“There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education: Yes, we're going to have an education policy; yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction. But ultimately we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House.”
The president-elect said his administration is interested in “elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about.”
“Thinking about the diversity of our culture and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that once again we appreciate this incredible tapestry that's America,” he said.
“Historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that sense that better days are ahead,” Obama said. “I think that our art and our culture, our science—you know, that's the essence of what makes America special, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.”
Obama was asked — as he occasionally is, most recently by ABC’s Barbara Walters — whether he still sneaks a cigarette now and then. He suggested he does, but said he won’t at his new address.
“What I said was that there were times where I have fallen off the wagon,” Obama said. “What I would say is that I have done a terrific job under the circumstances of making myself much healthier, and I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House.”
Almost as a benediction, Obama added a word of praise at the end for the longtime moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert, who died in June at age 58.
Obama praised Brokaw “on doing such a great job on this show,” and Brokaw responded: “ Well, those were circumstances none of us wanted to have, but Tim remains with us in a lot of ways, as you know.”
Obama replied: “He does.”