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Leadership According to Obama and Romney

The presidential candidates go head-to-head on the essential traits of a leader.
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President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney tackled this election cycle's hot-button issues--from job creation to tax cuts--in separate 60 Minutes interviews that aired Sunday night.

But besides meticulous planning and a command of policy details, what else does it take to run the country? The candidates candidly shared their thoughts on the requirements for a commander-in-chief. (We've got the highlights here; scroll down to watch the longer video segments.)

On must-have leadership quality

Romney: "People have to look at that person and say, 'I may disagree with them. But I know where they stand. And I can trust them.'  A leader has the capacity of vision, the ability to see where things are headed before people in general see those things."

Obama: "The one thing that I'm always struck by is persistence. It's a quality that's underrated. Being able to plow through, being able to stay buoyant in the face of challenges. That's a characteristic of the American people. I think our best presidents are able to tap into that resilience and that strength and that grit."

On past presidents they admire

Romney: "I enjoy reading David McCullough's writings. My favorite book is perhaps of a biographical nature--his book on John Adams ... who helped guide the process of writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution ... We saw in him an individual who was less concerned about public opinion than he was about doing what he thought was right for the country." 

Obama: "Leadership more than anything is about setting a course and describing a vision for people ... Abraham Lincoln understood that we were a single union. It took a bloody Civil War and terrible hardship and sacrifice to achieve that vision. And that vision wasn't even fully realized until after he was gone. What I try to do is to constantly present a vision of America in which everybody's got a shot, everybody's treated with respect and dignity."

On downtime

Romney: I think about the coming day and think about what I want to accomplish. I pray. Prayer is a time to connect with the divine, but also time to concentrate one's thoughts, to meditate and to imagine what might be. 

Obama: I do some reading, I do some writing. There are times where I sit on the Truman Balcony and it's as good of a view as you get, with the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Monument Memorial set back behind that. Those are moments of reflection that help gird you for the next challenge and the next day.

On American values

Romney: "Freedom ... That has brought people here from all over the world. I want people to come here, legally to want to be here. I want the best and brightest to say America's the place of opportunity because of the freedom there to pursue your dreams."

Obama: "If people work hard in this country, they can get ahead. That's the central American idea. That's how we sent a man to the moon--because there was an economy that worked for everybody and that allowed us to do that. I think what Americans properly are focused on right now are just the bread-and-butter basics of making sure our economy works for working people. And if we can accomplish that, there's no bigger idea than that."




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