President Obama Talks Donald Trump, His Own Legacy and Getting Some Sleep in '60 Minutes' Interview

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President Barack Obama

Asked what skills one needs to serve as president, Obama replied, "Thick skin helps."

President Barack Obama weighed in on Donald Trump, his own legacy and what's ahead for him in an sit-down that aired on Sunday night's 60 Minutes.

Interviewed for the CBS newsmagazine by Steve Kroft, President Obama said — apart from being "grayer" and having "a few more wrinkles" — he doesn't feel like he's changed much since he first took office.

"One of the things I'm proud about is that I think my basic character and outlook actually have not changed much," he said. "And people who are closest to me will tell you that the guy who came here is the same guy who's leaving. And the reason I take pride for that is one of the things you worry about when you're in the bubble, and there's all this pomp and circumstance and hail to the chief is, do you lose touch with what you thought was important and what brought you here? And I'm proud that I don't think I have lost touch."

Asked what skills one needs to serve as president, Obama replied, "Thick skin helps."

He added: "Stamina. There is a greater physical element to this job than you would think, just being able to grind it out. And I think your ability to, not just mentally and emotionally but physically be able to say, 'We got this. We're going to be OK.'"

Asked if he was able to "change Washington," Obama replied, "I changed those things that were in my direct control." He said he's proud that his administration is the first in "modern history" that hasn't experienced a major scandal.

As for any regrets, he said he wishes that he'd been able to secure a new Supreme Court justice before leaving office.

Reflecting on his time in the White House, Obama said that, when he first took office, he was surprised about "the severity of partisanship in this town" despite having been warned about it. "To sustain a governing majority, that requires an ability for Republicans and Democrats to find some common ground," he said. "And right now, the structure of the system is such where it makes it really hard for people to work together. And we mentioned an example earlier — the Supreme Court nominations."

Kroft also asked President Obama if he thought that having "two of the most unpopular presidential candidates selected by the two parties in history" is indicative of something "wrong" in America. He replied that he thinks it points to an abundance of cynicism.

"It indicates that the corrosive nature of everything from talk radio to fake news to negative advertising has made people lack confidence in a lot of our existing institutions," he said. "I think it indicates, at least on the Democratic side, that we've got more work to do to strengthen our grassroots networks. In some ways, the Democratic Party hadn't constructed itself to get that message out to the places it needed to get to."

As for Trump, Obama called him an "unconventional candidate" and noted that he was able to "tap into a lot of grievances" while connecting with his supporters in a way that "overrode some of the traditional benchmarks of how you'd run a campaign or conduct yourself as a presidential candidate."

Added Obama: "What will be interesting to see is how that plays out during the course of his presidency. We are moving into an era where a lot of people get their information through tweets and sound bites and some headline that comes over their phone. And I think that there's a power in that. There's also a danger, what generates a headline or stirs up a controversy and gets attention isn't the same as the process required to actually solve the problem."

President Obama also said that people shouldn't underestimate Trump, and advised Republicans and Trump supporters to make sure that "as we go forward, certain norms, certain institutional traditions don't get eroded, because there's a reason they're in place."

Asked how his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha felt about leaving the White House, Obama said the former "never fully took to the scrutiny," while the latter two are ready to be done with the "constraints" of needing Secret Service protection at all times.

As for Obama himself, he said he has a few things on his agenda designed to give him some R&R: "I'm going to try to get some sleep. And do a little puttering. Because I haven't had a lot of chance to reflect and absorb all this. I do not expect to be behind a desk a lot. I look forward to teaching the occasional class, because I was a professor. And I had fun doing it."

He added that leaving is "bittersweet," however, as he'll miss the people he's worked with in Washington.

As for what he'll be remembered for, Obama demurred, saying it won't become clear for another decade.

But, he added, "I do think that saving the economy was a pretty big deal. We did a lot of stuff early that ended up having an impact. I believe that the work we've done in moving our energy future in a cleaner direction is going to stick, even if some of the individual steps that we took are reversed by future administrations. I think that it's embedded itself in the economy. And we've been able to organize the international community around it in ways that aren't going to go back."

Obama added that he thinks his administration "set the bar" in terms of providing healthcare to Americans.

"Now, I know that the incoming Congress and administration talks about repealing it," he said. "But we've set a bar that shows that this can be done. And that core principle is one that the majority of Americans, including supporters of Donald Trump, believe in."

CBS' 60 Minutes airs at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday. The hourlong Obama special marked the 12th interview with him since he was elected president eight years ago.

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