Washington (CNN) – President Obama promised Wednesday that Democrats will not "jam" a health care bill through Congress and will wait until Republican Scott Brown takes his seat in the Senate before moving ahead.
"Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table: The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," the president told ABC News. "The people in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process."
Obama said the tide that swept Brown into office Tuesday reflected a broader discontent in the country about the troubled economy, but he said comprehensive health care reform should not be defeated as a result.
"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," Obama said. "People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."
In a candid assessment of his political standing one year after his inauguration, the president admitted that the White House needs to do "a better job" of connecting with the American people in its second year. According to a new CNN Poll of Polls released Wednesday, 51 percent of Americans approve of Obama's performance as president, while 42 percent say they disapprove of the job he's doing.
"If there's one thing that I regret this year, it is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values," Obama said.
The president also said he needs to do a better job explaining the rationale behind some of the policy decisions being made in Washington. Not communicating his reasoning behind those decisions, he said, was "a mistake."
"I think, you know, what [the American people] ended up seeing is this feeling of remoteness and detachment where there's these technocrats up here making decisions," he said. "Maybe some of them are good, maybe some of them aren't, but do they really get us and what we're going through?"
On the topic of health care, the president said "it is very important to look at the substance of this package and for the American people to understand that a lot of the fear mongering around this bill isn't true."
He said he believes Democrats and Republican can agree on certain elements in health care reform legislation, specifically lowering insurance costs.
"I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on," the president said.