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President praises pope

"Incredible humility, incredible sense of empathy to the least of these, to the poor. And he's also somebody who's, I think first and foremost, thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away," Obama said in an interview on CNBC.

The president said he also liked that the pope seemed to find good in people, rather than find ways to condemn them.

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"For any religious leader, that's something that's a quality I admire," Obama said. "And I would argue for any leader period, that's a quality that I admire."

The president then transitioned back to the "issues here in Washington," saying it was important to remember that no party had a "monopoly on wisdom."

"The fight that we're having right now is not about the healthcare law, it's not about a particular budget —what it has to do with is do we continue with that process where we have elections, the majorities are determined, there's some protections for minorities in the system, but ultimately, you know, we are able to strike compromises and then move forward," Obama said. "And if we can't do that-- this country's too diverse, it's too big-- you know, what you'll end up seeing is more and more the polarization that you talked about, that's not healthy for our politics."