Beltway Confidential

13 questions Chris Matthews asked President Obama during his 'Hardball' interview

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Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering,Barack Obama,MSNBC,Chris Matthews,Media,Television

MSNBC's Chris Matthews interviewed President Obama on Thursday in front of an audience of students at American University in Washington, D.C.

Here are 13 of the interview questions Matthews asked President Obama during a live taping of his show "Hardball" (lightly edited for clarity).

1. So, what brought you to "Hardball"?

2. You have a great audience here of college-age people and some graduate students and faculty. There's some resistance out there among young people -— I've seen it in the polls — to enrolling in the exchanges and to get involved in taking responsibility for their health care. What's your argument why they should do that?

3. Well, you saw the front page of The Washington Post [Thursday] with that story about the National Security Agency basically patrolling all of the cell phones in the world, basically. A lot of young people point to their privacy requirements. They don't like being part of anything that's collecting information. Health care — is this going to be one of the detriments to people wanting to sign up, they want to keep their privacy?

4. How do we get back to that confidence that we can solve our man-made problems and other problems?

5. We've rarely had one party in power for more than a year or two. The country doesn't want that, generally. So, are we stuck with this as long as we have two parties running our government, they can't compromise?

6. Why not strike a deal, and then you can blame [House Speaker John] Boehner for the parts of the deal you don't like, and he can blame you for the parts that he doesn't like?

7. [On Boehner and immigration] Didn't he just say, "We won't do it in '14" today?

8. The trust question, the commitments you made before the rollout with health care — what is it? What is it that's just — it's a serial decline, Mr. President. It keeps going down. I know we had Watergate. We had the Vietnam War, of course, all that together. But what's going to stop and arrest that decline of faith in you doing the right thing, you being honest, anybody who's president, this skepticism that's out there?

9. And it didn't seem like there was a strong top-down authority system from you. Did you have — or do you have now — let's look forward here. Do you have a relationship with your cabinet that you have a system of cracking the whip, that they follow through, they execute as you envision they should, or do you work through a [chief of staff] like [Denis] McDonough?

10. This is a Twitter question we got from C. Wilhelms is his name. He said: "What can we do to stop the GOP" — the Republicans — "from rigging the states" — or "rigging the votes state by state to disenfranchise voters and destroy our democracy?" Thirty-six states right now led by Republican legislatures have been trying to make it difficult for minority people to vote, especially in big cities, and older people. Everybody knows the game. Republicans often admit the game: to deny people the vote. How can — well, what's your reaction?

11. You know, Mr. President, your — your remarks the other day on economic justice to me, as a Roman Catholic, was so resonant with what the Holy Father, Francis, has been saying. Talk about that common Judeo-Christian or, even further, Muslim background to the belief we have a social responsibility, a moral responsibility to look out for people who haven't made it in this country.

12. Well, we're almost done. I have to ask you a little question you may not like to answer. This could be tough. It's an essay question: The qualities required of a president. Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, compare and contrast.

13. You know, what I always thought was great about what you did in your early political career — this just my personal observation because I love studying politicians. You lost that race in the south side to Bobby Rush. And you got in your car and drove out into the burbs with a map next to you in the passenger seat. And you said, "I'm going to do this thing." How many kids here want to go into politics? [Hands rise in the audience.] Are they right?

Conclusion: On behalf of the people who watch me every night and are loyalists, many of them to you — thank you for coming on the show.

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