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. Jandrzej

    OMG! His record is now clearly explained he has not communicated with the American people enough!! How pathetic... Maybe he can go talk to Joe the Plumber!

    July 13, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. Concerned4Fla

    Keep up the good work Mr. President.
    Obama/Biden 2012!

    July 13, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  3. neogeo

    Mittens, so bitter.

    July 13, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. Enough is Enough

    The problem is Obama's stories work best for unions, trial lawyers, and illegals.

    July 13, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  5. Daniel D Janson

    This message i will assume is for the religious vote. This guy does not miss a political beat, but the country needs leadership. Wonder if he was talking to his ex-pastor?

    July 13, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  6. steveareeno

    Our President just does not understand that his big mistack was wasting time on a health care bill when what was really needed was jobs. He should have been on that from day one. So for this election we have a choice between someone who does not understand the problems the working class are facing, and someone who doesn't care what problems the working class are facing. Some choice!

    July 13, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  7. steveareeno

    Sorry, mistake.

    July 13, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  8. Rags

    GObama! Hire Rmoney as a street cleaner.

    July 13, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. cedar rapids

    Funny but all the repubs spend their time moaning about the president not coming forward and saying more, explaining more, keeping people informed etc etc and now they want to say being president is not about talking and explaining.

    I know haters have to hate but make your mind up guys, seriously.

    July 13, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  10. Wake up people

    His first mistake was underestimating the level of hatred the rethuglican party had for him. His 2nd mistake was him believing they all wanted the same thing, to see the American people prosper, thinking he could bring everyone together. They sure showed him. Those very same people the President wanted to work with turned around a made a pact to not work with him and make him a one term President. I'm sure he never in his wildest dreams thought members of Congress would allow our credit rating to drop or that they would say NO to EVERYTHING he proposed to move our country forward. I feel you President Obama, call me dumb but I didn't think it would be that bad.

    God bless President Obama and the first family, please Lord keep them safe.
    And to the idiot bagger that wants to see the President's transcripts, he has shown u idiots enough. Now the American people deserve to see Mittens tax records though.

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 13, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  11. Rico

    Hilarious. This is like a job interview when they ask you your weakness and you spin it into a strength. Gee, my weakness is that I'm just too perfect and I didn't tell you enough about it. Pitiful.

    July 13, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. Walter Jenny

    Not a thing wrong with honesty. I appreciate that in a leader who's always under the spotlight. He doesn't need any advice from Mitt Romney on how to lead.

    July 13, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  13. anagram_kid

    He is correct, but not touting accomplishments is his nature. This is what overachievers do; they set a goal, make and execute a plan and then move on to the next challenge. I do agree that he needs to be more vocal about what he and his administration have done. The down side to this is that the people that despise him for being successful will be made to feel even more inferior and will hate him more. But then again, if they were not blaming him for their failings, they would find someone else to blame.

    July 13, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  14. edpeters101

    He has learned the biggest lesson of all leaders.. It doesn't matter how good your ideas are, if you don't explain it to the people who you are leading, they won't follow! And with a media that lives on sound-bites and "quipy" anecdotes you have to get you message out 'simply', 'early' and 'OFTEN'. Of course the media would also help if they did a little bit of fact checking prior to broadcast, something that used to be done before the "Great Race to Broadcast" began!

    July 13, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I am so grateful to my God that he gave YOU as our President during a time of almost economic collapse world-wide, and tumultous poltical instability in many countries that did not view us with goodwill.
    You proved yourself to be an indefatigable, tenacious, committed and effective multi-tasker which is exactly what we needed. Not someone, a la McCain, that could only attend to one thing at a time.
    God will continue to walk with you Mr. President.
    You've done RIGHT by this country in spite of personal insults, backstabbing support, and outright obstruction, and He will continue to do right by you.
    Obama 2012.

    July 13, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  16. Tyrone, Schenectady NY

    You see how your side has nothing to stand on. you are actually asking for College transcripts????? So let's see our last POTUS wasa C student are expecting anything less? I never heard you all ask for his transcripts.

    July 13, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Gurgyl

    Bain capital shipped jobs to CHINA and now talking like a drunkard!!! Obama12.

    July 13, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  18. FLIndependent

    It's truly amazing how the opposition can spin & twist the President's words and meaning. Guess that goes with the campaign but it's getting very tiresome. Even the pundits don't give the whole story. When the Healthcare Bill was being debated we heard that the Dems weren't out there with the messaging, so the President is now acknowledging that and he's getting criticized for it. I remember during his first six months or so, he was on TV quite a lot to explain his policies to the people and his handlers were being criticized for over exposure of the President. Please tell me how our President can be over exposed. As far as I'm concerned he should be talking to us as often as possible! So, you see, no matter what President Obama did, he was criticized for it....always in a no win situation. I find it honorable that he's doing some self-reflection and his humanity is being EXPOSED. This does not make him weak in any sense and indicates that he knows what he has to do to communicate better. FORWARD 2012!!!

    July 13, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  19. Henry Edwards

    Unity? Obama said Unity? The biggest mistake he has made for us is getting elected. Anyone that would vote for him is either uniformed, getting a free check, stupid or all three. The biggest shame is the black voters out there cannot see what he doing to them. What West said about keeping them in slavery is an astute analysis. I am a registered Democrat and he is the biggest liar, most devisive, spin doctor I have ever seen. More and more democrats I talk to feel the same way. Romney will likely win in a landslide. In fact he will. There cannot be that many people out there that would vote for more of the last four years.

    July 13, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  20. James, AL

    Mitt Romney is still playing the "bully". He still try to pull the other guy down by pouncing on him, rather than by being dignified and explaining his difference. Having read the stories of him in college and the things he did at Bain, I am more convinced that Mitt Romney is now a grayhaired bully.

    I can see how he became wealthy, by stepping on other and bending rules. There is a lot more to Mitt then we know and its not good.

    July 13, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  21. FLIndependent

    "Obama's big mistake was that he actually thought that republicans cared about America."

    You can say that again!! He actually thought Congress cared more about the American people than themselves, silly President.

    July 13, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Wake up people:
    YES! What you said is so on point. Those were his biggest mistakes,not acknowledging, refusing to believe the hate, the greed, the lack of civic duty to country that these people have exhibited since DAY ONE of his presidency.
    To be quite truthful I couldn't believe it for quite some time my damn self. It was just unheard of, and never before seen in this country.
    Well said Wake up.

    July 13, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  23. anagram_kid

    I am curious if some of these anti- President Obama posters honestly think Senator McCain would have been a better president, especially considering his very poor choice for VP. Do they really think McCain had the decision making and critical thinking skills necessary for the job? I honestly believe that if McCain had won we would still be in Iraq and a new war would have started with Iran. He would not have focused on the economy and our national debt would be much higher. People need to stop personalizing politics and understand that we elect people to be professional decision makers. President Obama was the better choice then and still is.

    July 13, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  24. Mark L.

    President Obama's mistake will be NOTHING in comparison to the BIG MISTAKE Americans will make if they vote the Republicans / Tea Party radicals back in office...If you think the Great Recession of 2008 was bad, just vote Republican, and you'll see how bad things can really get. Ever hear of the 1929 stock market crash / Great Depression / 25% unemployment?? Vote Republican and you will see this history repeat itself for sure !!!!

    July 13, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. Brian2913

    What a joke, your policies suck,not the message

    July 13, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
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