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. Anders Perillo

    Dude's redefining "amateur".

    July 13, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  2. 40acres

    No Mitt, that's not what he said. And it's no surprise that that's all you would get out of this.....afterall who is more of a policy wonk than you. Obama is right, he thought doing the right thing would speak for itself....but it only allowed the Republicans the chance to twist the facts and spread lies. When Obama finally started to come to us (as he should have earlier) and asked for OUR help to move the obstructions in his path he was able to move forward a little. If we keep up our part, that little should become alot. But he's right, he needs to let us know the destination so we can help him navigate and remove whatever obstructions are in our way.

    July 13, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  3. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    On the other hand Romney has nothing to say on his offshore accounts, Behama corporation, his tax returns for the last 10 yrs-Romney is a pathological liar who wants to be President!!! Really Willard-you even lie about your first name.

    July 13, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  4. stephen joe

    Its all well, just hope that God will see you through....alrite. Its painful, you would have put citizen first before politics.

    July 13, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  5. Marty, FL

    Pres. Obama is not perfect, but he is better than the alternative in this election. Hands down.

    I respect the president is willing to admit areas for improvement and remains humble enough to publicly acknowledge it for the American people.

    Obama / Biden 2012

    July 13, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  6. hadeenuff

    'mistake of my first term'?!?!?
    That fact that he's in office was a mistake!

    July 13, 2012 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  7. knmer1808

    Funny, the big mistake was that he DID tell a story – the entire lie that is his past life. It has been proven that he made up parts of his books. His true past, his multiple names (Barry S...) may not be known for the next 30-40 years, if ever.

    July 13, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  8. Capn Kirk

    Does Mitt know what analogy and metaphor are?

    July 13, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  9. JD

    There has been no other President to accomplish what President Obama has accomplished in 3 years. He didn't chase weapons of mass distruction that didn't exist, he brought the number one terrorist to justice! Made America safe again. People in New York can hold their heads high knowing that Bin Laden is dead and gone. Health care for the first time ever finally got a change that was needed years ago! No other President was able to accomplish this! He saved the automobile industry by bailing them out when all the GOP just stood by and said it won't work! The list goes on and on. Romney has no chance with his rich pockets and outsourced jobs. We don't need any more Hollywood Actors or wannabe's in the White House!

    July 13, 2012 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Just when you think this guy couldn't possibly be more incompetent, he comes up with THIS tripe????

    Romney '12... or else we're totally screwed.

    July 13, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  11. bob.bob

    Mitt Romney lead his state to a health care plan that was the blueprint for Obama's national healthcare act... no matter what Mitt says, this is a fact and so how can you trust him to get in there and repeal basically his own bill?

    July 13, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  12. NOMORE OBAMA

    How 'bout spending the first 2 years of your term focusing on expanding the federal government with a massive healthcare package instead of "FOCUSING LIKE A LASER" on fixing the economy and providing incentive for economic growth?
    Sounds like a drone to gain sympathy.

    July 13, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  13. sargesgiftshop.com

    he put policy ahead of EVERYTHING

    July 13, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  14. GROVER NORQUIST IS AN ENEMY OF THE STATE

    I wouldn't call focusing on getting policy right a mistake. It shows that he takes his job seriously. Anyway, can't wait to see the POTUS today at Phoebus.

    July 13, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  15. AmesIA

    Obama is right – insipation matters. Why do you suppose the GOP has marketing specialists in their think tanks to craft a sound-bite catch phrase to for any policy they pitch? How else can you explain "Death Taxes" that benefit no more than 0.01% of the wealthiest in our country and still they get an army of people with 1/10,000th the net worth to passionately fight for it.

    July 13, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  16. SMSUSAF

    The thing with Obama is ne never was a Commander in Chief, we are at WAR and he is playing golf

    July 13, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  17. O-blame-o The Clown

    Oh please, the problem is that you focused solely on your health care bill and neglected the economy. You had both houses of Congress, $800 B in stimulus money, and a mandate from the American people to enact your policy. You have no one to blame but yourself Mr. Obama. The fact is that you failed. Look at the economy now, unemployment still over 8%, lowest work force participation since 1983, and your still employing Keynesian economic principles that DO NOT work. Public sector jobs are a drain on the economy, private sector jobs stimulate growth. This has been the slowest recovery from a recession in the history of the US Mr. Obama, I'm sorry but it's time to let Romney try and see what he can do.

    July 13, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  18. Brian

    IIs that the only mistake he is acknowledging? I thought he would be more specific and list some major mistakes. After reading this post, the acknowledgment is more a strategy to ask for a 2nd chance.

    July 13, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  19. Stuffit

    He says he made a mistake by not talking more? Count the number of times he said the word "I" in his speech telling us he was going to raise taxes last week. He is all talk (about hmsef) and uses it to hide his incompetence, ineptness and corruption.

    July 13, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  20. GI Joe

    Too funny. He didn't need to explain or inspire. I can read, so I did. There is a "searchable" copy of the ACA so I found it (on-line) and took the time to read parts I was interested in (coverage, rates, end of life, etc.).

    Too bad our republican represents don't bother to take the same amount of time I did. Too bad FOX "analysts" didn't bother to take the same amount of time I did. But then, I AM SMART.

    Good job President Obama. Some tweeks are needed, but I'm sold and inspired by READING IT FOR MYSELF. It gives me hope instead of fear. (They always fear the unknown).

    July 13, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  21. Lucky18

    I think Romney couldn;lt be elected dog catcher...Oh, Harry you got there first!

    July 13, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  22. Sum of Squares

    While I am not in favor of every single thing that he has tried to do, I am glad that he tried to actually do some things instead of just giving speeches.

    July 13, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  23. steve hanssen

    the president failed because he would tell congress you go pass this bill and get it on my desk and i will sign it and then he would go golfing and blame congress for not getting anything done. that is not leadership, he should have gotten together with the leaders of congress and worked out a compromise that would have been good for the country and helped with the process. he chose to mock the oppisition and deepen the division, he has been the most devisive president in history the exact oppisite of what he ran on, we need to vote him out asap.

    July 13, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  24. sortakinda

    From that picture it looks like Obama went to Madame Toussaud's.

    July 13, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. Scott

    Ok kids.......Gather around so the President can come down from on high and tell us a story. Wow! Mitt is exactly right-we don't need a President that gives good speeches-we need a President that knows what they are doing. Start packing Barack.

    July 13, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
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