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The 2012 TIME Person of the Year: President Barack Obama


Plus: Exclusive Interviews with Obama, Tim Cook and Mohamed Morsi

New York — Today, TIME names President Barack Obama the 2012 TIME Person of the Year. In an exclusive interview with TIME, Obama discusses the economy, his reelection and legacy. Plus, TIME has the first look at four official White House photos, including one of Obama writing his Newtown speech while watching Sasha Obama’s ballet rehearsal this past Sunday. TIME also shot exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and a rare portrait of the President. Read the stories and see the photos, cover and videos now on and tablet and on newsstands Friday, December 21. #poy2012

For the sixth year in a row, TIME names a Person of the Year shortlist — No. 2 Malala Yousafzai, No. 3 Tim Cook, No. 4 Mohamed Morsi, No. 5 Fabiola Gianotti — each of which will be featured for the first time on four additional covers inside the magazine. Plus, this year’s TIME Person of the Year cover features a silver border — only the fourth cover in TIME’s 89-year history without the trademark red border.

See the Obama Person of the Year cover:

See new and never-before-seen photos shot by White House photographer Pete Souza:

See exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from TIME Contributing photographer Callie Shell:

EDITOR RICK STENGEL ON TIME’S SELECTION OF OBAMA AS TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR: “Obama is the first Democratic President since FDR to win more than 50% of the vote in consecutive elections and the first President since 1940 to win re-election with an unemployment rate north of 7.5%. He has stitched together a winning coalition and perhaps a governing one as well. His presidency spells the end of the Reagan realignment that had defined American politics for 30 years. We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America…. For finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union, Barack Obama is TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year.”

TIME EXCLUSIVE: OBAMA TELLS TIME OF HIS RE-ELECTION, “2012 may have been more satisfying a win than 2008…. I think it was easy to think that maybe 2008 was the anomaly, and I think 2012 was an indication that, no, this is not an anomaly. We’ve gone through a very difficult time. The American people have rightly been frustrated at the pace of change, and the economy is still struggling, and this President we elected is imperfect, and yet, despite all that, this is who we want to be. That’s a good thing.”

On a new Obama-era coalition: “There are a couple of forces at work here. There is the much-noted demographic shift in this society, and that obviously was reflected in this election…. One of the things that I’m very proud of during my first four years is I think I’ve helped to solidify this incredibly rapid transformation in people’s attitudes around LGBT issues—how we think about gays and lesbians and transgender persons…. And so, there are those attitudinal shifts that make up this new coalition as well. For all the divisions that you read about in our politics –– and many of them are real and powerful –– the truth is, is that we have steadily become a more diverse and tolerant country that embraces people’s differences, and respects people who are not like us. And that’s a profoundly good thing.”

On his legacy: “What I’d want people to say is that having come in at a time when our economy was on the brink of collapse, when we had gone through a decade in which middle-class families were doing worse and worse, and the ladders of opportunity into the middle class for people who were willing to work hard had begun to deteriorate; at a time when, internationally, we were embroiled in two wars but our leadership around the world was being questioned, that we had steered this ship of state so that we once again had an economy that worked for everybody; that we had laid the foundation for broad-based prosperity; and that internationally we had created the framework for continued American leadership in the world throughout the 21st century.”

On keeping a diary: “In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are; that there’s –– that the process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions. And going back to Lincoln, probably part of the reason he’s my favorite President is he’s also one of the best writers in American history. But you see the power of his writing evolve and shape what his policies are. He has to work through things. How does he think about slavery? How does he think about union? How does he think about the Constitution? How does he think about the role of popular opinion? All these things are just completely formed at the start of his political career.”

TIME White House Correspondent Michael Scherer: “Obama begins his second term with a better sense of what is possible in his job as well as what is not…. He has earned the right to set that direction and has learned from experience how to move the country. After four of the most challenging years in the nation’s history, his chance to leave office as a a great President who was able to face crises and build a new majority coalition remains within reach.”

TIME Editor Rick Stengel: “Our Person of the Year interview, which took place before the dreadful shootings in Connecticut, showed a more forceful Obama, a President thinking about the next four years and his legacy and willing to use his capital in a second term. After all, he will never have to run for office again, never have to say the words ”I approved this message"

Go behind the TIME cover photo shoot:

Watch exclusive interviews with Obama campaign’s digital staff:


TIME’s Aryn Baker: “In trying, and failing, to kill Malala, the Taliban appear to have made a crucial mistake. They wanted to silence her. Instead, they amplified her voice…. Her primary cause — securing Pakistani girls’ access to education— has served to highlight broader concerns: the health and safety of the developing world’s children, women’s rights and the fight against extremism…. If Malala decides to continue her crusade, hers will be a platform backed with financial means and wired with well-connected allies.”

Former First Lady Laura Bush tells TIME, “She’d be great as both a fundraiser and a public speaker.”


In an exclusive interview with TIME, Cook talks about the leadership differences between himself and Steve Jobs: “I decided from negative time zero—a long time before he talked to me about his decision to pass the CEO title—that I was going to be my own self. That’s the only person that I could do a good job with being.”

On Apple in 2012: “It’s the most prolific year of innovation ever. If you went back and were to watch a compressed movie of it, it’s amazing the products that have come out.”

On China: “It’s a huge market with huge potential, with an enormous emerging middle class that really wants Apple products. I think it will be our largest market, over time.”


TIME’s Bobby Ghosh: “On becoming Egypt’s first democratically elected leader on June 30, Morsi included non-Islamists in his Cabinet, ignored religious extremists’ calls for restrictions on secular liberties, curbed the power of the military and refrained from populist economic policies. He even quit his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood to strengthen his claim to represent all Egyptians… For all his troubles at home, Morsi remains the Middle East’s most influential figure. He alone has the clout to keep Hamas in line with the cease-fire agreement; having brokered the deal, he now has the responsibility to ensure that the Palestinian group refrains from firing rockets into Israel. Egypt, along with Turkey, continues to press for an end to the slaughter in Syria and will play an important role in shaping any post-Assad transition. A more assertive Egypt can also be a stabilizing counterweight to Iran’s ambitions in the region. And Morsi’s handling of his country’s constitutional crisis will provide pointers for all the other Arab Spring states—and any aspiring to join their ranks—on the real prospects for Islamist democracy.”


TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger on Gianotti, who headed one of the experiments that confirmed the Higgs boson, “It was Gianotti who perhaps received the most attention, principally for her leadership role and her manifest gifts but occasionally for a reason as predictable as it is misguided: her gender. Physics is a male-dominated field, and the assumption is that a woman has to overcome hurdles and face down biases that men don’t.”

On the Higgs triumph, Gianotti tells TIME, “It’s not only a great scientific endeavor but a unique human adventure. Working with so many people from all over the world is extremely enriching and stimulating.”

Also in this issue:

Fareed Zakaria on Obama’s Foreign Policy

Joel Stein on His Pick for the “Coolest Person of the Year”- Lena Dunham:

Joe Klein’s Annual Teddy Awards

Tributes including Joe Biden on Arlen Specter, Herbie Hancock on Dave Brubeck, Brian Williams on Mike Wallace, Ryan Seacrest on Dick Clark, Jennifer Hudson on Whitney Huston, Tony Kushner on Maurice Sendak, Tom Daschle on George McGovern, Meg Wolitzer on Nora Ephron, and More…

The December 31, 2012 Person of the Year issue of TIME goes on sale on news stands Friday, December 21 and is available on tablets now.


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