NEW YORK – Hey, Barack Obama, just how insane is the process of running for president?
"I think that's part of what people are looking at our campaign to see, just some normalcy and some common sense," he said.
The Illinois senator offered the recent Sunday televised Democratic debate in Iowa as an example. "It's always a shock to the system when Sunday morning you wake up and you're face to face with Mike Gravel" — the crusty former Alaska senator in a long-shot bid for the nomination.
Amid laughter, Obama continued: "So we're preparing and one of my staff said, 'The thing you've got to understand is, this isn't on the level.' And I think that really strikes to what people are frustrated with in politics, is that so much of what we talk about, so much of what we say, it's not true, people know it's not true, all the insiders understand that we're just game-playing — and in the meantime you've got these hugely serious problems, which are true."
Obama suggested that presidential candidates who have been governors have an advantage over those who have been in the Senate, which he described as "paralyzed" and "designed for you to take bad votes."
"A governor is more likely to set the terms of the debate," he said. "They can give a speech, they can say, 'This is my initiative, this is my proposal. I won't sign it unless I agree with it.' Dealing with senators, you end up, you know, having to actually vote on stuff that has no relevance whatsoever but can be used later on to attack you."
Asked if he admired any of the Republican candidates, Obama offered faint praise: "Yeah, I think some of these folks are decent people."
Obama cited only former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by name. Then he criticized the GOP field for "outbidding each other" while arguing that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be expanded rather than closed.
"That kind of stuff, I think, is not serving the Republican Party well and is not going to serve the country well," he said.
Noting that Obama has been criticized for lacking experience, Stewart asked, "Have you thought about running a smaller country first?"
Obama smiled and said, "You know, what I did think about though was invading a smaller country ..." He suggested the island nation of Grenada.