Transcript: Obama's Interview With Regional Reporters - Page 10 of 15

Transcript: Obama’s Interview With Regional Reporters

just to look and see is that one factor out of 10 or 15 factors, is it such a significant factor that, in fact, it’s really preventing certain groups from having any representation whatsoever.

So I guess that’s all a long way of saying that you really have to look at the data and examine whether or not it still has some applicability.

The only other thing I’d — the only other point I’d make about this is keep in mind that the pre-clearance is just that — it requires before you make a change to go before the D.C. circuit or the federal courts and just show that these changes aren’t a problem. That’s not such a huge hurdle to jump through. So I think it’s legitimate to err on the side of caution before you started eliminating that requirement.

Q Thank you.

Q Mr. President, I wanted to follow up on the border question and the violence in Mexico. President Calderón recently decided to send an additional 5,000 of his troops to the border. The Texas governor has asked for a thousand U.S. troops or Border Agents to reinforce the border on our side. What is the tipping point in you mind, where the violence gets so bad that you need to act?

And related to that, you named a new drug czar today. You’ve taken that position out of the Cabinet. You in the past have talked about decriminalization of marijuana. Are we still engaged in a war on drugs?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me first start on the troop issue. We’ve got a very big border with Mexico. And so I’m not interested in militarizing the border. I am interested in providing the kind of — in creating the kind of partnership with the Mexican government that ensures the safety of U.S. citizens, the safety of Mexican citizens, and allows for the continued cross-border trade that’s so important to the region.

If we’re going to examine whether and if National Guard deployments would make sense and in what circumstances they would make sense as part of this overall review of our border situation — I haven’t drawn any conclusions yet. I don’t have a particular tipping point in mind. I think it’s unacceptable if you’ve got drug gangs crossing our borders and killing U.S. citizens. I think if one U.S. citizen is killed because of foreign nationals who are engaging in violent crime, that’s enough of a concern to do something about it.

With respect to — what was the second question?

Q If decriminalization of the marijuana laws —

THE PRESIDENT: I think what gave me pause on that question was I think you — I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that I — well, the implication was somehow that I think we should weaken our drug laws. That’s never been my position. I think that what we do have to — I think the approach that we do need to take is to make sure that we have a both/and approach as opposed to an either/or approach.

I think traditionally the