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John Kerry: I Don't Think Obama "Takes Enough Credit For Successes"

GWEN IFILL, PBS: Mr. Secretary, the president said in an interview this morning with NPR that, you know, this – you’ve just got to take the balls as they come across the plate. There were a lot of baseball and sports metaphors about blocking and tackling foreign policy to try to get to the next place. Does the president get a bad rap, in your opinion, for being weak or not taking the long homer runs instead of the base hits?

JOHN KERRY: I don’t think the president, frankly, takes enough credit for the successes that are on the table right now.

I mean, if you look at what has happened in Ukraine, the president led an effort to try to keep Europe unified with the United States, to put difficult sanctions on the table. Europe wasn’t thrilled with that but they came along. That was leadership. And the president succeeded in having an impact ultimately, together with the Europeans, on the choices that face President Putin.

In Syria the president, you know, obviously made his decision to strike Syria, and appropriately sent that decision to Congress. Congress didn’t want to move, but we came up with another solution, which was get all of those chemical weapons out rather than just have one or two days of strike. The president has now succeeded in getting 92 percent of those weapons out of Syria. There’s one last transfer that has to take place to get to a hundred percent. I believe it will take place.

In addition, the president has engaged with Iran. We were on a course to absolute collision where they were building a nuclear system and the world was standing opposed to that. But the president put in place a series of sanctions, a capacity to be able to bring Iran to the table. We are now in the middle of negotiations. Everyone will agree the sanctions regime has held together. The weapon – the nuclear program has been frozen and rolled backwards. And we now have expanded the amount of time that Iran might have for a breakout. That’s a success.

So I think we are as engaged, more engaged than in any time in American history, and I think that case is there to be fully proven and laid out. And I think –

GWEN IFILL: Yet that’s not the generally held impression.

JOHN KERRY: No, it’s not. And the reason is there is a general, you know, frankly not fully informed, not factual, conventional sort of process that gets played out in the media. And of course there is an industry in Washington today of oppositionism, oppositionists – oppose anything. And the Congress and its current, you know, pace of legislating tells the whole story.

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