From NBC's Mark Murray
While NBC's Brian Williams spoke with McCain in an interview that will air tonight on Nightly News, Obama appeared on TODAY with NBC's Matt Lauer this morning.
On Iran's missile test: "Well, I think we've got to gather up all of the intelligence necessary with the situation. But there's no doubt that we're seeing rising tensions in the area. And it's part of the reason why it's so important for us to have a coherent policy with respect to Iran. It has to combine much tougher threats of economic sanctions with direct diplomacy, opening up channels of communication, so that we avoid provocation but we give the strong incentives for the Iranians to change their behavior. We've got to have the kind of aggressive diplomacy that unfortunately has been absent over the last several years. If we don't, then we're going to continue to see rising tensions that could lead into real problems."
On perceptions that he's flip-flopping, as the New York Times' Bob Herbert recently argued: "Let's take some of the examples that Mr. Herbert cited. My support of faith-based initiatives, that's something I've been talking about for two years. When it comes to my belief, for example, that it is appropriate to apply the death penalty in narrow circumstances when there have been heinous crimes like the rape of a child, that is not something that is new."
On whether he understands that supporters are nervous that Obama might be changing his position on Iraq: "Actually, I don't, Matt, because that's what I've been saying all along, that I would, obviously, listen to commanders. But as commander in chief, I would be setting strategy. And I have not changed from my position that we can have our troops out at a pace of one to two brigades per month, which adds up to 16 months."
On the Access Hollywood interview that featured his two daughters: "You know, I think that we got carried away in the moment. We were having a birthday party and everybody was laughing, and suddenly this thing cropped up. And I didn't catch it quickly enough. And I was surprised by the attention it received, as well... We wouldn't do it again, and we won't be doing it again."