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. FunnyMitt

    Who here really thinks one man, who cannot make a bill, cannot make a law, can't even put people into top jobs without the congress approving everything he wants to do....is the source of our problems? Last I checked, the Congress shoots down almost everything he wants to do, and every person he nominates for a job. I didn't realize our country was doing fantastic, running surpluses, zero unemployment, and no taxes when he took over, and he tanked the country in 3 years...I must have missed that Republican infomercial.

    July 12, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. Donkey Party

    There has never been such a pathetic, lying, whiney, cowardly, nasally sniveling Presidential candidate than Willard Romney. A truly disgusting individual.

    July 12, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  3. jay

    Sure, let's elect another Republican President like Romney so he can promptly rip us a new one just like before.

    July 12, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  4. Hojo

    And Romney thinks he can be a better leader? He doesn't know how to lead, he knows how to listen to what other people tell him to do. That is the definition of following. Romney doesn't care about the average American, he only answers to the people lining his coffers with cash.

    July 12, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. harryinitiative

    He promised to bring home the troops but he didn't. He actually expanded the wars. He's almost no different from Romney. Ron Paul 2012!

    July 12, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. TPF

    That's a 4 year mistake, right? America can't afford another mistake.

    July 12, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. 1Joyce

    "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."

    Yes – I can't think of much that Obama has done to unite this country. He pits the "have nots" against the "haves" constantly. I remember a time when people were looked up to when they were successful (if done legally). Most of them worked very hard to achieve their goals. That should not be demonized – our children should look at them and realize they have a shot at success if they work hard. That is something to be proud of. And if you really look around, most people with money are very giving of their time and resources. Most are really decent people.

    July 12, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. Jeff

    I am a Democrat and I agree with Romney. A story??

    July 12, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  9. big sosa

    best president in america history, period.

    July 12, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  10. big sosa

    re-elect obama

    July 12, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. n

    And Mr. Romney, draft dodger n chief, Mr. I know how the economy works, I can do it, I have done it before, I created jobs. You sound more like the bagger N chief, What company have you created that employed over 500, I thought not . . . Jobs were created in spite of you and your corporate raiders. Most of the jobs you claim, were shipped over seas. You are not leadership material. You Mr. Romney is a big fat phony. Period. You problem is, you never give credit where credit is due. You are too anxious to undercut your president of the country. The very country you claim to love. This is the United States of America, everyone coming together for the good of one nation. Not a republican did anything to help pull this country out of the brink of disaster. And this whole economic mess that we are finally seeing some day light, no thanks to your obstructionist party of "No" I smell sabotage and the sent leads right to the republican leadership hands of chaos. Romney, how can you expect to lead when you can't follow. You and the whole republican party is an embarrassment. Most Americans are decent hard working people. The problem is, some are too busy looking at the trees, that they miss the forest. And that's what you buzzards are counting on. A bunch of dead men walking.

    July 12, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  12. savethechildren

    The US Founders never would have imagined an American elite so corrupt that they would dissolve the people and import a new one. But how about the WHITES? There future?

    How is this not genocide:
    White countries are being flooded by non-whites. We are told to be TOLERANT. We are forced to integrate.

    With assimilation we see the extinction of one race only, the white race. Its not funny, not comedy, its white genocide.

    July 12, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  13. Proud to be a Democrat

    At least Obama's honest to admit his mistakes. That shows he's willing to do better this time around. By the way, for those who think Obama is doing bad, we have to keep in mind is that he's bringing jobs back. Might not be overnight like we want it, but Rome wasn't build in a day.

    July 12, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  14. Mike

    Actually Mitt, i think the faith in Obama is growing. He has made some very tough decisions in the face of a Republican party that will stop at nothing to get him out of office. The messaging was absent, and that was key. What is it that you are doing traveling around the country, making changes – or messaging? You are selling yourself. What Obama stopped doing was selling himself, his ideas, his vision. It's good that he knows that and is starting it up again. I think you are dead wrong that a story is unimportant. Americans need a good story, not just negativity and grandstanding.

    July 12, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  15. Bill in CA.

    Good grief, I wonder what tipped him off...

    July 12, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  16. Candice

    We love you Mr. Obama ! Obama 2012 !

    July 12, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. RightyTighty

    I agree more attention to convincing the american public that socialism is a good thing would have helped.

    July 13, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  18. Anonymous

    FDR said the same thing.

    July 13, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  19. Econosquire

    Mitt Phoney's only knows how to tear down.....he can't BUILD anything.

    July 13, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  20. MCSNZ

    This is what marks the difference between this President and any clown that wants to become the President. Obama was being honest and upfront about certain misgivings in his term and what Romney does is makes it into a big political issue trying to gain some advantage. The funny thing is if you lined all the Presidents together and ask them to put their hand on heart and say what and how they would do something, Obama would come out on top. Not because he is eloquent, because he is honest and he has the right intentions. It is the American political system that has let him down and I guess in some ways the GOP had decided at the very begining that they would do everthing to undermine the office of the President.

    July 13, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  21. Dont get sick becuz i am RICH

    I will vote for Romney any time of the day. Can't wait for him to lower my tax rates and lower the pay of all my employees. $3 dollar an hour is about right for them anyway. Health insurance? What for? If you are not rich, you don't need health insurance. If you are sick? just wait for a kind Christian charity. That's the right way to do it. Amen!

    July 13, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  22. Guest

    If he thought this job was only about getting the policy right, why didn't he get the policy right?

    Which of GW Bush's policies that he continued and expanded were the ones he got right?

    Was it the continuing use of Gitmo, now with a planned $40m communications upgrade?
    Was it the drone strikes, now expanded to unprecedented frequency and allowed to target US citizens who meet some standard of "evilness" that's never been explained?
    Was it the extension of tax cuts for those making more than $250k per year?
    Was it the expansion of the "good" war in Afghanistan to levels beyond GW Bush's term?
    Was it explosion of deficits to reach the largest levels in recorded history?

    I could go on, but this will probably just get trolled by kool-aid drinkers anyway.

    3rd party in 2012! ANY 3rd party!

    July 13, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  23. Balls McGhee

    mitt, Obama has not lost millions of jobs. if anything he will have created a net gain at the time of his reelection. facts dont mean anything to you, but they do to the rest of normal Americans. go back to Bain and send some more jobs overseas, why dont you.

    July 13, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  24. Chris

    It always seems to be that he doesn't communicate well. We just don't understand what he's trying to accomplish on our behalf. Over 8% unemployment for 4 years, doubling the national debt to over $16 trillion, lower housing prices, lower job growth, lower overall per-capita household wealth. Sheesh!! Stop trying to explain things to me man!! I'm no Romney fan, but come on, we can't take another 4 years of this.

    July 13, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  25. Thomas

    Mr President , your mistake was not letting the American people know how bad the Bush administration left the country.

    That wasn't your job , unfortunately your job was to clean it up, People panic and your job was to minimize and stabilize as mess you didn't create.

    The sad thing is those same people want to have another shot at profiting from the financial disaster they brought on to us !

    July 13, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
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