And we are delighted to have
the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees with us tonight for a
conversation on service.

 

 

 

We’d like to thank the presenting sponsors of the event,
AARP, Target, and Time Magazine, as well as the Carnegie Corporation of New
York for their support. (APPLAUSE) Our
co-moderator is Rick Stengel, the editor of Time Magazine whose 2007 cover
story, "The Case for National Service," ignited this movement. And Time’s leadership on the issue continues
this week with a new cover story on national service. Welcome, Rick. (APPLAUSE)

 

 RICK
STENGEL:

 

Today is the seventh anniversary of the tragic events of
9/11. And we chose this day for a
reason. Because we believe it can be a
day not only of national mourning and memory, but a day of national
service. Whether that’s tutoring kids
after school, serving in the military, or volunteering for a faith-based
organization, national service can help us (UNINTEL) national challenges.

 

 

 

Service is not let or live. It’s beyond party and partisanship. John McCain served in the military for 26
years, nearly making the ultimate sacrifice for his country. After college Barack Obama chose to work in
the streets of Chicago to improve the lives of everyday people.

 

 

 

Both of these men that we will hear from tonight are
deeply committed to national service. We
are honored to have them with us together for the first time as their party’s
nominees. The order of their appearance
tonight was chosen by coin toss. I am
very pleased to welcome Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee (APPLAUSE)
for President of the United States.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator McCain.

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator McCain, thank you again for being with us. You were at ground zero today with Senator
Obama. That day, 9/11, is still very
fresh in the minds of people here in New York City and Washington and
Shanksville, Pennsylvania. But there’s
evidence that it’s receding in the memory of many, many Americans. What are one or two of the most important
things that you do– you think should be done to keep this an enduring memory
for America?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, I think commemoration on days like today are very
important. And I must say that– both in
Pennsylvania, and I understand, in Washington, D.C., but I was in Pennsylvania
earlier today, and the– and the ceremonies that went on today I think served
to remind all Americans. But I think the
best way to commemorate and the w– best way to show our appreciation for– and
love and sympathy for their families, for those who have sacrificed, is to–
serve our country.

 

 

 

That’s what this– that’s what this forum is all about,
serving our country. And that way we can
assure their families it’ll never happen again. That way I think we can honor their service and their sacrifice– to our
nation. And remarkable acts of courage
and compassion and love. And– that’s
probably the best way to not only prevent a reoccurrence, but keep their memory
alive by protecting the lives of the– those fellow citizens– who were unable
to experience this firsthand but are in danger.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Senator, as recently as this past Sunday you talked very
openly about the fact that Americans should have been asked to do more than go
shopping or traveling. What would you
have done as president in those circumstances to make people aware of what they
should do as Americans after 9/11?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, first all, I would have a– called them to
serve. I would have created
organizations ranging from neighborhood block watch, to making sure that our
nuclear power plants are secure, to– immediately proposing the Congressional
legislation such as Senator Evan Bayh and I– proposed of service to country to
create additional organizations, to expand Americor, expand the Peace Corps,
expand the military. Obviously we were
facing a new threat.

 

 

 

Obviously we needed to, at that time, take advantage of the
unity in the United States of America. We weren’t Republicans on September 11th. We weren’t Democrats. We were Americans. And I think that if we had asked for a
concrete plan of action, both on the part of federal, state, and local
governments, as well as by the Congress of the United States, as well as,
frankly, talking directly to the American people– yeah, the need for us all
to– to serve this nation. I think
perhaps we–

 

 

 

But, you know, I gotta tell you something, Rick. I– when I travel around this country, that
spirit is still there in America. Today
we’ve seen Americans respond in a way that only Americans do. And I don’t say that with any sense of
superiority over any other group of people. 

 

 

 

But I do believe we’re a unique nation and blessed with
certain inalienable rights that we wanna extend to the rest of the world. But I think that– (NOISE) that we– we
probably still have that opportunity. And when I say this I don’t want you to take it the wrong way. But Americans are so frustrated now with our
government. Eight-four percent of the
American people think the country’s headed in the wrong direction.

 

 

 

The approval rating is– of Congress is down to nine
percent, I believe, down to blood relatives and paid staffers. (LAUGHTER) And– and this is an
opportunity. This is an opportunity to
lead the nation and talk to the American people and reform our government and
ask for more service.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

So– Senator, do you– what are there– what are the obligations
of citizenship other than paying taxes? And should there be in– do you see service connected to what you’re
talking about in Washington? And should
there be something compulsory?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

No, I don’t think so, Judy. I– I– I don’t think– because I think when
you compel someone to do something then you basically are in contradiction to
the fundamental principle of having people wanting to serve, and willing, and
eager to serve. Americans are still
eager to serve. 

 

 

 

Americans– when we look at– all of the programs that
we’ve made available, almost all of them– in fact, I– all of them are
over-subscribed by people who are volunteering. What– what’s the most– probably one of the lead organizations in
America today is Teach for America. We’ll v– vastly (?) thousands more are seeking to be part of that
program, to go in the inner cities of America and teach children.

 

 

 

We’re– we’re doing well in our military
recruitment. Could do better. We gotta do better on retention. But we have to expand the military. So I believe Americans at this point, if
you’re digging for the pony as I clearly am– are ready now to be inspired. To ready– they’re ready to go. They understand the challenges that we have
in this world. They see the– the
Russian invasion of the little country called Georgia. They see the– the problems in Afghanistan
growing larger. They see a whole lotta
things happening in the world that’s gonna require us to serve. And that opportunity has to be provided to
them.

 

 RICH
STENGEL:

 

So I wanna touch on something you said in an earlier
answer. That Americans have a very low
self-regard for Washington right now. How is it though that we can try to inspire people into public service
and even go to Washington at the same time candidates are running against
Washington and dissing Washington at every opportunity?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

‘Cause we have to reform government. We have to reform the way we’re doing
business. Look at Congress’s activities
since they came off their five-week vacations. They never miss a pay raise or a vacation or recess. And the point is that they see this gridlock. They want it reformed. And they want it changed. And they’re ready for change.

 

 

 

And I think they’re ready to turn a page the beginning of
January. I think they are ready to say,
"Okay." And one thing we
politicians crave it’s ap– it’s approval. And I think that if they saw us working together the way that we did for
a period of time after 9/11. Look, we–
we presided over the biggest reorganization of government since– the creation
of the Defense Department in the creation of a Department of Homeland Security.

 

 

 

We did do a lot of things right after 9/11. But it gradually eroded. And now– I think the American people are
ready. They’re ready to rally behind–
frankly– a new page to be turned in America’s history.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator, we have less than a minute in– in this
block. But do you think the length of
your service in Washington gives you a– a unique understanding of the changes
that–

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

I–

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

–need to be made? Help us understand how that is, how–

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, first of all, you know, I wasn’t elected Miss
Congeniality again this year. (APPLAUSE)
And the fact is I fought ’em and fought ’em and fought ’em. And we have achieved some reforms. We– with Russ Feingold we achieved the
landmark Campaign Finance Reform Bill.

 

 

 

We did a number of– and we– we enacted ethics and
lobbying reform that wasn’t nearly enough. I’ve fought against ’em. And
there are allies there. They’re not–
th– d– we’re not all the go along to get along crowd. And I know how it works. And I know how to fix it. And I know where the problems are. And so I– I’m confident we can fix it.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Thank you, Senator. We’ll be right back after this short break. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

(APPLAUSE) Senator, even as we sit here tonight,
Hurricane Ike is bearing down on the Texas coast. What are the lessons that we learned from
Hurricane Katrina where we had the largest voluntary outpouring in American history? And isn’t– aren’t emergencies and disasters
like this exactly why government needs to exist? What is the role of the private sector? And what is the role of government?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

The role of government, obviously, is the primary
role. And to protect our citizens and
help them in times of emergency and distress. But also I think there’s a great role p– for faith-based organizations,
volunteer organizations– and the private sector. I think we’ve got to involved more– businesses
and industries that routinely provide goods and services, rather than rely on
the federal government to do it.

 

 

 

I don’t think, frankly, if– FedEx or Target or– or a
lot of these organizations had been in charge we wouldn’t have had a truck full
of ice ending up in Maine. They know
where everything is. So we need to
have– we need to have that partnership.

 

 

 

But I also wanna point out that faith-based
organizations, as well as other volunteer organizations, did a magnificent
job. There’s a place called the
Resurrection Baptist Church down in New Orleans. Thousands of volunteers from churches all
over the country came and are still working in New Orleans as we speak. So the primary role is government. But we also need to have citizen involvement
in a way which, as Ann– to say the least, we all know you need a better level
of cooperation bestwee (PH)– between federal, state, and local government.

 

 

 

We saw that. We
saw the– a– a dramatic improvement in this last that we had. And our thoughts and prayers go out to the
people of Texas and the area that’s threatened now. And we pray, God, that it’s minimal. And we’re ready to help. That’s the primary responsibility of
government.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator, it’s been pointed out that for– for many people
to– to be able to do volunteer work– they are often people of– of some
means. They can take a leave from their
job. Or they may not need to work. Often volunteer work service is left to those
who are more comfortable. Whereas other
people, especially young people who want to do service, and they graduate
from– from college with a huge education debt. How do you– do you balance that?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, first of all, my experience has not been that the
wealthiest people do the most volunteering. In fact, I think it is average citizens that do the most. In all due respect– to rich people and
(UNINTEL) (LAUGHTER)– but the point– I– it seems to me it’s the average
citizen that’s the first to respond.

 

 

 

But I– but I agree with you. We should– provide– especially from a
business standpoint, if someone graduates from a fine institution or
university, then we hope that the– the people that hire them would give them
s– additional time to maybe go down and volunteer in a Habitat for Humanity or
some other worthwhile cause. But honestly
you know what I found? The busiest
people are the busiest. And the busier
they get, the busier they get. And the
more time they find to help their neighborhood, their community, and their
fellow citizens. So–

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

So there’s no need–

 

 JOHN MCCAIN:

 

–I’m– I’m very pleased a– at the volunteer effort in
America. I’m very pleased at what we’ve
seen– around this country, particularly as we are in difficult times. I think we can be proud of Americans. And obviously if we need to take some steps
to encourage that and make it easier for ’em, I’m all for it.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Would you encourage corporations to give paid leave for
service which some companies are doing like Timberland?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Th– I– if they want to. But I wouldn’t force them to. If
they wanna do that I would praise them. I would– cite them as an example. But I don’t think we can force that kind of thing.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Let’s go to a– a different subject, a subject that’s
close to your heart. In– Faith of My
Fathers you write about how there’s Senator McCain who has fought in pretty
much every American conflict going back 200 years. That’s a huge– legacy that was left on
you. You talk about it being a little
bit intimidating. What I wonder if– if
you talk personally about how that was conveyed to you as a boy? And then how you convey that to your own
children.

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, you know, I– a lot of times I don’t talk too much
publicly because I’m not a hero. I had
the great honor of serving in the company of heroes. And in Hanoi I observed 1,000 acts of courage
and compassion and love. But I’d like to
tell you that one day as a child I said, "Gee, I’m gonna, you know, be in
military service."

 

 

 

But it was just sort of something that– that– was
(UNINTEL) that was part of our tradition. And I rebelled against it. I
(UNINTEL) perhaps in too much detail (LAUGHTER). It– but it– it sort of– it sort of was
something that evolved. But then it was
like a lot of young Americans. A lot of
that glory was– was all about me. And
it wasn’t until I had the experience that I had that I realized that I belong
to my country, and that my country saved me.

 

 

 

And I owed my country a great deal. And that– that change made me appreciate the
fact that it’s not about the individual. It’s about the cause we serve.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator– still on– on the subject of military, in the
wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we know that recruiting has gotten
harder. The qualifications for joining
the Army have been lowered today. Thirty
percent of enlist– new enlistees don’t have high school diplomas. That’s the highest percentage– ever. The percentage of young people who are either
black, Hispanic, or who come from a lower-income household is
disproportionately high in the military. All this while the sons and daughters of privilege, for the most part,
your sons excluded, don’t have to consider military service. We have the greatest freighting army in the
world. I think everyone would
agree. But is there something about this
picture that you think needs to– needs to change? This social imbalance.

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, I would remind you in the days of the draft that it
was then most unfair. Because the lowest
income Americans served, and the wealthiest found ways of avoiding a
draft. I think the all-volunteer force
is having difficulties recruiting and retaining because we’re too small, and we
need to expand the size of our military. And we need to do it as rapidly as possible.

 

 

 

And there are– we’ve got to perhaps or– offer
additional incentives. For a long time,
years ago, the Navy and the Air Force were losing pilots. So we paid them more. And we had more of them stay in. The first reason for serving is patriotism.

 

 

 

But I’ll say you’ve got to offer them incentives– in
order to do so. And frankly– we’re here
in a wonderful institution. I’m proud that
my daughter graduated from this school. But you know that this school will not allow ROTC on this campus? Now I don’t think that’s right. Shouldn’t– shouldn’t the students here be
exposed to– the attractiveness of serving in the military, particularly as an
officer?

 

 

 

So maybe– maybe the– the– I would hope that these
universities (APPLAUSE) would re-examine. I would hope that these universities would re-examine and– that– that
policy of not even allowing people to come here to represent the military, and
other ivy league schools. And– and then
maybe they will be able to attract some more. Now that’s– tha– that’s not the heart of the problem. But I believe that we have the best trained,
most professional, best equipped, bravest military we’ve ever had in our
history today.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

And we’ll come back to this. We’ll be right back after this break. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

(APPLAUSE) Let’s stay on the subject of military. You authorized a– a really interesting
military policy. And it was started out
as a bill that you mentioned that you and Evan Bayh co-sponsored and then you
inserted it in the Defense Appropriations Act that– that blends military and
civilian service– to 18, 24, 18 policy, which I won’t explain. (LAUGHTER) But it’s leading to a larger
question. Why wouldn’t we have
compulsory military service in America that has a civilian component? That if someone wants to opt out of military
service they can do the civilian service, like in your bill. And that it would become a unifying thing
for– for America.

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, Rick, first of all, I– I think that as much as I
treasure our military service, there’s lots of ways to serve our country
too. And I wanna emphasize that. I know we’re talking a lot about the– about
the military. But there are so many ways
to serve this country. And there are so
many ways that are noble an– an– and wonderful, both at home– and abroad. So I wanna make that perfectly clear.

 

 

 

I think that it’s very clear that Americor has been one
of the astonishing successes. Peace
Corps, we’ve seen the success for a long time, because Jack Kennedy, obviously,
originated it. But we have seen these
volunteer organizations succeed. And if
we need to, whether it’s connected to the military or not, provide them with–
with sufficient reward and sufficient recognition– you know, a lot of these
young people are– are more proud of the fact that we recognize them– ones
walking around the red jacket and say, "City Year," than they are
about the money. You know? I mean, that’s– that’s what they’re all
about. So I’d be glad to reward them as
much as possible.

 

 

 

But you wanna be careful that the reason is not the
reward of financial or other reasons, but the reward is the satisfaction of
serving a cause greater than yourself. But th– that’d be fine with me. Finding new ways to serve. That’s
what this next few years should be all about.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator McCain– Senator Obama’s put forward a national
service– plan to– to do some of the things you’ve talked about. The two of you agree. But his has a price tag of around
three-and-a-half billion dollars. Is
that an amount of money you’d be willing to spend? More? Less? I mean, is that in the
ballpark?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

I– I’d– I’d be glad to spend money. I don’t– I don’t think that should be the
first priority in the kinds of benefits that are reaped– from the kind of
thing we’re trying to seek. I haven’t
agreed with all of what Senator Obama has proposed. But– I think there are very good proposals
there. 

 

 

 

Some of them are new. Some of them are obviously not. But I also wanna emphasize there– it doesn’t always have to be run by
the government. That’s why we also ought
to understand that faith-based organizations, other volunteer organizations
that are completely separate from the government, have nothing to do with the
government, are amongst the most successful. So let’s not get– entrapped by the idea that the government has to run
these voluntary organizations and volunteer kinds of– programs. Because a lot of times the job can be done
better with our encouragement.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

So you’re not in favor nec– necessarily of a– of a– a
distinct government role?

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Oh, we have distinct government role. The Peace Corps, Americor, all of these other
organizations. But I wanna be careful
about expanding it when my philosophy is let’s not have government do things
that the private sector can do. Or other
organizations can do. That’s just my
theory of government.

 

 

 

So look, I– I applaud Senator Obama’s commitment to
national service. And he makes a very
strong case. And I– I look forward to
joining him no matter what happens in November. This is– this is a cause a lot bigger than anything to do with
partisanship.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Actually, speaking of that, I was gonna ask an internet
question. We’ll get back to that. Governor Schwarzenegger in California has
made service the service czar in California a cabinet-level appointment. If you were president would you do the same
and make service a cabinet-level appointment? And would you perhaps ask Senator Obama to be the member of your cabinet
for national (UNINTEL)? (LAUGHTER)

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Yes. (APPLAUSE)
Right now, as you know, there’s an office in the White House, Freedom Core
Office. That– that core office
coordinates all these different organizations which, rightly or wrongly, fall
many times under different departments. I
think if you had that person right down the hall from the Oval Office and
you’re working with that person on a daily basis that’s probably the most
effective way to do it.

 

 

 

You know, every time we see a problem we sort of,
"Let’s create another cabinet post." Now we’ve got so many members of the cabinet that the (UNINTEL) cabinet
never meets, as you well know. So– I’d
rather see a powerful, influential, outstanding person sitting in that office
who I could literally deal with every day.

 

  JUDY WOODRUFF:

 

Senator, at the Republican convention a couple of
speakers, most notably your running mate, vice presidential nominee, Sarah
Palin, made somewhat derisive comments about– Senator Obama’s experience as a
community organizer. I’ve heard you say
you haven’t taken that (UNINTEL). So I
guess my question is– are you saying to others in your campaign and your
supporters that that’s not the kind of language you wanna hear? How– how do you– how are you approaching
that?

 

 JOHN MCCAIN:

 

First of all, it’s a tough business. Second of all, I– I think the tone of this–
of this whole campaign would have been very different if Senator Obama had
accepted my request for us to appear in town hall meetings all over America,
the same way Jack Kennedy and Barry Goldwater had agreed to do so. I know that. Because I’ve been in enough campaigns. Look– Governor Palin was responding to the criticism of her
inexperience and her job as a mayor in a small town. That’s what she was responding to. Of course, I respect community
organizers. Of course, I respect people
who serve their community. And– Senator
Obama’s record there is outstanding. And
so I– I– I– praise anyone who serves this nation in capacities that frankly
we all know that could have been far more financially rewarding to individuals
rather than doing what they did.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Less significant than the work of a small town mayor?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

I think a– a small town mayor– I– or– has very great
responsibilities. Have responsibility
for the budget. They have hiring and
firing of people. They have great
responsibilities. They have to stand for
election. I– I admire mayors. (LAUGHS) I– I’m– listen, mayors have the
toughest job that I think in America. It’s easy for me to go to Washington and– and, frankly– be somewhat
divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have. So I admire mayors. I– I ad– admire anyone who is willing to
serve their community and their country. And that’s what this is all about. 

 

 

 

And this is what today’s all about. And we should set aside this partisanship at
least for this day. Praise one another
for our dedication to this country. That’s what I (UNINTEL). (APPLAUSE)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

We have less than a minute left in this segment. And there’s a specific question about setting
aside partisanship. Senator Kennedy and
Senator Hatch, two old friends in the Senate, have sponsored a bipartisan bill
on national service that I think, among other things, would triple the size of
Americor and really put a lot of the strength of the federal government behind
national service. As president, would you
sign that bill?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Yes. But I wanna–
(APPLAUSE) our prayers are always with Ted Kennedy. I understand he’s coming back in
January. I greet that with mixed emotions. I love him. I– I– I’m so happy, seriously, that– that– Senator Kennedy is on the
road to recovery. He’s a– he’s a lion
of the Senate.

 

 

 

Look, I– I would sign that– that legislation. But I also wanna caution again. Government can’t do it all. The essence of volunteerism starts at the
grassroots level. Does not start
necessarily at the– the federal government level. So let’s make sure we maintain the balance
between federal involvement and encourage more volunteerism in service to the
nation. But also let’s not in any way
stifle what already is going on. And
it’s very, very successful in America. And that’s organizations that have no dependence whatsoever on our
federal government and do such a great job for all of our citizens.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

All right, Senator, we are gonna take another break. We’ll be right back. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator McCain, there’s so much emphasis, of course,
today on the younger generation giving. What about baby boomers and older– folks? What should we be doing for this (UNINTEL)?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Well, I– I think there are– there are obviously
organizations that– that– we have place– for ability to serve. But we ought to really probably do a more and
more effective job of utilizing the talents and experience of people who have
had very successful lives and careers and continue to motivate them to
serve. I think that’s part of the
proposals that have been made.

 

 

 

And we do have a Senior Corps and other
organizations. But– fact is that people
are living longer. And they’re more
active and vigorous. And I’m here to
tell you that’s a fact. And– (LAUGHTER)
and– (NOISE) and– and– (APPLAUSE) and so I– Judy, I really believe that–
that it’s one of the under-utilized aspects of– of community service in
America. And– I think that would be one
of the areas of emphasis really.

 

  JUDY WOODRUFF:

 

If– if– if I could just quickly follow-up. I asked partly because we got a number of
online questions. And–

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Sure.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

–a– a woman named Giselle from Brooklyn, New York, she
says, "But the staggering economy, how can people commit time to community
service and still make ends meet?" I know you said earlier people of all income brackets.

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Right, right.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

But what about those people who really do have to work–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Our– our– our economy is broken. People are sitting around, not worrying about
volunteering, but staying in their homes, keeping their job– af– affording–
a ga– fill up their gas tank. We know
that. Americans are hurting very
badly. We gotta reform government. We gotta fix the economy.

 

 

 

We gotta create jobs. But right now we have to restore trust and confidence in
government. If people don’t trust the
government, then they’re not gonna be as eager and willing to, frankly, be part
of these programs that we are proposing. And that we are hoping that people will volunteer and serve in. So obviously we have to fix our economy and
get it going again and create jobs for Americans. But– the– the– I think– honestly that
there are also Americans who are willing– to volunteer their services no
matter what. But when people have a– a
reasonable income and reasonable future, obviously, they’re gonna volunteer
more.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Let’s talk about some folks who don’t trust us. And that’s a lot of countries overseas. You’ve talked about expanding the Peace
Corps. You’ve also said, "We
shouldn’t be sending money to countries that don’t like us." But should we be sending people, sending
members of the Peace Corps, to countries that don’t like us to help our esteem
in the world, which, of course, has suffered since 9/11?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

Yes. And that’s
the best– the best thing we can do (APPLAUSE) is expose the people in these
countries to things we value, the things we stand for, the things we believe
in. And there’s no repres– better
representative of all that than Americans. But also I wanna add, let’s also have more people come here and be
educated and trained and be exposed to the United States of America. We have found throughout the world people
that come and get educated here and return to the countries they came from as
leaders, it’s amazing. And it
establishes a base relationship that I think can also– change the policies in
a number of these countries that don’t like us very much.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Would you give a green card to everybody– every foreign
national who graduates with a PhD in the sciences to stay in America?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

I– I certainly would d– do everything I can to keep
those people in this country. I don’t
know if it would be an automatic green card. But I guarantee you that– we’d love to have so many of these
highly-trained people stay in this country. And ask any corporate executive in America, particularly those in the
information technology business.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator, I want to come back to something you said
earlier. I think you used the word
exceptional and unique about being an American. On this 9/11, this– this special day– what– help us understand what
you think it means to be an American. And I– and I don’t mean that in the– in the obvious way.

 

 

 

I mean, people who live in Canada, who live in Mexico,
any– around the world feels special about their country. So what is it that’s different about being an
American? Are Americans better than
people in some of these other countries? We hear the term "exceptionalism" about–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

I do believe in American exceptionalism. And I think it was best articulated by our
founding fathers. But I also think that
my hero, Teddy Roosevelt– expressed it very well. And I– other leaders throughout our
history. We are the only nation I know
in the world that really is deeply concerned about– adhering to the principle
that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creators with certain
rights. And those we have tried to bring
to the world.

 

 

 

And we have t– not so much militarily. But through example, through leadership,
through economic assistance. Look at
what we did for Europe after World War Two. Look at the continuous efforts we make throughout the world. Look at the comb– the efforts we’re making
to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.

 

 

 

There’s a lot more America can do. But– and I love these other countries. And I’m not trying to denigrate them. But I know of no other country in the world
with the generosity of spirit and the concern for fellow human beings than the
United States of America. I think that
goes back to our very beginnings.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Does that make America better than these other–

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

I think it makes us exceptional. I think it makes us exceptional in the kind
of– of citizenry we have and the kind of service and sacrifice that we are–
we are capable of. And I mean that in no
disrespect to any other nation. Our
close and unique relationship with the British, I have– I’m not trying to in
any way denigrate any other nation.

 

 

 

But it doesn’t in any way diminish my pride in the s–
the history of this nation which has literally shed our blood in all four
corners of the earth, many times in defense of someone else’s freedom. And have tried to further the principles of
freedom and democracy everywhere in the world. I think we’re dedicated to that proposition. And frankly, I think we’ve done a pretty good
job.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Now let’s talk about the framers for a second. Because one of the things that they distrusted
and disliked, they called it faction, which they meant political parties. The framers didn’t want to have political
parties. George Washington hated the
idea of political parties. 

 

 

 

But now, in the midst of the campaign between two
parties, and the tone of the campaign has gotten pretty ugly, you’ve talked
from the beginning about running a different kind of campaign. So has Senator Obama. You’ve both talked about a high-minded
campaign. What does this do to people
who are interested in public service? I
mean, all– there are lots of people who think, "Man, I– I’m not– I
can’t run for office when– when this kind of thing is happening." 

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

I–

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

What does that do to the– if we’re here for service,
then what does that campaign tell us about that?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

First of all– I– I– I have said repeatedly I think
Senator Obama has inspired millions of Americans who otherwise wouldn’t have
been involved in the political process. That’s just a fact. And– I
believe that my record of service and my vision for the future has attracted
people. 

 

 

 

I think you’re gonna see the biggest voter turnout in
history in this election. Has it been
rough? Of course. And again, it isn’t– it isn’t the final
recipe or the only answer. But I think
Americans would be helped enormously if we stood in this stage together tonight
and talked about national service. All
four of us. Rather than three and one
going on. And– and then the other. And again, I hope that Senator Obama will
accept my request. Let’s go around
America. Let’s listen to hopes and
dreams and aspirations of the American people and respond to them. I think that’s the best and most effective
way of getting everybody involved in this campaign.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Do you think it’s naïve of people to– to expect that
politics could be a little less rough?

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

–even nasty?

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

The– the people make the final judgment with their
votes. They– they make the final
judgment about campaigns and how we present ourselves to the American
people. And I think that that will be–
the ultimate test of what kind of campaigns do we run. I, again, think that it’s very important that
we focus on issues, we fosi– focus on challenges that America faces today,
both domestically and national security-wise. And I intend to do that. And
there’s 54 more days. But who’s
counting? (LAUGHTER)

 

  RICHARD STENGEL:

 

By– 2042 the United States of America will no longer be
a majority white nation. Robert Putnam,
the sociologist, who’s written about how in communities that are diverse
there’s actually less social capital, less trust. What can national service do to knit up
America? And I’m sorry, we only have one
minute left for such a complex question.

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

National service can do a great deal. National service can unite us, just as the
military unite us as we– we people from– and I– h– in– interface with
people from all over the world. But also
let me say, look. The greatest thing
that makes America exceptional is we have had wave after wave of people come to
this country for the same reason.

 

 

 

They wanted to build a better life. They wanted freedom. And they want to be part of America. So I don’t accept that premise of somehow–
some of the most patriotic Americans I’ve ever seen, and the hardest working
and the most ready to serve this country and go in harm’s way are those who
just came here. 

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 JOHN
MCCAIN:

 

–forget being at a ceremony in Baghdad last Fourth of
July where 160-some people who are green card holders s– got the– their
citizenship. And they had been willing
to serve in the military for an accelerated path to citizenship. That’s how much they wanted to be part of
this country. That was an exhilarating
experience.

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator John McCain, thank you very, very much. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

As we thank– as we thank Senator McCain very much for
his participation, we want to welcome now the Democratic nominee for President
of the United States, Senator Barack Obama. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

We’ll be right back after a short break. 

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Senator Obama, welcome again. You have had some affiliation here. That’s–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

–home court advantage here. This is my alma mater. And– I wanna thank– (APPLAUSE) I– I was
saying, though, that the neighborhood’s changed. When I came here in 1980– some of the
apartments around here didn’t look quite like what they look like now. And I– I could afford them. I don’t think I can now. (LAUGHTER) Yeah. 

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Faculty housing is–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Today is 9/11. You
were down at Ground Zero with Senator McCain. And we’re gonna ask a lot of the same– similar questions that we asked
to Senator McCain. And– and the first
one we asked was what– what does 9/11 mean to you? What’s the significance of it? Where were you when the happened, for
example? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, I– I was in Chicago. I– I was in the state legislature at the
time. I still remember driving down–
Lake Shore Drive on my way to a committee hearing– downtown and hearing the
initial report. And it was still
confused then whether it was an accident, what had happened. By the time I got downtown, we started
evacuating the buildings. And then we
all watched in horror on television. And
it, like I think for most people, it is indelible. 

 

 

 

And it is a reminder not only of the terrible potential
for evil in the world, but it’s also a reminder of what America does at the toughest
times, which is to come together. Now,
when I think of 9/11, I think of that spirit after the– the tragedy had
occurred, how the outpouring of patriotism, emotion, volunteerism, the desire
for service– was– in the minds of everyone. 

 

 

 

And that was also a moment when the petty bickering and
partisanship that comes to characterize our public life– was set aside. And so the– the question was how do we
recreate that spirit not just during times of tragedy– not just during 9/11–
but how do we honor those who died, those who sacrificed, the fire fighters,
the police officers, how do we honor them every day? How does it reflect itself in our
government? How does it reflect itself
in how we conduct our own civic life? 

 

 

 

And– you know, my sense is that the country yearns for
that. It’s hungry for it. And what has been missing is– a– a– a
President and a White House that taps into that yearning in a serious way. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Well, Senator McCain actually agreed with that a few
minutes ago. He said that if he had been
President, he would have used that opportunity– to ask the country to serve,
to ask people to serve. What’s different
about what you’re saying?

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, I’m not sure– there is anything different. I– what I know is that– had I been
President at the time, and I– I have to say– the President did rally the
nation– in his speech at Ground Zero and subsequently. We– went after those who had attacked us
appropriately. But rather than tell the
American people to shop, what I would have done– is to say now is the time for
us to meet some great challenges. 

 

 

 

We’ve been tested. And yet we have survived. And we
are gonna be stronger than we were. And
the way we’re gonna be stronger than we were is to tap into the feeling that
everybody– has been caught up in. We’re
gonna have a bold energy plan that says that we are going to reduce our
dependence on foreign oil (SCREAM) by 20 or 30 percent over the course of a– a
decade or two. 

 

 

 

We are going to– ask all citizens to participate in that
process, not just government, but each and every one of us are gonna have– are
gonna make commitments in terms of increasing fuel efficiency in our cars, in
our homes. And the government is gonna
be in partnership with citizens to make that happen. We are going to tap into this desire when it
comes to first responders. 

 

 

 

You know, one of the striking things you– as you travel
around the country is the number of small towns– and medium-sized towns that
rely exclusively on volunteer fire fighters. And think about what we could have done all across the country as part
of a homeland security initiative– to organize groups around the country that
could serve in those common ways. 

 

 

 

And I would have asked very explicitly for young people
to engage in community service and military service. I was listening earlier of the discussion
about who serves in our military. And I
think that had the President very clearly said this is not just going to be–
a– a war of a few of us, this is going to be an effort that mobilizes all of
us– I think we would have had a– a different result. 

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

What are– Senator Obama, the obligations of citizenship
in a democracy? Basically in America now
people vote, only about half of them, and they pay their taxes. And that’s about where the bar is. What would you ask the people in what you
call I believe active citizenship? How
is that different than what we see now? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

America is the greatest country on earth. But it didn’t just happen on its own. It’s not– a gift only, although it is a
great blessing that we’ve received. It
is also a responsibility. And part of
what makes America work is the fact that we believe in individual
responsibility and self-reliance, but we also believe in mutual responsibility,
in neighborliness, in a sense– that we are– we are committed to something
larger than ourselves. Now, that can
express itself in a whole range of ways. But, you know, what has built this country is people sense through
voluntary associations but also through public service and government that we
have commitments that extend beyond our immediate self-interest, that aren’t
always motivated by profit, that aren’t simply short term, that we’re thinking
long term to the next generation. 

 

 

 

And every bit of progress that we’ve made– historically
is because of that kind of active citizenship. And as President, what I wanna do is restore that sense of common,
mutual responsibility– and– and I think the American people are ready for
it. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

But give– give us some examples, specific examples of
how you would do that because people listening will say, "Well, it all
sounds well and good, but how would you do so?"

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well– let– let’s talk very specifically about–

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

And we just have a minute left. 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Okay. Well, it’ll
carry over. (LAUGHTER) But I– I put
forward a very specific national service plan. And I’m glad to see– that my dear friend– Senator Kennedy as well as–
a fine senator, Senator Hatch, have come together and taken many of the similar
elements. They’re gonna be introducing
it tomorrow. 

 

 

 

One way of making sure that we encourage this kind of
citizenship is to start early, to make sure that our young people in high
school have– community service opportunities, making sure that our university
students, in exchange for making college affordable, are giving something back,
that they’re working (APPLAUSE) in under-served communities–

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

I’ve got all kinds of other stuff, Judy, but I’ll– I’ll
wait till after the break. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

We are gonna take a break. Thank you for announcing that, and we’ll be
right back. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

  RICHARD STENGEL:

 

You– you do indeed have a comprehensive national
service–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

–plan, and it’s mentioned in our magazine this week on
national service. But here’s my
question. Bill Clinton also had a very
comprehensive national service plan. And
he had to tailor a lot of what he had proposed with AmeriCorps and other
policies because of the unions, because of teachers’ unions, because of public
unions. How– wouldn’t you have to kind
of cut back the scale of some of what you have done? Or have you done that already to make sure
that the unions will go for it? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

I don’t think so. I– look, the spirit of unions is coming together because we are stronger
together than we are individually. That– that’s the– the idea behind– the union movement. And I think the– the times have changed
since 1992. I think that people
recognize, for example, that we can’t continue– a education system that fails
so many of our young people. 

 

 

 

And we need a (UNINTEL PHRASE). (APPLAUSE) And I think not only teachers’
unions but teachers themselves recognize that if they’re all volunteers, if
we’ve got retirees– who are scientists and mathematicians who are willing to
come in the classroom and provide– additional help to young people and inspire
them– into different careers, I think that they’re gonna welcome it. 

 

 

 

So– look, it– do I expect that my national service plan
gets passed exactly as I’ve proposed? Of
course not. That’s not– the way–
legislation works. But– I believe we
are in one of those special moments, one of those defining moments where the
American people recognize that we are not on the right track, that our
government is not working the way it should, that our economy is not working
the way it should. 

 

 

 

And they expect leadership from Washington, but they
understand that they have to be a part of the solution as well. And I think that’s why we have to seize this
moment. And the next President is gonna
have to actively–

 

 OPERATOR:

 

Has joined the conference. 

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

–these issues of service. 

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

When we asked– Gov– Senator McCain some of these
questions, he said– several times he said there is a government role in all of
this–

 

 OPERATOR:

 

Has left the conference. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

–but he said we should be careful about how much we
scale up and increase the role of government. I wanna come back to something–

 

 OPERATOR:

 

Has left the conference. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

–we– we raised with him. And that is that there’s young people who are
interested in the Peace Corps, Teach for America. Not all of them can afford, frankly, to come
out of school and take a very low-paying job no matter how much they wanna
serve. What would be the responsibility
of the government and others to– to make it easier for them? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, first of all, I think gov– Senator McCain is right
that– income does not determine whether or not people serve. You can go into small rural towns and people
are really scraping by and yet they are helping each other– in all sorts of
ways. And– but what I agree is that
the– the choices that we provide young people right now are too constrained. You– you know, when I graduated from
Columbia, I had a choice. 

 

 

 

I could pursue a lucrative career of– on Wall Street or
go immediate to law school. Or– I
could– follow through on the inspiration that I had drawn from the civil
rights movement– and from the Kennedy era and try to work in the
community. And I chose the latter. But it was tough. I– I made $12,000 a year– plus car expenses
in Chicago working with churches– to set up job training programs for the
unemployed and after-school programs for youth, trying to make the community
better. 

 

 

 

It was the best education I ever had. But, ironically, it was harder for me to find
that job than it was for me to find a job on Wall Street. And I think there are a lot of young people
out there who are interested in making that same choice. And we should be encouraging them. The government’s gonna have a role. Look, young people can’t afford college right
now. 

 

 

 

And that– one of my central platforms in this campaign
is we’re gonna provide a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year. But in exchange for giving something
back. And so– peop– young people of
modest means who are interested in going to college, this gives them an
opportunity to serve and, at the same time, pay for their college
education. I think there are a lot of
creative ways where we can provide more opportunities than exist right
now. 

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Now, the– the role of government is something we talked
a little bit about with Senator McCain. Republicans have traditionally said– and I’m thinking, for example, of
Newt Gingrich who I know is not one of your advisors– but said that–
(LAUGHTER) that the problem with big government is that it gets in the way of
private initiative. And as government
grew over generations that, in fact, it repressed public service and it
repressed national service because there was no room for it anymore. Some– some Republicans worry, well, he’s
gonna make such a big government that won’t even le– leave room for private
initiative. 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, look, the– the– I– I think– those are old
arguments. Let– let’s look to the
future. The fact is that we have to have
government. When– a hurricane strikes,
as it did– with Katrina– we have to have a FEMA that works, which by the way
means that we should be encouraging young people, the best and the brightest,
to get involved as civil servants, to pursue careers of public service, so
we’ve got people who are trained in fe– federal emergency management who are
able to take on the job. 

 

 

 

Now, that does not crowd out the Red Cross. That doesn’t crowd out the thousands of
church groups that’s went down there. What it means is, is that each– area has a role to play. The Peace Corps– does not crowd out
opportunities for– service overseas. 

 

 

 

You’ve got churches– and synagogues and mosques all
across the country that are per– deeply involved in– efforts to deal with
HIV/AIDS and malaria and– all sorts of public health issues. And yet this is a matter where George Bush I
think appropriately said we’re gonna make a commitment as the wealthiest nation
on earth to deal with the devastation of AIDS. 

 

 

 

And his PETFAR (?) program has been highly successful
working with not-for-profits, working with governments, working both public and
private in order to solve a problem. So
there are more than enough problems out there to deal with. And it– what is true is we– we don’t need
to set up bureaucracies. So I would– I
would distinguish between a government assist in providing people avenues for
service and a government bureaucracy in which the notion is, is that the only
way that you can serve is through some defined government program. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

And I– I do wanna pick on that– pick up on that just
briefly because, as we said earlier, tonight is not a night to focus on
contrasts between you and Senator McCain. But help us understand how you see the role of government in all of this
differently from the way he does. 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, you know, I– listening to his presentation, it
sounds like– he’s interested in the AmeriCorps program and Peace Corps. I think it is terrific that we can garner
some bipartisan support. That was not
always the case. I believe firmly that
government should expand avenues of opportunity. I wanna create a– a Energy Corps, a clean
energy corps that– that can– mobilize individual citizens to help create
greater energy efficiency in our country. 

 

 

 

I wanna mobilize seniors to get involved– with their
schools or their– local hospital or health clinic. So there are gonna be a whole range of ways
that we can do it. Some of that’s gonna
cost money. But mostly it requires
government providing these opportunities and these avenues and a President who
is in– who is willing to inspire people to get in both and get outside of
themselves. That’s something we’re doing
in this campaign. And that’s something I
think I can do as President. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator Obama, we’ll be right back after this break. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator Obama, one of the, of course, enormous
consequences of– of 9/11 were the wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq. In the wake of those wars, today the United
States military is facing enormous challenges. Junior officers are leaving the Army– in record numbers. The recent graduates of West Point leaving–
the Army. What would you do as President
to make serving and staying in the military more attractive to young men and
women? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, first of all, I– as commander-in-chief– my job is
to– to keep America safe. And that
means ensuring that we’ve got the best military on earth. And that means having the best– persons in
uniform on earth. We have that right
now. But as a consequence of these
wars– they have been strained incredibly. I think it’s important for us to increase the size of our Army and our
Marines so that we can– reduce the pace of tours with– that our young men and
women are on. 

 

 

 

I think it’s important for us to work towards increasing
military pay. I think the passage of the
GI Bill was extraordinarily important– as a message to our– men and women in
uniform that when you serve our country, we will stand by you. I– you know, I think about my grandfather
who served in Patton’s Army in World War II. He joined after Pearl Harbor.

 

 

 

And you– you know, we’re– we were talking off– off
camera about where did I get this sense of service. I– you know, I think about my grandfather’s
generation. My grandfather– after Pearl
Harbor, joined– the military. My
grandmother, who had just had a baby at Fort Leavenworth, stayed back and
worked on a bomber assembly line. 

 

 

 

There was a total mobilization. And when my grandfather came back, he came
back to a GI Bill that was gonna pay for his college education and FHA loans
that would help them– purchase a home. There was that sense of sacred obligation that, frankly, we have lost–
during– these last two wars. I wanna
restore that. But it’s also important–
that a– a President speaks to– military service as an obligation not just of
some but of many. 

 

 

 

You know, I– I travel obviously a lot over the last 19
months. And if you go to small towns–
throughout the Midwest or the Southwest– or the South, every town has tons of
young people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s not always the case– in other parts
of the country in more urban centers. And I think it’s important for the President to say– this is– an
important obligation. If we are going
into war then all of us go, not just some. 

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Well, to that end, to get the best and brightest into the
military, this university, your alma mater, invited President Ahmadinejad of
Iran to be here last year. But they
haven’t invited ROTC to be on campus since 1969. 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Right. 

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Should Columbia and elite universities that have excluded
ROTC invite them back on campus? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Yes. I– I think–
(APPLAUSE) we’ve made a mistake on that. I– I– I recognize that there are students here who have differences in
terms of military policy. But the notion
that– young people here at Columbia or anywhere in any university– aren’t
offered the choice, the option of participating in military service I think is
a mistake. 

 

 

 

That does not– mean that we disregard any potential
differences in– you know, various issues that are raised by– students
here. But it does mean that– that we
should have an honest debate while still offering opportunities for everybody
to serve. And that’s something that I–
I’m pretty clear about. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

You’re saying– you were saying a moment ago that you
think that there should be more young people–

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Yeah. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

–serving in the military. We need a broader demographic
cross-section. How do you do that short
of a draft? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well– again, I think that inspiring young people to
serve is something that the President is uniquely positioned to do. Now, it doesn’t always have to be– service
in uniform. One of the things that if
you talk to our generals, they are desperate for is a civilian– counterpart to
our military forces. Our military is the
best in the world. But they are asked to
do so many different things because our civilian operations, our State
Department, USAID, have been underfunded, have been atrophied. And for us to say, "Serve in the
military, but if that’s not where you want to serve, you know, learn a foreign
language and– and go into the Foreign Service." And, by the way, we will deploy you in some
difficult areas. But that’s part of what
it means to be an American and to serve and to sacrifice. 

 

 

 

We need agricultural specialists in places will
Afghanistan. We need– you know, civil
engineers– that can– do some of the work that currently our military officers
are doing. And so I– I think a President
who is consistently asking for young people to reach for something higher,
something bigger than themselves I think will get an enormous response.

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

We have only a couple of minutes left in this
segment. You mentioned last week on–
George Stephanopoulos’s show that you’d actually considered signing up for the
military yourself. And you seemed to
imply that if there was a war going on, you might have been more inclined. Is there– is there anything more important
about serving in the military during wartime than peacetime? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, there– there’s no doubt that if there are wars
going on and some are being asked to sacrifice their lives then I think you
have to ask yourself why them instead of you? And so I think there are special obligations– during wartime. But, look, we need military– we– we always
have potential conflicts around the world. And our military has to main– remain strong and ready. And so I– I wanna encourage military service
as well as other ways of serving– regardless of whether there’s war or
not. 

 

 

 

But I do think that– over the last several years, the
fact that the burden has been shouldered by such a narrow group– is a
problem. And– how we treat those young
people, by the way, when they come home continues to be a problem. One of my components in– in terms of
national service is having a veterans corps where we are mobilizing citizens to
pair up and provide support to our veterans who are coming home, making sure
they have the resources, making sure employers are reaching out to them, giving
them opportunity– to transition into civilian life much more effectively than
they’re getting right now. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Brief question (APPLAUSE) because I think we just have a
minute. This is from an online question
from Gina in Bloomfield, Michigan. She
goes, "How possible would it be to get military style benefits to
non-military citizens who do national service work full time?"

 

  SEN. BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, I– you know, I think it– it depends on– the kind
of service that’s being provided. As I
said, if– if we are building the kind of– foreign service and– that– that
is expeditionary, that is going into very difficult, dangerous areas– to carry
out the civilian side of the work of helping a country like Afghanistan
rebuild– then we should think about what are the benefits of that
service. 

 

 

 

Oftentimes, those people are putting themselves in great
harm. They are being deployed and– are
undergoing– their families are undergoing similar sacrifices to the sacrifices
that those who are serving in the military are. You know, I– but I– I do think that we have a special obligation for
those who have put their lives at risk– who are risking life and limb on
behalf of the security of America. 

 

 

 

That does not meant that we can’t provide other avenues
of service. For example, I’ve said we–
we desperately need teachers, math and science teachers in particular. And so for us to provide full scholarships
for those who are willing to– get their teaching certificate, get– educated
in these fields, and then be placed in some of the most underserved
communities– in the country, that’s something that we should be willing to pay
for– so that people who want to serve anyway at least can afford it. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

We’ll be right back with our last segment. (APPLAUSE)

 

 (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator Obama, this– question of whether or not national
service would be elevated a Cabinet-level position, among other things Senator
McCain said that if it were that, he would ask you to be his (LAUGHTER)
(UNINTEL) secretary. Would you ask him
if you were elected President to run the national service–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, I mean, if this– if this is the deal he wants to
make right now, I– (LAUGHTER) I am committed to appoint him– to be my Cabinet
national service. But–

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Would you be willing to serve in his Cabinet? 

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

(LAUGHTER) I– I– we’ve got a little more to do before
we get to that point. Senator McCain’s–
service is legendary. And– one of the
wonderful things about this campaign I think is his ability to share that
story– and him– himself inspire a– a whole new generation of young people–
to model what he– did for this country. And– and so I think that– one of the primary objectives of my
presidency would be to lift up the opportunities for service in a bipartisan
fashion so that we take it out of politics. 

 

 

 

I– just have briefly, I wanna give an example. There’s a young man in Montana that I met
named Matt Kuntz (PH), had been an infant– infantry officer in the Army– was
injured– was honorably discharged, got a law degree, and was working in corporate
law. His half-brother served in the
National Guard in Iraq, came back with post traumatic stress disorder, was
unable to get the counseling he needed, and ended up committing suicide. 

 

 

 

And Matt, having watched this painful process and trying
to intervene, decided to quit his corporate law job– and decided that he was
gonna take it upon himself to create a advocacy group in Montana just around
post traumatic stress disorder for veterans. And now Montana has the best post traumatic– stress disorder treatment
programs– for National Guardsmen. 

 

 

 

And Matt has continued now in the not-for-prof– profit
sector. I make this point because I
never asked Matt whether he was Democrat or Republican. I never asked Matt whether he was liberal or
conservative. What I knew was that he
had seen a wrong and was inspired to take action. And that kind of message I think is what has
to be communicated each and every day by our President, by our political
culture. And that’s one of the reasons
I’m running for President. (APPLAUSE)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

We– (UNINTEL PHRASE) question about Governor Palin’s
belittling being a community organizer. Did the Democrats in return belittle being a small-town mayor? Was she– she being unfair? Or was it hypocritical because Republicans
actually say, "Hey– what people do in their private life is more
important than public service"?

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, listen, we– we’ve had an awful lot of small-town
mayors at the Democratic– Convention, I assure you. I– I meet them all the time. And I have– the mayors have some of the
toughest jobs in the country because that’s where the rubber hits the road. You know, we yak in the Senate. They actually have to fill potholes and–
trim trees and– and– make sure the garbage is– is– taken away. So– I was surprised by– the several remarks
around community organizing and– and belittling it. 

 

 

 

You know, when I think about the choice I made as a 23,
24 year old to spend three years working with churches to help people help
themselves– no insult to the president of this fine institution, but it was
best education I ever had (LAUGHTER) because it taught me that ordinary people
can do extraordinary things when they’re given a chance and when they’re
brought together. And that’s something I
wanna encourage for every young person. I want every young person around this country to recognize they will not
fulfill their full potential until they hitch their wagon to something
bigger. 

 

 

 

Now, that’s not to say that we– we need talent in the
private sector. We want talent in the
private sector. But there are so many
ways of serving voluntarily. You don’t
have to take the same path I did. But
that’s something that– that’s a message that I think everyone should wanna
encourage. And I hope the Republicans–
wanna encourage that as well. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator, picking up on this tone in– in the political
campaign– so much is said that’s critical about people who are in Washington,
the way Washington works, bureaucrats in Washington. How much responsibility do you think you and
other presidential candidates– this year there are just the– the two of you
major candidates have to– to change the rhetoric so that– so that people who
work in government, work in public service are respected? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, I– I think you make an important point. Look– Washington is broken. My whole campaign has been premised from the
start on the idea that we have to–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 OPERATOR:

 

Has left the conference. 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

–that the domination of special interests, the
domination of lobbyists– the loss of a civic culture in Washington among
public servants– has led to not only well-known disasters like the
mismanagement of– of the Katrina situation– but quiet disasters where you’ve
got entire agencies that have been hollowed out. And you’ve got political– appointees who
aren’t concerned with the mission of those organizations. 

 

 

 

So we’ve got to transform Washington. And we’ve gotta do some housecleaning. But what we also want to do is to remind
young people that if it weren’t for government then we wouldn’t have a– a
Civil Rights Act. If it weren’t for
government, we would not have– the interstate highway system. If it weren’t for government– we would not
have some of our parks and– natural– wilderness areas that are so precious to
America. And so part of my job I think
as President is to make government cool again– and to say– (APPLAUSE) to– to
say to young people even as we’re transforming Washington, come up. We want you. We want you to get involved at every level. 

 

 

 

And by the way, you don’t even have to join
government. Part of what we’re gonna do
is create transparency and accountability in how government works so that you
can be an active citizen holding your public servants and elected officials
accountable. That’s one other aspect of
citizenship is paying attention to what’s taking place. And part of what I– I’ve been thrilled about
during the course of this campaign is how energized people have been– how
interested people are. 

 

 

 

I mean, the– the– the viewership both for the
Democratic and Republican Convention broke all records. You know, we have seen the kinds of
volunteerism in our own campaign which, by the way, we’re channeling not just
to work on our campaign. We’ve had–
had– thousands hours of community service by our volunteers not organized by
us but organized by themselves. And
that’s the kind of opportunity that I think we have to tap into. 

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Now, you mentioned civic participation is at an all-time
high. Basically there’s– you mentioned
voluntary associations before. Back in
the 19th century the famous French– the scholar–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 RICHARD STENGEL:

 

–Tocqueville came here and said, "You know,
America’s voluntary associations make it unique and special." Is volunteerism, is national service part of
American exceptionalism? Is it part of
what makes America special? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Yes. We have
always balanced the tradition of individual responsibility and self-reliance
with notions of community and love for country in part because of voluntary
associations. What it’s done is it’s
allowed people to– to exercise the freedom to determine the direction of their
communities but still recognizing that we are part of a common project– of
creating a better life for the next generation. 

 

 

 

And that’s something that’s been lost. But what we’re seeing in this campaign is
it’s something that people want to restore. And it requires responsibilities. I mean, part of what is interesting about our campaign, for example, is
that– when young people come in, we work them like dogs. I mean, and they are given big
responsibilities. One of the striking
things when you visit our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, you’ve got 22, 23 year
olds– platoon leaders who are taking on life and death responsibilities and
decision making. 

 

 

 

We sell too many of our citizens short. They want to be involved. But we’ve gotta start early. We’ve got– and that’s part of the reason why
I wanna make sure that we’ve got opportunities in high school. We’ve got opportunities in college. That we help schools create a civic education
system that in– involves community service so that– these values are
transmitted to the next generation. 

 

 

 

And I think parents would be thrilled to have their kids
turn off the videogame and get out there and do something. And you know what? It turns out the kids would– appreciate it
as well. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Is there a– a President or an administration that would
be a model for you? I mean, everybody
talks about what John Kennedy asked the country to do. But– John Kennedy or any other President–

 

 (OVERTALK)

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, look, I– I– I think what– what Kennedy did at a
time of– of enormous change as to look out into the horizon and say this is
where America needs to go, not just to the moon but all sorts of new
frontiers. And– then he created
structures like the Peace Corps to channel the idealism that he tapped. I think Bill Clinton in setting up
AmeriCorps, again, put up– created structures but tapped into idealism that
was already there. I think it is right
below the service. And so my role–

 

  RICHARD STENGEL:

 

Any Repub– any Republican President come to mind? 

 

 SEN.
BARACK OBAMA:

 

Well, Teddy Roosevelt I think was an activist President
who understood the– how we mobilize our– our citizens means that we hold our
institutions accountable, public and private. And– and that’s why, you know, one of the premises of our campaign from
the start has been that– change happens from the bottom up. It doesn’t happen from the top down. 

 

 

 

It happens because the American people look up and they
say, "We imagine a world not as it is but as it should be. And are willing to roll up our sleeves and
put in the hard work to change this country block by block, neighborhood by
neighborhood, state by state." And– and that I think is the– the kind of President I would like to
be, is– is one that inspires more– of that feeling and provides the avenues
to express it. 

 

 JUDY
WOODRUFF:

 

Senator Barack Obama, thank you very much for joining us
for this (UNINTEL PHRASE). (APPLAUSE)
Thank you (UNINTEL). 

 

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