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Obama tells Rutgers student paper: Republican Party 'increasingly ideological and extreme'

By
Eric DuVall
President Barack Obama makes a surprise visit to journalism students participating in a college reporter day next to Press Secretary Josh Earnest on April 28. The editor of the Rutgers University student paper asked Obama for an exclusive interview. Pool Photo by Andrew Harrer/UPI
President Barack Obama makes a surprise visit to journalism students participating in a college reporter day next to Press Secretary Josh Earnest on April 28. The editor of the Rutgers University student paper asked Obama for an exclusive interview. Pool Photo by Andrew Harrer/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- After being pinned down by a reporter during a college newspaper event at the White House, President Barack Obama granted an interview with the Rutgers University student paper this week, assailing Republican obstructionism and predicting a "corrective" for the party after the 2016 election.

Sitting presidents rarely grant interviews to student newspapers, but this one with The Daily Targum, came about after its editor, Dan Corey, made the bold request when he was face-to-face with the president last month.

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Corey was part of a contingent of college journalists who were invited to the White House as part of an event highlighting student reporters. The students were granted a gaggle with Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Obama dropped in on the proceedings and opened himself up to questions.

Corey was first to be called on, and reminded Obama he would be traveling to New Jersey to deliver the school's commencement address.

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"Well, in light of the news of you speaking at our commencement, I was wondering, would you be interested in being interviewed by our newspaper?" Corey asked.

"That's good use of your time, right there," Obama joked. "I have to say that normally I coordinate carefully with my press team before we grant interviews, but I am favorably disposed towards giving you a little bit of time. It may not be a really long interview, but I figure we can give the college newspaper a little bit of play."

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On Monday, Obama made good on the promise.

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During the ensuing telephone interview, which lasted about 15 minutes, Corey asked Obama what more he could have done to overcome Washington's partisan gridlock.

Obama said he's been "willing to compromise" with Republicans, but that it has not been reciprocated.

"The issue here has never been both sides stuck in a corner, unwilling to meet in the middle. The challenge has been a Republican Party that has become increasingly ideological and extreme, and I think that's reflected in the current presidential race," Obama said. "Now the good news is that political parties go through these moments, and there are a lot of good people out there who are Republicans who don't recognize the direction that the party is taking. My sense is that there will be a corrective at some point, perhaps after this next presidential election."

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