Obama on Putin, Pies and GITMO

Here's more from President Obama's interview this morning with the Associated Press's Jennifer Loven:

On Russia, Obama was asked why he plans to meet with former Russian President Vladimir Putin in addition to talks with current leader Dmitry Medvedev. "(Putin) still has a lot of sway…and I think that it's important that even as we move forward with President Medvedev that Putin understand that the old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated — that's it's time to move forward in a different direction," Obama told the AP. ""I think Medvedev understands that. I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new, and to the extent that we can provide him and the Russian people a clear sense that the U.S. is not seeking an antagonistic relationship but wants cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation, fighting terrorism, energy issues, that we'll end up having a stronger partner overall in this process."

Also on foreign policy, Obama said he was "not reconciled" with the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons. The president also expressed some reservations about his recently announced policy of putting some high risk Guantanamo Bay detainees in "indefinite detention" as the administration moves to close the prison next year. "It gives me huge pause," Obama said, suggesting he may not follow through on the policy.

In perhaps his most interesting comments, Obama weighed in on the Supreme Court's ruling on affirmative action this week, in which it decided in favor of a group of white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., who sued the city for reverse discrimination. The ruling overturned a verdict laid down by an Appeals Court judge named Sonia Sotomayor. (Maybe you've heard of her.) SCOTUS, Obama said, was "moving the ball" on affirmative action, but he noted that the court had ruled out the use of racial preferences in hiring. Still, he spoke sympathetically toward the white firefighters, telling Loven, "I've always believed that affirmative action was less of an issue or should be less of an issue that it has made out to be in news reports."

In addition to the Michael Jackson comments, Obama also weighed in on life at the White House. His biggest pet peeve: having to wear make-up all the time. "The shine police," he groused. On the plus side, he raved about the White House pastry chef, who "makes the best pie I've ever tasted."