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CBS's Smith to 'Father-in-Chief' Obama: 'Where Did You Learn to Love?'

In an interview with President Obama geared to Father's Day, CBS's Harry Smith asked the "father-in-chief" about growing up without his own father: "In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?"

The first part of the interview, conducted Friday and shown on CBS's Sunday Morning, focused on Obama's role as "First Dad" as Smith declared: "Maybe it was on election night when we first realized not only would there be a new president but also a new first family. A family with young children...Along with the role of commander-in-chief and leader of the free world, Barack Obama would be First Dad. So, yes, there would be a swing set and, yes, there would be a dog."

Sappy piano music was played in the background as a montage of Obama family photos scrolled across the screen.

Throughout the fawning profile, Smith described a young Barack Obama without a father: "He is everything his own father was not...In his first book, 'Dreams From My Father,' Barack Obama speaks about both the cultivated myth of his father and the cold, hard truth that he was absent by choice." At that point Smith asked: "In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?" Obama replied: "Where I learned, I think, to be a father, was looking at some people that I respected...And it just reminded me that, you know, whatever the hardships, whatever the obstacles, you can be a good dad."

Smith then held up the president as role model to all fathers: "Your whole life is under a microscope now and believe it or not every parent in the country is watching your every move as a parent. Are you aware of that scrutiny?...The First Couple has made being present in their children's lives a top priority. The world can wait til' after Sasha and Malia's soccer or basketball game."

Smith went on to explain what an "old school" dad Obama was: "One thing that stood out to me in your acceptance speech in Chicago when you said..." a clip was played of Obama: "Sasha and Malia, you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House." Smith observed: "You used the word 'earn,' it wasn't 'you get one,' 'you earned it.' You're old school." Obama confessed: "I - we're pretty old school. I mean, we - here in the White House, Malia and Sasha, they have to make their beds. They have to walk the dog. They have to feed the dog. They have to do their homework. They don't watch TV during the week."

The Sunday Morning segment of the interview ended with Smith touting a White House Father's Day event: "Friday afternoon, the White House held a barbecue and town meeting for fathers." Smith also referenced Obama's Father's Day speech during the 2008 campaign: "The importance of fatherhood first echoed in a speech last Father's Day in Chicago. With four of ten children in the United States born to unwed mothers, the President wants it understood it's time for men to man up."

On Monday's CBS Early Show, the fatherhood portion of Smith's interview was re-aired. When the clip finished playing, Entertainment Tonight co-host Lara Spencer, who was filling in as a co-host for the Early Show, remarked: "I just like him more and more. And this interview is so telling." Smith responded: "It is really interesting because they - he really wanted to make sure fatherhood was paid attention to this weekend. So they had this big barbecue and town meeting on Friday. You saw that he took the girls out for ice cream on Saturday. And if you really - if you want to understand this guy, the two books he wrote, the first book, I think, is the most important one...The 'Dreams From My Father.'"

Later on Monday's Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell asked Smith about the interview: "You had covered him a lot as candidate Obama. Did you notice a sense - a difference in him as President Obama?" Smith explained: "The biggest, biggest change is time...really disciplined in terms of the use of his time. In the White House now, you can just feel the drama of every single second." Spencer added: "I can't imagine the pressure." Smith replied: "And his focus - his focus is just phenomenal."

Weatherman Dave Price had an equally fluffy question to ask about the interview: "Is there time for small talk? I mean, I remember back in the days of the campaign, when President - or then, candidate Obama, came out wished you - sang 'Happy Birthday' to you. Is there any time for that? Or is it you're in, you walk in, you sit down, cameras roll, and you go." Smith used the opportunity to tease the final portion of the interview, to be aired on Tuesday's Early Show: "You'll see tomorrow...We're going to use some of the stuff where we're actually unplugging, and some of the best stuff we got was where we were taking the mics off."

Here is the full transcript of the Sunday Morning segment:

9:00AM TEASE:

CHARLES OSGOOD: Let the record show that this is a special Father's Day for two good reasons. For starters, it is the 100th observance since the tradition started in Spokane, Washington back in 1910. And it is a special Father's Day for us because we'll be visiting with the man you might call America's 'father-in-chief.' Harry Smith will be reporting our cover story.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.

HARRY SMITH: When he's not really busy being President of the United States (sappy piano music), he's First Dad to Malia, age 10, and Sasha, age 8.

BARACK OBAMA: Being a part of your child's life is probably the most important thing you can do. Not only for your child, but also for yourself.

SMITH: A White House interview with the 'father-in-chief' later on Sunday Morning.

9:06AM TEASE

OBAMA: The fact is that the absence of fathers has an impact on kids.

OSGOOD: Next, the President of the United States.

9:09AM SEGMENT:

CHARLES OSGOOD: 'Father-in-chief' is not one of the official duties of a U.S. president. So fatherhood was much on the mind of President Obama when he sat down Friday for an exclusive White House interview. Our Father's Day cover story is reported by our friend and fellow dad Harry Smith of the Early Show.

( Cheers and applause )

HARRY SMITH: : Maybe it was on election night when we first realized not only would there be a new president but also a new first family (sappy piano music). A family with young children.

BARACK OBAMA: Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine.

SMITH: Along with the role of commander-in-chief and leader of the free world, Barack Obama would be First Dad (montage of Obama family photos). So, yes, there would be a swing set and, yes, there would be a dog.

OBAMA: We all have to take turns walking the dog.

SMITH: He is everything his own father was not. You wrote about, an entire book, basically, looking for your own identity based on the fact that your father was a myth.

OBAMA: Right. Yeah, no, I mean, he wasn't - he wasn't around. Now I - one of the things I benefitted from was my mother was generous in describing him. And so, even though he wasn't there, I had this sense that he was smart and, you know, hard-working and talented, and so as a young boy I could have a sense that, 'well, my father was an important person.' It was the myth that I was chasing as opposed to knowing who he really was. But - but despite the incredible efforts of my mom, there's no doubt that that still left a hole in me.

OBAMA (From 'Dreams of My Father' book on tape): There was only one problem. My father was missing. And nothing that my mother or grandparents could tell me could obviate that single unasalable fact.

SMITH: In his first book, 'Dreams From My Father,' Barack Obama speaks about both the cultivated myth of his father and the cold, hard truth that he was absent by choice.

OBAMA: My father became a prop in someone else's narrative.

SMITH: Yet in brief and rare encounters, Obama's father passed along certain things the President values to this day.

OBAMA: The incredible importance that the smallest gestures can make by a father. I still remember he gave me my first basketball. I realized that my passionate interest in basketball might have grown out of just that small gesture of him giving me a basketball for Christmas.

(Jazz music playing with footage of Obama playing basketball)

OBAMA: He took me to a jazz concert. And it wasn't until later in life that I realized maybe that's why I got really interested in jazz.

SMITH: And there was Wynton Marsalis, last week in the White House. In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?

OBAMA: Well, I had a mother and grandparents. Where I learned, I think, to be a father, was looking at some people that I respected. Michelle's father was just a wonderful man. I mean here's a guy who had multiple sclerosis at the age of 30. And yet, he went to every one of Michelle's dance recitals, every one of her brothers' basketball games. And it just reminded me that, you know, whatever the hardships, whatever the obstacles, you can be a good dad.

SMITH: Your whole life is under a microscope now and believe it or not every parent in the country is watching your every move as a parent. Are you aware of that scrutiny?

OBAMA: Well, the - there's no scrutiny more powerful than Michelle's scrutiny. So I don't care what other folks are saying. The question is, is my wife and are my kids feeling that I'm there for them?

SMITH: The First Couple has made being present in their children's lives a top priority. The world can wait til' after Sasha and Malia's soccer or basketball game. One thing that stood out to me in your acceptance speech in Chicago when you said, Sasha, Malia:

OBAMA: You have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House.

SMITH: You used the word 'earn,' it wasn't 'you get one,' 'you earned it.' You're old school.

OBAMA: I - we're pretty old school. I mean, we - here in the White House, Malia and Sasha, they have to make their beds. They have to walk the dog. They have to feed the dog. They have to do their homework. They don't watch TV during the week. But, you know, the amazing thing that we've learned - and I think that this is where, again, fathers can make a big difference - is kids thrive on order. They want structure.

BOBBY FLAY: I don't feel like I'm giving you enough work to do.

OBAMA: I know what I'm doing.

FLAY: I know you - see, I knew you'd say that.

SMITH: Friday afternoon, the White House held a barbecue and town meeting for fathers.

OBAMA: Fathers are our first teachers and coaches. They're our mentors. They're our role models. They set an example of success and they push us to succeed. Encourage us when we're struggling. They love us even when we disappoint them. And they stand by us when nobody else will. Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are most dependent on the family.

SMITH: The importance of fatherhood first echoed in a speech last Father's Day in Chicago. With four of ten children in the United States born to unwed mothers, the President wants it understood it's time for men to man up.

OBAMA(Speaking in Chicago in June, 2008): We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn't just end at conception. That doesn't just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child, that makes you a father.

OBAMA(In interview): The fact is that the absence of fathers has an impact on kids, and it's indisputable. You look at the data. Kids without fathers are more likely to have trouble in school, more likely to participate in drugs, more likely to get into trouble and more likely to end up in jail. So across the board, having a father who is present makes a difference. (Sappy piano music with montage of Obama family photos) Being a part of your child's life is probably the most important thing you can do, not only for your child but also for yourself.

SMITH: More of my conversation with President Barack Obama tomorrow on the Early Show.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.