Barbara Walters on the Obamas: 'I Don't Want to Gush. They're Very Cute.'

Barbara Walters, ABC Host | NewsBusters.orgABC’s Barbara Walters couldn’t contain herself as she previewed her upcoming interview with Barack and Michelle Obama on Wednesday’s Good Morning America: “[T]hey’re very -- I don’t know how to put it. I don’t want to gush. They’re very cute, and very -- and very funny in this interview together.” Walters played two clip of the interview, which is set to air on ABC’s 20/20 on Wednesday night, in which she asked the president-elect softball questions such as, “How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?”

Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts interviewed Walters just after the top of the 7 am Eastern hour of the ABC program, as “The View” co-host played the two clips from her time with the Obamas. During the first clip, after asking how the outgoing Illinois senator felt about the auto executives and their private planes, Walters brought up another group of business leaders: “Should bank executives -- it’s almost Christmastime -- forego their bonuses?” Once Mr. Obama gave his answer, she posed a question about a much less serious matter: “How are you going to get along without your Blackberry?” Roberts broke in after he answered, and remarked how it was “so tough to give up that Blackberry.”

The GMA co-host first asked Walters, “How are they doing?” The ABC veteran began to gush from the first moment of her first answer: “ They -- together, they’re very funny. I’ve never seen [them] this relaxed. By the way, he’s losing, so far, that negotiation about the Blackberry.” She continued by talking about the issue of the Obama daughters, which was the main subject of the second clip from the interview.

After the second clip, Roberts repeated Walters’ earlier point: “As you said, very comfortable -- very funny with one another.” She then asked, “How would you describe their relationship, Barbara?” Walters first described their conversation of the Obamas’ individual senses of humor, and gave an anecdote about how Mr. Obama stopped his wife for a second, so he could wipe lipstick off of her teeth. It was at this point that “The View” co-host made her “I don’t want to gush” remark.

Roberts closed the segment by asking about the Obamas’ Thanksgiving plans and who “gets the last word a lot.” Once Walters gave her final answer, Roberts herself gushed a bit over the future First Couple: “Quite a partnership.”

The full transcript of the Roberts/Walters segment, which began 2 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of ABC’s Good Morning America:

ROBIN ROBERTS: ...[W]e begin the morning with ABC’s new exclusive interview with President-Elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Barbara Walters sat down last night with the new first couple in their hometown of Chicago, where Barack Obama talked candidly about the economic bailout, and adjusting to his new life as president-elect.

BARBARA WALTERS (from taped interview): How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: Well, I thought -- maybe they’re a little tone-deaf to what’s happening in America right now. And this has been a chronic problem, not just for the auto industry. I mean, when people are pulling down $100 million bonuses on Wall Street, and taking enormous risks with other people’s money -- that indicates a sense that you don’t have any perspective on what's happening to ordinary Americans.

WALTERS: Should bank executives -- it’s almost Christmastime -- forego their bonuses?

OBAMA: I think they should. That’s an example of taking responsibility. I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you’re having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, I’m willing to make some sacrifice, as well, because I recognize that there [are] people who are lot less well-off who are going through some pretty tough times.

WALTERS: How are you going to get along without your Blackberry?

OBAMA: (Laughs.) This is a problem. You know, one of the things that I’m going to have to work through is how to break through the isolation, the bubble, that exists around the president, and I’m in the process of negotiating with the Secret Service, with lawyers, with White House staff.

WALTERS: You might have a Blackberry?

OBAMA: Well, I’m negotiating to figure out how can I get information from outside of the 10 or 12 people who surround my office in the White House. I want to make sure that I keep my finger on the pulse of the struggles that people are going through every day.

ROBERTS (on-camera): So tough to give up that Blackberry. And, of course, Barbara just returned with this interview. She joins us now. You were just in Chicago hours ago --

WALTERS: That’s right.

ROBERTS: [You] had a chance to sit down with the Obamas, as we just saw. What -- how are they doing?

WALTERS: They -- together, they’re very funny. I’ve never seen [them] this relaxed. By the way, he’s losing, so far, that negotiation about the Blackberry. But, of course, their main concern is about, you know, the two, little girls, and how they have a life that’s not in a bubble -- how they have a life that’s as normal as possible. And you’ll be surprised that -- how they’re going to make that happen.

OBAMA (from taped inteview): I think a lot of it just has to do with making sure that they understand that they’re special to us because we’re their parents. But they’re not special in terms of having to do their home work or having to do chores. Or --

ROBERTS: They’re going to do chores in the White House?

B. OBAMA: Absolutely. You know, having --

MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah. That was the first thing I said to some of the staff when I did my visit, because, of course, they were like, ‘oh, the girls -- they're so great.’ I said, you know, we’re going to have to set up some boundaries, because they’re going to need to be able to make their beds --

WALTERS: Really?

M. OBAMA: And clean up. They do that now.

B. OBAMA: They’ve been doing that since they were four years old.

ROBERTS: In the White House, they’re going to make their beds and clean up their rooms?

M. OBAMA: That’s going to be one of my goals.

B. OBAMA: That’s our plan.

M. OBAMA: You don’t make their beds. Make mine (both Obamas laugh) but skip the kids. Let them make their own beds. They have to learn these things.

B. OBAMA: Right. The thing I’m most proud [of] about my kids is that they’re kind, thoughtful kids, and they show everybody respect. Everybody they meet. They’re kind and sweet, too, and they’re thoughtful, and, you know, if they retain that, the other stuff will take care of itself.

ROBERTS (on-camera): As you said, very comfortable -- very funny with one another. How would you describe their relationship, Barbara?

WALTERS: By the way, you know, he’s usually so serious, and when he discusses Afghanistan with us and the economy, it’s very serious. He says that he is funny. I said, people think you don’t have much of a sense of humor. He said, no, I’m funny -- but she’s funnier. They did something that I think everyone can relate to. We sit down for the interview, and she -- Mrs. Obama is talking, and he bends over and says just a minute, dear. And he takes, on camera, the lipstick off her teeth. We left it in. I said, you know what, I’m going to leave this in, because everybody should see [it]. You know, [unintelligible] They’re -- they’re very -- I don’t know how to put it. I don’t want to gush. They’re very cute, and very -- and very funny in this interview together.

ROBERTS: Of course, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. What are their plans?

WALTERS: She says that they’re going to have 60 people at least, and he says, yeah, mostly her relatives. She’s says I'm not cooking. She said, and I quote, ‘my husband ran for president. I should have another cooking something for dinner.’ So she's just going to -- she’ll be a lady of leisure, more or less, at the dinner.

ROBERTS: We see how they are very comfortable with each other, going back and forth, but who gets the last word a lot?

WALTERS: She says she does, and he says she gets the last word -- I‘m quoting him: ‘When Momma's happy, everyone is happy.’ And she talked, too, about the fact, you know, that he is always so cool and so on. And he says, yeah, but sometimes she gets under my skin. And I said, well, what? And he said, Well, when she’s unreasonable. She does keep him grounded. She gives him the little nudges here and there. When he talks about not wanting to be in a bubble, she won’t let him be in a bubble. That’s when you see her teasing and trying to -- not put him down. But saying, hey, you know? Let’s remember who we are, just the two of us.

ROBERTS: Quite a partnership. Well, Barbara, thank you. I know you just landed hours ago to bring us a sneak peek. We appreciate it, and you can see all of Barbara’s exclusive interview with the Obamas on a special edition of ABC's 20/20. You can see it tonight at 10/9 Central. Thanks again, Barbara.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center