Barack Obama's 2003 Chicago Tonight appearance when gearing up for the 2003 Democratic primary for Senate. First time online. Follow me on Twitter at Twitter.com/AKaczynski1 for more great political videos.
In two television interviews conducted with Barack Obama when he was a candidate for U.S. Senate, the then-Illinois state representative exhibited some of the liberal tendencies Americans have come to recognize in his presidency, along with statements that seem at odds with his later policy decisions, and criticisms of the George W. Bush administration for budget deficits and foreign oil prices far milder than those over which Obama now presides.
“Chicago Tonight,” a production of WTTW-TV11 in Chicago, conducted the interviews in 2003 and 2004. The videos were first made publicly available on YouTube on Friday and Saturday. At the time of the 2003 appearance, Obama was a recent entrant into the Democratic primary race to replace the retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. By the 2004 interview, Obama had already won a landslide primary victory and was just entering the general election season.
On the first tape, Obama addressed “economic security,” a theme that later followed him to the White House. Illinoisans, he said, were “trying to figure out, ‘What am I going to do about the potential layoff? How am I going to pay for my retirement?’”
But then, as now, Obama resisted the idea that cutting taxes on businesses creates American jobs.
Host Phil Ponce asked Obama to judge the argument that “tax cuts will spur investment in companies, spur the creation of jobs, and therefore benefit people who need work.”
“I have not seen a credible economist,” Obama replied, “who said that providing — eliminating taxation on dividends, for example — is going to provide any sort of economic stimulus.”
Ponce was asking about taxes on corporate income, not on investment dividends. He pressed Obama, asking if tax cuts would “increase investment in corporations, and allow them to expand their businesses and so forth?”
Obama again deflected the question, answering a different one that was never asked.
“I have not heard that argument on the part of many economists,” he said. “Not only that, but we know that the average Illinois citizen, if they have a stock it’s in a 401(k) — that is not where the dividends are not taxed currently.”
Obama also praised Democratic former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, calling her ”a trailblazer. She’s somebody who has set the tone nationally for progressive politics in a lot of ways, and we share our base.”
Moseley-Braun, a prominent feminist lawyer and a stalwart figure in American racial politics, had already been the subject of scandal in 1993 when Federal Election Commission (FEC) officials investigated $249,000 in funds missing from her campaign coffers. In 1996 she failed to report to the U.S. Department of State a trip to meet with Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, and later defended him against charges of human rights abuses. Moseley-Braun’s former fiance, a South African citizen, had been a lobbyist for the Nigerian government and was later paid a salary by her political campaign, a violation of FEC rules.
The only humorous moment came when Ponce asked whether Rod Blagojevich, then the governor of Illinois, had softened the ground for Obama by showing that a man with an unusual name could win an election.
“Rod is a trailblazer and a hero of mine,” Obama responded, smirking.