President Obama called the proposed Quran burning a “stunt” and a “recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda” that “could greatly endanger our great young men and women in uniform.”
“I hope he listens to those better Angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in,” Obama said of Florida pastor Terry Jones on ABC’s Good Morning America.
On his White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel potentially running for Chicago mayor, Obama said he thinks Emanuel would be an “excellent” and “terrific” mayor, but that his “expectation is, he’d make a decision after these midterm elections.”
Here’s a transcript of those sections:
On Terry Jones:
If he’s listening, I just hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notions of religious freedoms and religious tolerance. And as a very practical matter, as commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling, could greatly endanger our great young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We are already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat that he’s making.
STEPH: What are you worried about?
OBAMA: Well, look, this is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities. You know, and so, I just hope that he says he’s someone who is motivated by his faith…
STEPH: He says he’s praying on it.
OBAMA: I hope he listens to those better Angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he’s engaging in.
STEPH: I wonder what this must feel like from behind your desk. You’re President of the United States. You have to deal with the fallout. And here’s a pastor who has 35 followers in his church.
STEPH: Does it make you feel helpless or angry?
OBAMA: It’s frustrating. But on the other hand, we are a government of laws and so we have to abide by those laws and my understanding is that he can be cited for public burning but that’s the extent of the laws we have available to us. You know, part of this country’s history is people doing destructive or offensive, harmful things, and yet, we still have to make sure we’re following the laws, and that’s part of what I love about this country.
On Rahm for Mayor:
I think he would be an excellent mayor. He is an excellent chief of staff. I think right now, as long as he is in the White House, he is critically focused on making sure that we’re creating jobs for families around the country and rebuilding our economy. And you know, the one thing I’ve always been impressed with about Rahm is that when he has a job to do, he focuses on the job in front of him. And so my expectation is, he’d make a decision after these midterm elections. He knows that we’ve got a lot of work to do. But I think he’d be a terrific mayor.