Transcript: Obama's Interview With Regional Reporters - Page 4 of 15

Transcript: Obama’s Interview With Regional Reporters

envoy today to oversee the closure of Guantanamo. I’d like to ask you about that. Among the places being — possibly being considered as an alternative to those prisons is Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There’s a wall of opposition —

THE PRESIDENT: Where my mother was born, by the way.

Q Exactly. There’s a wall of opposition to that — local officials, people in the area and plus from the congressional delegations of those states. How would you explain the rationale between the possibility — if a place like Leavenworth would be chosen, the rationale behind that, and reassuring people of their safety and security?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, keep in mind we haven’t made any decisions on this. But also recognize that these individuals who have been imprisoned, many of whom are very violent or who have been detained, many of whom are violent and are pledging violence against the United States, once captured are similar to criminals who have engaged in violence of other types. They are a serious risk, but so are many of the people who are currently in prison. And we would not — we would never put people into a situation that elevated the risks for surrounding communities. And that will obviously be something that we take very seriously as we’re making these decisions moving forward.

But we already have experience with terrorists who are in federal prisons. And there’s been no indication that the safety and security of prison guards or the surrounding communities have been compromised as a consequence. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a serious issue. I recognize why people are concerned. We haven’t made any firm decisions on this yet. But I have every confidence that we can determine the ultimate fates of those in Guantanamo in a way that’s consistent with our values, consistent with our ideals, and that keeps us safe and secure.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.

Q Mr. President, yesterday you called for eliminating restrictions on the number of charter schools while enforcing some vigorous standards. In Ohio, the Governor has called charter schools a destructive influence on public education, a few years ago tried to have a moratorium on new charters, now wants to cut state spending by about 20 percent for charter schools and restrict some other funding. I’m wondering whether you’ve ever talked with him about this, and is this just a fundamental disagreement between the two of you?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I haven’t had a conversation with Governor Strickland. I know that part of his concern was prompted by some bad experiences with charters in Ohio that weren’t up to snuff. And if you looked at my statement yesterday, what I said was not only should we lift the cap on charters, we should also shut down charters that aren’t meeting standards. I don’t think that’s inconsistent with Governor Strickland’s position.

My goal here is to create laboratories of innovation so that in the public school system, we are on a race to the top as opposed to stuck in the old ways