Barack Obama's first appearance as president on CBS' Late Show was marked by some banter with host David Letterman and serious words about policy.
Obama made his case for changing the nation's health care system. He also expanded on comments he made Sunday on CNN about former president Jimmy Carter's assertion that some of the heated criticism directed at him is because of his race.
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"I was actually black before the election," Obama told Letterman. "The American people … gave me this extraordinary honor. That tells you a lot, I think, about where the country is at."
Obama conceded that whenever a president tries to bring about "significant" change, such as with his health care plan, "there is a certain segment of the population that gets riled up."
On Afghanistan, Obama indicated he would not yet make a decision on sending more U.S. troops. "I've got to make sure that the policy in place was worthy of their sacrifice," he said.
In a lighter moment, Letterman quipped that the top reason Obama agreed to appear on the show is that he "wanted to congratulate Dave on the big Emmy win." (The Emmy for best variety show on Sunday went to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.) That segment ended up being cut from the broadcast but was available on CBS' website.
Letterman also asked about first daughters Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8. Obama joked that he worries what will happen when they get older. "I suppose they are going to want to go on dates," he said, "and I'll have all these men with guns around. At that point, they may have some stress."
Obama began his day touting New York's resilience amid the recession, saying better days would be coming with help from his administration. "We must choose to do what past generations have done: shape a brighter future through hard work and innovation," Obama said at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y.