Obama on the 'mistake of my first term'
July 12th, 2012
05:40 PM ET
6 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. CAL USA

    Well Mr. President, it will not matter. As Hillary Clinton put it, if you showed us you can walk on water, the Republicans would say that proves you can't swim. Besides, it's not clear that you can dumb things down enough to get the Tea Partiers to understand them.

    July 12, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. Jon

    Yes, that is all we need ... Mr. Vacation going on more vacations.

    July 12, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. Phil Thomas

    Obama you get my vote, I don't want the president for Hire Mitt Flipney to get the Job. No thanks he has no vision and he changes his mind as frequently as the wind blows. Tax Rates are the lowest they have been in 50 years, common sense dictates it will take a lot longer than 3 years to fix what the GOP has wrought with 20-30 years of bad policy.

    July 12, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. Phil Thomas

    Sorry lowest they have been in 30 years no 50 that was a typo according to the CBO

    July 12, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. T'sah From Virginia

    I agree – Obama may have lacked a little of getting his message out; spending too much time on Health Care, etc., but there is one thing for sure RIGHT NOW, he's no longer a rookie or a community organizer!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    July 12, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. Wmmcpherson

    Unfortunately Mr. President, you have failed on both accounts. You've gotten the policy wrong and the story doesn't ring true with the people. I told my conservative friends go give you a chance. I told them you were smart and maybe you would surprise people. You did surprise people, but it wasn't good. I won't make the same mistake twice.

    July 12, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  7. n2video

    Sounds reasonable to me. The difference between Obama and Romney is that Romney NEVER takes a hard look at himself and would NEVER offer self-criticizm to the public. Very human on Obama's part and I'm glad he said what he did.

    July 12, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. Gambi

    Dear Mr. President,
    We hear you, we support you.
    You faced unbelievable challenges with the financial mess you were handed on day one. You saved us all from the brink of financial disaster and if we all remember correctly you told us all this was going to be a painful process and that it was not going to be quick. I believe to many have forgotten that message. I haven't, I understand, I'm with you. The strength of America is its middle class someone has got to fight the fight and you have and will continue.
    God bless you, your family and the United States of America.
    Gambi, an independent voter

    July 12, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  9. JoAnn

    The American people are the ones that made a mistake.

    It won't happen again!

    July 12, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. glorydays

    A politician admitting a mistake? Stunning!

    July 12, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. Tiz

    I have another legitimate criticism....... we are in debt to our eyeballs thanks to your failed "stimulus" package.

    July 12, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. JoAnn

    The American people are the ones that made a mistake.

    It won't happen again!

    July 12, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Connie in Tennessee

    It's hard to get thru to some people but I think he has tried. If they would just listen and keep an open mind, they would see all that has been accomplished in a short time. Keep up the good work.
    OBAMA 2012!!!!!!

    July 12, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Debby

    Good used car salesman that sold us lemons.

    July 12, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. Pete

    He's a president in training ,just as all the other presidents have been in the past,but with one difference,he hasn't created the catastrophic results the past presidents,mostly republicans have historicly done.Wars,recessions,economic collapse and more,just typical irresponsible behaviour by the ignorent clown circus,the republicans ,Bush symbolizes it you know,he's head clown!!

    July 12, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  16. ClemVinson

    great, re-elect me and I will focus on blowing smoke up your collective a**es....

    who is gonna tell the people that our addiction to oil is killing soldiers and citizens across the globe? who is gonna tell the people that our never-ending debt will leave us beholden to foriegn interests for generations? who will tell the people that without a manufacturing base, we can never have a sustainable, growing economy again?

    Its easy to chit chat with the people, it takes more than a politician can muster to tell the hard truths....

    July 12, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  17. dnokc

    No vision, no leadership, no conviction. Still clueless!

    July 12, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |

    The biggest mistake Obama made during this term was underestimating the Republicans resolve to destroy him and make him a failure at any and all costs even

    July 12, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. Mike500

    The 'mistake' was in 2008 when the American people (or at least the deluded half) elected him.

    July 12, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  20. Jmaz

    His "getting out of this town and spending time with the American people" involves hob-nobbing with the Hamptons crowd; rubbing elbows with the Hollywood "elite" and dashing in and out of glitsy parties.

    July 12, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. Kevin

    Seriously...he has sound policy? Tone deaf, arrogant, and narcissistic is no way to be presidential!

    July 12, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  22. chuck weidemann

    When the people are with you,really with you.....congress will follow. They will have to....so inspire and build a vision and it will happen without so much obstruction ....substance sustains...bs blames!!!!

    July 12, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  23. Feetocracy

    Well don't feel so bad Mr. President. They only mistake made by the guy you replaced was... well... accidently taking the US to war with the wrong country. I would rate that as a little worse than not being inspirational enough.

    July 12, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. Rodney

    Really only took almost 4 years to figure that out.

    July 12, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. FedUp

    Obama does not make mistakes.

    July 12, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
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