Transcript via The White House:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Do you believe that Turkey is doing enough to strengthen its northwest border with Syria? How is it that a NATO country with as large a military as Turkey has, has not sealed its border? And is that something that you raised today with President Erdogan?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Just with respect to my successor, let me, first of all, say that I’m anticipating a Democrat succeeding me. (Laughter.) I’m confident in the wisdom of the American people on that front.
But even if somebody from a different party succeeded me, one of the things that you find is when you’re in this job, you think about it differently than when you’re just running for the job. And what you realize is what I mentioned earlier, that American leadership involves not just playing to a narrow constituency back home, but you now are, in fact, at the center of what happens around the world, and that your credibility and America’s ability to influence events depends on taking seriously what other countries care about.
Now, the fact of the matter is there’s a reason why you have the largest gathering of world leaders probably in human history here in Paris. Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously. They think it’s a really big problem. It spans political parties. You travel around Europe, and you talk to leaders of governments and the opposition, and they are arguing about a whole bunch of things — one thing they’re not arguing about is whether the science of climate change is real and whether or not we have to do something about it.
So whoever is the next President of the United States, if they come in and they suggest somehow that that global consensus — not just 99.5 percent of scientists and experts, but 99 percent of world leaders — think this is really important, I think the President of the United States is going to need to think this is really important. And that’s why it’s important for us to not project what’s being said on a campaign trail, but to do what’s right, and make the case.
The reality is that there is only one presidential candidate who comprehends the enormity of the job of being president, and that is Hillary Clinton. President Obama was correct about the rest of the candidates in both parties. He seemed to be speaking from a bit of personal experience. The leap from governor or senator to president is gigantic. The leap from never holding public office to the White House is a disaster waiting to happen.
The next president will need to deal with global challenges. He or she will have to work with other countries and governments. When one looks at both the candidates and electoral map demographics, Democrats have a clear advantage. There isn’t a single candidate in the Republican field who looks capable of flipping enough of the states that Obama won to give Republicans the White House.
Democratic voters understand that the gains of the last eight years are on the line next year. While Republicans squabble among themselves, Democrats are unified and working towards the common goals of keeping the White House and taking back the Congress. There is a lack of complacency among Democrats, and President Obama’s strong political leadership in the fourth quarter of his presidency is on one of the main reasons why Democrats are ready for 2016.