Doris Kearns Goodwin: Cited by Obama, she responds

Historians in the News

MR. RUSSERT: Doris, in Boca Raton on Thursday, Barack Obama was asked about vice president, specifically about Hillary Clinton, and here's his answer, which talks about you.


Unidentified Man: When the time comes, will you be willing to consider everybody who is a possible help to you as a running mate, even if his or her spouse is an occasional pain in the butt?

SEN. OBAMA: I, I--well, look. Well, look, look, look. The--we've got a little more work to do. So I don't want to jump the gun. I will tell you, though, that my goal is to have the best possible government. And that means me winning. And so I am very practical-minded. I'm a practical-minded guy. And, you know, one of my, one of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln. And a while back there was a wonderful book written by Doris Kearns Goodwin called "Team of Rivals," in which--talked about how Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet because whatever, you know, personal feelings there were, the issue was how can we get this country through this time of crisis? And I think that has to be the approach that one takes.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Who did Lincoln take into his Cabinet?

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: Lincoln took all of his chief rivals into his Cabinet--Seward, Chase and Bates. He also took Stanton in, who had called him an ape, who had said terrible things about him, much worse than Clinton has ever said about Obama. But what it showed--and I think that's what Obama is suggesting--is that he was big-hearted enough, he was confident enough not to have to have just people who would be his personal supporters and not question his authority. And I think what Obama is saying is if this person can help me win this election, fit the jigsaw puzzle pieces together, she has one part of the map, I have another, I can rise above those personal feelings. But I suppose--and Lincoln put it in noble fashion, he said, "Look, people are wondering why have I done this? First of all, the country's in peril. These are the strongest and most able men in the country. I need them by my side." But perhaps my old buddy Lyndon Johnson might have put it in less noble fashion, "better to have your enemies inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."

MR. RUSSERT: I just heard the beep. Like keep your enemies closer?

MS. KEARNS GOODWIN: Keep your enemies closer.

MS. DOWD: Both of them?

MR. MEACHAM: I like the way Doris says it.
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