Here are some highlights from the interview transcript.
Obama on Wright:
"I think that people were legitimately offended by some of the comments he had made in the past. The fact he's my former pastor I think it makes it a legitimate political issue. So I understand that. I think that it is also true that to run a snippet of 30-second sound bites, selecting out of a 30-year career, simplified and caricatured him and caricatured the church. I think that was done in a fairly deliberate way, and that is unfortunate because as I said before, I have strongly denounced those comments that were the subject of so much attention. I wasn't in church when he made them, but I also know that, you know, I go to church not to worship the pastor, but to worship God. And that ministry, the church family that has been built there does outstanding work, has been I think applauded for its outreach to the poor. He built that ministry, and I think that, you know, people need to take a look at the whole church and the whole man in making the assessments."
On flag pins:
“I have worn flag pins in the past. I will wear flag pins in the future. The fact that I said that some politicians use the flag pins and then aren't acting in a particularly patriotic way, for that to be translated into me being anti-patriotic or anti-flag I think that is a distraction. I think that is not reflective of me or the love that I have for this country. Keep in mind I came on scene nationally at the Democratic Convention, giving a patriotic speech about what America means to me and what this country is about.”
On campaigning against John McCain on tax policy:
“I'm going to roll right back at John McCain because look at his tax proposals. He just went out there and not only wants to continue some of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, he wants to extend them and he has not told us how he's going to pay for them. It is irresponsible and the irony is he said it was irresponsible. When George Bush initiated the tax cuts in 2001, he said this is shameful. It offended he conscience, to give tax breaks to the wealthy particularly at a time of war. Somewhere along the line, you know, his conscience took flight because he was looking to get nominated for the republican -- as a republican nominee. So I'm happy to have that debate. If you look at my approach to taxation, what have I said? I would cut taxes making $70,000 a year or less and for seniors who are making $50,000 a year or less. It is true I'd roll back the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans back to what they were under President Clinton, where I don't remember rich people feeling oppressed…I would not raise it higher than it was under Ronald Reagan, but the fact is that I'm mindful that we have to keep our capital gains tax to a point where we can actually get more revenue. But that's not something that's going to affect the average person with a 401(k) when people start talking about how millions of Americans -- most of the people own stock in 401(k)'s whether taxes are deferred or if they pay income taxes when they cash out. And as far as raising the cap on the payroll tax, everybody who is making $102,000 or less pays 100% of payroll tax on 100% of their income. There are 3% to 4% of Americans who are above $102,000 in income every year. so if you want to talk about who's middle class, me giving cuts to folks making $60,000r $70,000 and potentially asking more from friends of mine like Warren Buffett who I have no idea what he made last year, you know, that's a debate I m happy to have with John McCain. It's the people making $75,000, $60,000 who are hurting and when John McCain promises tax cuts to corporations that are not paid for, then what we are doing is loading up this nation with debt and if we're not paying for it now, our kids and our grand kids will have to pay for it.”
On how he'd manage the war:
“I will listen to General Petraeus given the experience that he's accumulated over the last several years. It would be stupid of me to ignore what he has to say. but it is my job as president, it would be my job as Commander in Chief to set the mission, to make the strategic decisions in light of the problems that we're having in Afghanistan in light of the problems we're having in Pakistan, the fact that Al Qaeda is strengthening as our national intelligence estimates have indicated since 2001. And so we've got a whole host of tasks and i have also got to worry about the fact that the military has no strategic reserve right now. If we have an emergency in the Korean peninsula, if we have an emergency elsewhere in the world, we don't have the troops to deal with it… What I will do is say, we have a new mission. It's my strategic assessment we have to provide a timetable to the Iraqi government. I want you to tell me how best to execute this new assignment, and I am happy to listen to the tactical considerations and any ideas you have, but what I will not do is to continue to let the Iraqi government off the hook and allow them to put our foreign policy on ice while they dither about making decisions about how they're going to cooperate with each other.”