Picking up from Al Roker's puffery about Barack Obama's Irish heritage from yesterday, NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Tuesday's "Today" show asked Ireland's President Mary McAleese to gauge the U.S. president's popularity on the Emerald Isle as she queried, "Barack Obama, our new president...I understand much loved here...What is it about Barack Obama that instills in, in the people of Ireland?" To which McAleese responded that Obama' is a "big favorite," and that "He arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood of great despair. He had really captured the imagination, particularly of young people."
McAleese, after being prodded by Vieira, also revealed her own son campaigned for Obama in '08, and bragged that he predicted he would be President when he first met him at the 2004 Democratic Convention.
The following is a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview as it was aired on the March 17, "Today" show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Barack Obama, our new president.
MARY MCALEESE: Yeah.
VIEIRA: I understand much loved here.
MCALEESE: Yeah, big favorite.
VIEIRA: In part because he's a native son, on his mother's side
MCALEESE: Of course in Moneygall, absolutely. Of Moneygall, County Offaly. Yes.
VIEIRA: So he's an Irish boy, right?
VIEIRA: In your book?
MCALEESE: For sure. For sure. But even if he wasn't I think that we would have such faith and hope in him.
VIEIRA: Why? Why? What is it about Barack Obama that instills in, in the people of Ireland?
MCALEESE: Well he arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood-
MCALEESE: -of great despair.
MCALEESE: He had really captured the imagination, particularly of young people. You know that's not easy to do. You know there's so much cynicism.
VIEIRA: Your son, your son is one of them?
MCALEESE: My son went over and campaigned for him. He did. My son saw him first in 2004, at the time that John Kerry was nominated.
VIEIRA: Oh and saw Barack Obama speak at the convention?
MCALEESE: He saw him speak at the convention. My son was a humble intern at that. And he rang us the early hours of the morning, I have to say interrupted my sleep at 4:00 o'clock in the morning to tell us that he had just meant a future President of the United States. I thought he was talking about John Kerry and I said to him, are you talking about John Kerry? And he said, "No, not at all. I'm talking about a man called Barack Obama." And I have to say, my immediate response was, "I've never heard of him, who is he?" And he said, "Mom, you'll never have that to say again."
VIEIRA: That is for sure.