President Obama said in an interview with CBS airing Sunday that honesty was "absolutely necessary" for a president in order to build trust with the American people.
Obama has endorsed his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to succeed him in the White House. In the wake of her private email scandal and the FBI's revelation that she was "extremely careless" with classified material, Clinton's honesty numbers with the public are dismal. The FBI also refuted Clinton's constant claim that she never sent or received classified material on her server, which she has dismissed as a mere "mistake."
"FDR and Lincoln were both talented at letting both sides of an issue think that they agreed with both of them," Face The Nation host John Dickerson said. "Is honesty overrated as a presidential quality?"
"It's interesting," Obama said. "I actually think that honesty is not overrated. I think it is absolutely necessary, because the trust you have with the American people is currency that can get depleted and is hard to build back up.
"What I also believe, though, is that the issues we deal with are so complicated and trying to move all the pieces together to move this huge ocean liner that is the U.S. government means that sometimes holding your tongue, sometimes letting things play themselves out, knowing not just when to act but also when to hold back and see how things are playing out so that you can pick and choose the time to do what needs to be done because the moment may not be ripe yet, those things, I think, are a matter of feel.
"Lincoln and FDR were masters at it. I'm not in their league, but hopefully after seven-and-a-half years, I've gotten a little better at it."