Bob Costas to Interview President Obama During Tonight's Opening Ceremony Coverage on NBC
NBC Olympics Primetime and late night host Bob Costas, a 25-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, interviewed President Barack Obama from NBC Olympics' studio in Sochi, Russia, site of the XXII Olympic Winter Games, while the President was in The White House. They exclusively discussed a variety of topics surrounding the Sochi Winter Games.
The full interview will air Friday night as part of NBC's coverage of the Opening Ceremony. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following the television airing, the full interview will be made available on www.NBCOlympics.com.
A video excerpt of the interview will air tonight on NBC in both Nightly News with Brian Williams and the Olympic Primetime program at 8 p.m. ET.
Following are excerpts from Thursday's interview:
BOB COSTAS: "...You are sending openly gay athletes like Caitlin Kaho and Brian Boitano as part of the delegation. It's hard to miss the message that's being sent there."
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "Well, there is no doubt we wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and one of the wonderful things about the Olympics is that you are judged by your merit. How good you are regardless of where you come from, what you look like, who you love and that I think is consistent with the spirit of the Olympics. It is certainly consistent with American values and we want to make sure the people understand that."
BOB COSTAS: "The U.S. and Russia each have their differences, but right now there is at least one area where those interests coincide. How satisfied are you about the level of cooperation between Russian and American intelligence and security forces when it comes to trying to keep these Games safe?"
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "Well, I think the Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in preventing any kind of terrorist act or violence at these venues. They have put a lot of resources into it. We're in constant communications with them, both at the law enforcement level, at the military level, at the intelligence levels, and it's not untypical of every Olympics, whether it's in Canada or China or anyplace else. We are consistently working with them to make sure that not only our athletes are safe, but everyone who's attending these Games are safe."
BOB COSTAS: "...Most people perceive your relationship with the Russian President, this might be the right adjective, this being the Winter Olympics, they perceive it as being icy. How would you characterize your relationship with President Putin?"
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "I wouldn't call it icy. The truth of the matter is that when we are in meetings there are a lot of exchanges, there's a surprising amount of humor, and a lot of give and take. He's always treated me with the utmost respect. I think he recognizes the importance to Russia of working with the United States on areas of mutual concern. He does have a public style where he likes to sit back and look a little bored during the course of joint interviews. I think that's where some of these perceptions come up. My sense is that's part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy. U.S. politicians have a different style. We tend to smile once in a while. The truth is, with any interaction between U.S. and Russian presidents, what's going to be primary are the issues at stake, and where we have common interests we are going to work together ."
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