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Obama: Stimulating economy top priority

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  • Help for auto industry "can't be a blank check," Obama tells "60 Minutes"
  • Obama and wife Michelle discuss impact of election victory on the family
  • Obama also outlines his priorities, including the economy and the Iraq war
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(CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama said stimulating the economy is a top priority -- even if it means adding to the nation's growing deficit.

Barack Obama, joined by his wife Michelle, discusses his priorities and the impact of the election on his family.

"I think what's interesting about the time that we're in right now is that you actually have a consensus among conservative Republican-leaning economists and liberal left-leaning economists. And the consensus is this: that we have to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving again, that we're gonna have to spend money now to stimulate the economy," Obama told CBS' "60 Minutes" in his first post-election interview which aired Sunday.

"And that we shouldn't worry about the deficit next year or even the year after," he continued. "That short term, the most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession."

He said his goals would be to restore consumer confidence and re-regulate the financial market. His first legislative goal is to pass an economic stimulus package. He added that the potential collapse of the auto industry would be "a disaster" amid today's economic crisis.

"It's my belief that we need to provide assistance to the auto industry," Obama told veteran correspondent Steve Kroft. "But I think that it can't be a blank check."

The Senate is expected to vote this week on emergency loans to the auto industry, though the measure faces strong opposition from many Republicans. The bill would authorize loans to the auto industry from the Treasury Department's $700 billion fund to bail out the financial services industry.

Detroit auto executives are scheduled to plead their case in public hearings in the House and Senate.

Obama, joined by his wife Michelle, discussed the impact of the election on his family, as well as his priorities, including the economy, the Iraq war and other challenges he faces.

"I will say that the challenges that we're confronting are enormous," he says. "And they're multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, 'Where do I start in terms of moving -- moving things forward?'

"And I think that part of this next two months is to really get a clear set of priorities, understanding we're not going be able to do everything at once, making sure the team is in place, and moving forward in a very deliberate way and sending a clear signal to the American people that we're going to be thinking about them and what they're going through."

Another top priority: "Stamp out al Qaeda once and for all."

"I think capturing or killing bin Laden is a critical aspect of stamping out al Qaeda," Obama said. "He is not just a symbol, he's also the operational leader of an organization that is planning attacks against U.S. targets.

He reiterated his pledge to shut down the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officials close to the Obama team have told CNN that the incoming administration is pondering whether to try some of the Guantanamo Bay inmates in existing federal courts; set up a special national security court to deal with cases involving the most sensitive intelligence information; or release others.

"I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo and I will follow through on that, I have said repeatedly that American doesn't torture, and I will make sure that we don't torture, and I am going to make sure we don't torture, those are part and parcel of efforts to regain America's moral stature," Obama said in the "60 Minutes" interview.

Obama, spending the last two weeks with his transition team in Chicago, Illinois, said he'll announce his Cabinet selections "soon." He confirmed that he's spoken to former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton recently, but wouldn't comment on whether she will be a member of his Cabinet.

On a personal note, Obama, sitting next to his wife, said he's still adjusting to "the loss of anonymity" that comes with being the next U.S. president.

"That's something I'll ever get used to, the loss of anonymity, and this is not a complaint, it's part of what you sign up for ... but being able to wonder around the neighborhood -- I can't go to my own barbershop now, I have to have my barber come to some undisclosed location to cut my hair," Obama said.

Michelle Obama said she's not sure whether the reality of moving into the White House has "really sunk in."


"But I remember, we were watching the returns and, on one of the stations, Barack's picture came up and it said, 'President-Elect Barack Obama. ' And I looked at him and I said, 'You are the 44th President of the United States of America. Wow. What a country we live in.'"

Added Obama: "Yeah. Yeah. And then she said 'Are you gonna take the girls to school in the morning?' "

All About Barack Obama

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