With the election only 12 days away, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are embarking on the final legs of their campaign tours. Both candidates have plans to appear in battleground states like Ohio and Florida, but they’ve also been paying their dues – Obama especially – to the entertainment beast with recent stints on The Tonight Show, The Late Night with David Letterman and Live! With Kelly and Michael. The latest is Rolling Stone, which, not surprisingly for the historically liberal publication, features a cover-story interview with the President. Conducted by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley – who is staunchly anti-Romney – the interview covers many of the campaign’s familiar talking points: women’s reproductive rights, the economy, Obamacare. But there are indeed some surprises, even for those of us who watched all three debates (or at least saw the highlights). Take a look after the jump at the 10 points that stood out the most.
1. Mitt Romney is a “bullsh***er.”
That’s right, get ready for the best political buzzphrase since “Get the transcript.” In the introduction, Brinkley quotes Obama saying, “You know, kids have good instincts…They look at the other guy and say, ‘Well, that’s a bullsh***er, I can tell.’”
2. There are people on both ends who aren’t playing by the rules.
Addressing a question about Romney’s now-infamous “behind closed doors” 47 percent comment, the President acceded in part to the claim that some people are abusing the system. “There are a whole bunch of millionaires who aren’t paying any income tax, as well as people at the lower end of the income spectrum who may be taking advantage of the safety net we’ve put in place. We should hold everybody accountable who’s not doing their fair share.”
3. The President cannot simply toe a party line.
Obama believes that Romney is too complacent with the Republican Party’s conservative values to voice any individual positions. “If you can’t say no to certain elements of your party, if you don’t have sets of principles that you’re willing to fight for, even if they’re not politically convenient, then you’re gonna have a tough time in this office.”
4. Roe v. Wade is in immediate danger.
Should Romney score a victory in November, Obama posits, the landmark Supreme Court case in women’s reproductive rights will almost certainly be overturned. “I don’t think there’s any doubt. Governor Romney has made clear that’s his position. His running mate has made this one of the central principles of his public life.”
5. Obama never had a doubt about the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality.
The President’s universal health care package, dubbed Obamacare, barely survived in the Supreme Court, passing with a 5-4 vote thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts. Apparently Obama didn’t even break a sweat. “I wasn’t surprised. I was always confident that the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, was constitutional… the notion that Congress could not take a comprehensive approach to [healthcare] the way we have makes no sense.”
6. History will validate Obamacare.
Obama feels that time will reward his insistence upon implementing Obamacare, in the same way that other social programs are now lauded as successes. “Just like Medicare and Social Security, as time goes on, as people see what it does, as it gets refined and improved, people will say, ‘This was the last piece to our basic social compact’ – providing people with some core security from the financial burdens of an illness or bad luck.”
7. Ayn Rand’s economic philosophy is child’s play.
Paul Ryan may be a studly poster-child for the Objectivist philosopher, but Obama views her libertarian ideals as nothing but adolescent fantasies. “Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision.”
8. His first term is full of achievements.
Both Republicans and more-liberal Democrats have criticized the President’s inability to effect real change, but Obama stressed the things that his administration has done. “Sometimes folks obsess with gridlock and the ugliness of the process down here in Washington. We passed health care – something that presidents have tried to do for 100 years…We passed the toughest Wall Street reform since the 1930s… We have expanded access to college through the Pell Grant program and by keeping student loans low. The list of things that we’ve accomplished, even once the Republicans took over, is significant.”
9. Wall Street needs a sea change.
Asked to describe one regulation he would impose on the financial industry, Obama advocated more than just government intervention – he called for a wholesale cultural shift. “I will tell you, the single biggest thing that I would like to see is changing incentives on Wall Street and how people get compensated. That ultimately requires not just congressional legislation but a change in corporate governance. You still have a situation where people making bets can get a huge upside, and their downsides are limited. So it tilts the whole system in favor of very risky behavior.”
10. Mitt Romney should be Mitt Romney for Halloween.
When asked what he thinks Romney should wear for Halloween, Obama said, “I don’t know about this Halloween. Next Halloween I hope he’ll be an ex-presidential candidate.”