In two television interviews conducted with Barack Obama when he was a candidate for U.S. Senate, the then-Illinois state representative exhibited some of the liberal tendencies Americans have come to recognize in his presidency, along with statements that seem at odds with his later policy decisions, and criticisms of the George W. Bush administration for budget deficits and foreign oil prices far milder than those over which Obama now presides.
“Chicago Tonight,” a production of WTTW-TV11 in Chicago, conducted the interviews in 2003 and 2004. The videos were first made publicly available on YouTube on Friday and Saturday. At the time of the 2003 appearance, Obama was a recent entrant into the Democratic primary race to replace the retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. By the 2004 interview, Obama had already won a landslide primary victory and was just entering the general election season.
On the first tape, Obama addressed “economic security,” a theme that later followed him to the White House. Illinoisans, he said, were “trying to figure out, ‘What am I going to do about the potential layoff? How am I going to pay for my retirement?’”
But then, as now, Obama resisted the idea that cutting taxes on businesses creates American jobs.