TV Guide Profiles Russert

From here: Your “Meet the Candidates” programs are a make-or-break kind of situation. When does a candidate know that he or she is ready to spend an hour with you?

    Russert: When they really want to be a serious candidate and a serious president. I have a simple premise for you: I don’t think you can make tough decisions unless you can answer tough questions. The most important thing about the Meet the Press format is that you’re allowed to finish your thought and complete your sentence. I don’t interrupt people or harass them or harangue them. I try to give them an opportunity to express themselves. But I am going to be persistent in my questioning. Civil but persistent. If you changed your mind on an issue, that’s fine. I’m not trying to play “gotcha.” But I do expect, and the voter expects, that you’ve had some intellectual journey — this is where I was, this is where I am, and this is where I hope to be. The viewer wants to take a measure…. Barack Obama came in January of 2006 and said, “I will serve my full six-year term as U.S. senator. I will not be a candidate for president or vice president in 2008.” He came back on in November, and I said, “This is what you said then. Do you stand by those words?” He looked up and said, “I’m not going to be coy. I’ve changed my mind.”

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