(CBS Local)– President Barack Obama’s time in the White House served as one of the most fascinating chapters in America history and former 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft had a front row seat to the 44th President’s rise from a senator to a two term president.
Kroft interviewed President Obama 17 times during his tenure at CBS News and those conversations have been transformed into an audiobook for Simon & Schuster called “Barack Obama: The 60 Minutes Interviews.” Kroft provided commentary between each conversation and said it was really interesting to go back and realize how relevant so many of his conversations with President Obama still are.
“The interviews were between January 2007 and January 2016 and Simon & Schuster wanted me to write and record some narrations that held them all together and gave context to the interviews,” said Kroft, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I was worried about how dated the interviews would be and I was really surprised how relevant they still are today in many different ways. Particularly at a time when leadership at the White House is on everyone’s mind.”
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While President Obama changed a lot from the beginning of his presidency to the end, Kroft says in many ways the man himself remained the same. Kroft’s first interview with President Obama came a week before he announced his candidacy.
“We had no idea when we first met that we’d be doing 17 interviews, they just developed one at a time,” said Kroft. “You can hear him change and see the gradual changes. You see him developing from a very unlikely presidential candidate to a world leader and one of the most powerful people in the world in the space of a year. He was facing some really incredible challenges. One of the things that surprised me the most was that he won. You forget how improbable it was at the beginning. The other thing was how quickly he was consumed by this financial crisis in 2008, which didn’t happen when he was in office but when he was running against John McCain. By the time he was inaugurated, a lot of big decisions had already been made by the outgoing Bush administration.”
In addition to the conversations between Kroft and President Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all make appearances in this audiobook. Kroft’s audiobook serves as a reminder of the complicated relationship between President Obama and Secretary Clinton.
“They did not like each other when they were running against each other as most people know,” said Kroft. “They told me later that most of the animosity was between their spouses and not between them personally. Once the election happened and once the Clintons came on board, which was really a crucial step for him [President Obama], because I think at the beginning McCain was still a pretty strong favorite. He got them on board and decided to utilize her talents.”
Kroft’s audiobook is available for purchase right now and watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.