Obama on the 'mistake of my first term'
July 12th, 2012
05:40 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama on the 'mistake of my first term'

(CNN) - President Barack Obama acknowledged in a Thursday interview that he put policy ahead of messaging in his first years as president, and could be more effective at "explaining but also inspiring" if reelected to a second term.

"It's funny – when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job?" Obama said in the CBS News interview. "In my first two years, I think the notion was, 'Well, he's been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where's the story that tells us where he's going?' And I think that was a legitimate criticism."

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In his Thursday interview, Obama acknowledged that he could do a better job on the "inspiration" front.

"The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right," Obama said. "And that's important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."

A second Obama term, he said, would involve "getting out of this town, spending more time with the American people, listening to them and also then being in a conversation with them about where do we go together as a country."

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney issued a statement in response, saying, "President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story. Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. No wonder Americans are losing faith in his presidency."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    Whatever your faults Mr. President – you did well enough to deserve a 2nd term in my opinion and compared to the felon / liar running against you – I predict you'll be just fine.

    Looking forward to another four years from California.

    July 12, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. denroy

    I think people want action on jobs not speeches off a teleprompter to be honest

    July 12, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    I trust this president than any GOP idiots. Healthcare Reform passed, so is fin. Reg. reform. Both the needed ones. True.

    July 12, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. SafeJourney

    Trying to compormise with the obstructionist repubs was a big mistake

    July 12, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. PresidentMitt2012

    "In my first two years, I think the notion was, 'Well, he's been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where's the story that tells us where he's going?' And I think that was a legitimate criticism."

    For once I agree......

    July 12, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. PresidentMitt2012

    "In my first two years, I think the notion was, 'Well, he's been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where's the story that tells us where he's going?' And I think that was a legitimate criticism."

    I agree

    July 12, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    as much as I support the president I really think he should have spent MORE time focused on jobs than going after healthcare. The healthcare law was a great achievement but he also allowed the GOP to race out in front of him and distort the law so much that many Americans either didn't understand it or now what it really offered until too late and the Republicans had already told them not to like it and many didn't but really didn't know WHY they didn't like it. Had he gone for building more jobs and worked on HC even if it took him a second term to do it I think he his numbers and the job numbers would be much higher. Then again it also takes more than a do-nothing Congress to get things done in DC as well. Obama is a great speaker but doesn't really explain a lot of what he is trying to do to the common American that has less than a high school or college education and he needs to work on that.

    July 12, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. works4me

    I'll never make the same mistake I made on the last election...
    actually considering McCain... until Palin came along. Thanks Sarah for making me see the light!!
    Obama 2012

    July 12, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  9. lifedream

    Way to go Mr. President! I am with you and think you are doing a great job even with the headwinds you have faced.

    July 12, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  10. Silence DoGood

    " ...where do we go together as a country."

    I have a suggestion about where NOT to go as a country. How about not go to Libya (biggest OIL in Africa) again and kill a bunch of people and not send robot drones to kill a few 1000 people in the hopes of getting a handful of terrorist leaders.

    How about NOT continuing the US military adventurism? How much could that same money do here at home?

    July 12, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Don't Quit before the Miracle !

    We have made it through harder times , we will make it better !

    July 12, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. Greg Kells

    Why does this sound like a guy in a job interview saying his weakness is being too committed to work? If you ask anyone else what mistakes he's made, I doubt they'd have the same answer.

    July 12, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  13. EricMD

    You give a good speech? You don't write your speeches. You use the teleprompter everywhere you go. All we can conclude is that you can read.

    July 12, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Bush the shrub said he could not think of anything that he did wrong during his presidency. Obama's big mistake was that he actually thought that republicans cared about America.

    July 12, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. lib

    President Obama, the mistake you made at the beginning of your first term was thinking that the Republicans were your friends and would be willing to meet you while you tried to reach across the aisle. In your second term, the American people will try and get you a better congress to work with. God Bless!

    July 12, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens took a lot of tax payer money to save the olympics. It appears that Mittens took a lot of free stuff himself, and he should also take his own advice and vote for the other guy.

    July 12, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. Patriot

    And Mr. President you will be very welcome in my home.
    So looking forward to your reelection and an end to the Republican circus.

    July 12, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  18. Ray In Phoenix

    "Getting out of this town..."? Are you kidding? 17 vacations, 100 golf outings, 180 fundraisers, and he ways he needs to get out of town more? Pahleeeeze. Besides, his failure was in the substance of his policies, not a failure to sell the policies to the American people. We fully understand his policies and their failures. No amount of "selling" or "explaining" can cover up the failures of his policies. He really doesn't get it.

    July 12, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. Myviewis

    Okay, in his own words he is a rookie, at least he recognizes it!!!!. True, good speeches, still giving good speeches but he can't do the job, he is in over his head and he knows it. He says a 2nd term would involve going out of that town, being in a conversation about where do we go together as a country, isn't his what he's been doing for 3 1/2 years???? He should know the answer to this by now, he is the leader. He doesn't have a plan for the 2nd term???? We're looking at high unemployment, small businesses are in trouble and he thinks the solution is to go out to be in a conversation to see where we are going???? What is going to happen to all those people in unemployment???? This is really, really bad. Inspiration???? that will bring jobs??? Seriously??? Inspiration, wow, this coming from a guy that is anti-small businesses and wants to tax us, squeeze us until we have nothing left.

    July 12, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. Mark

    He gets my vote. I'd like to see any Republican say anything close. They don't even apologize for the horrible things they say, they just try to erase them.

    July 12, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    I've got your back, Mr. President! Keep getting the word out to Democrats and Independents. The Repubs are all caught up in their loyalty tests which take them beyond reason and enable their party in trying to bring you and our country down.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice.

    July 12, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. ReeferPower

    Obama said "the mistake of my first term".....he is finally admitting his term was a mistake.

    July 12, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  23. Justin

    Obama is still trying to figure out what America wants and he said if reelected he will start asking? I think you are four years too late with that one buddy!

    July 12, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. TJ

    What a joke....lol.

    July 12, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Michael53

    A second Obama term, he said, would involve "getting out of this town, spending more time with the American people, listening to them and also then being in a conversation with them about where do we go together as a country."...When he comes to California, the only ones he wants to spend time with, and listen to are the high rollers in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Hollywood. He has yet to visit the Central Valley to see the unemployment which is double the rest of the nation, to see the results of the failed economic policies which now cause high rates of crime in our area.

    July 12, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
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