Obama: I bear 'full responsibility for everything'
September 23rd, 2012
07:39 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama: I bear 'full responsibility for everything'

(CNN) – President Barack Obama discussed his frustration with gridlock in Washington, saying his "biggest disappointment" in his nearly four years in office has been the failure to oversee change in the nation's political climate.

"My biggest disappointment is that we haven't changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked," Obama said in a CBS News interview that aired Sunday.

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Asked if he bears any blame for the stalemate, Obama said the buck stops at his desk.

"I think that, you know, as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree," he said on CBS' "60 Minutes."

Throughout the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney's campaign and Obama’s critics have dogged the president for failing to get certain legislation passed in recent years, while Team Obama responds by faulting congressional Republicans for not compromising.

The tension has especially heightened as Congress faces a looming, end-of-the-year deadline to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a massive amount of tax hikes and spending cuts set to take place at the beginning of 2013 if Congress fails to act. Lawmakers on both sides have already showed signs of firm partisan division on the issue.

Obama's comments aired days after the president drew criticism from Romney over separate remarks about change in Washington, comments that suggested a slight tweak in Obama's 2008 ideals of "hope" and "change."

"The most important lesson I've learned is that you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside," Obama said Thursday afternoon at a presidential forum the candidate taped to run on the Spanish-language network Univision.

Within hours, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney seized on the remarks, argued Obama had thrown up the "white flag of surrender," and vowed to make that change, himself.

"His first two years he had a Democratic House, Democratic Senate, he got to do whatever the heck he wanted to, but he says he can't change it from the inside. Well, I will," Romney told a Sarasota, Florida, crowd.

During his CBS interview, Obama reiterated ways he would recruit the American people to help him fix the nation's capital.
"Something that I'd really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward," Obama said.

Last summer, the president used such a technique, directly urging Americans in a primetime speech to call their representatives in Congress during the intense budget battle and tell them to vote for the debt ceiling increase. Responding, Americans dialed in and caused massive phone-line jams on Capitol Hill.

In the Sunday interview, Obama also offered some ways in which he has seen change, most notably the passage of health care reform.

"And so change has happened and positive change for the American people. I'm the first one to confess that," he said.
However, when it comes to shifting from a "political slugfest" to a climate more focused on "problem solving," Obama acknowledged he hasn't "fully accomplished that."

On the same CBS program Sunday, Romney agreed the problem ultimately falls on the president's shoulders and offered his own approach to resolving the partisan impasse.

"Leadership is not just working with your own party, but working with both parties. And I learned that. I was governor of a state with a legislature 87 percent Democrat," Romney said. "I realized I was going to get nothing done unless I had a relationship– a respect, and trust with– with the members of the– of the opposition party."

CNN's Gregory Wallace and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (652 Responses)
  1. 1608

    A true POTUS

    September 23, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Name JR

    You have got to be kidding me? This incompetant fraud is now saying "he bears responsibility". Did Valerie tell you to say this? Good luck America if you elect this phony again.

    September 23, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. Sue_Purb

    It's about frikkin time he accept responsibility for something.

    September 23, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Nate68

    He shouldn't have to. Everything isn't his fault.

    September 23, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  5. Jack

    Mr. Romney

    You are a nice enough person, but the baggage the comes along with you is just to much this conservative to handle. The Tea Party group are unwilling to compromise and the RNC is being lead around by the nose by Rush "Over the Cliff" Limbaugh, Sean "Insanity" Hannity, Pat "I am the Light" Robertson and Donald "6 time Bankrupt" Trump. All who are Flime Flamb artist.

    I'll go with someone that admits their shortcomings and mistakes and takes responsibility for them!

    I haven't seen any of that from the Tea Partier's, especaily Limbaugh or the Republicans'

    And your book "No apologize" The title just turns me off!

    September 23, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." --B. Obama

    Interesting. The uhbama has blamed Bush, The Republicans, The Arab Spring, The Tsunami, The Video, Wall Street, The Tea Party, The Banks, The Bush Tax cuts, The media, Europe, The Supreme court, Big oil, ATM's, Fox News, Speculators etc. I guess the uhbama has finally run out of things to blame.

    September 23, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. kathy/Minnesota

    Now that's a real MAN.........maybe mittens will learn something.

    September 23, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    Congress is useless–I mean UTTERLU USELESS. What do you do? If nation has sense–remove all the ingress animals. Yes, this nation needs to. Obama12.

    September 23, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. Gurgyl

    In two years, he changed–so we are able to pass the most needed law–Healthcare law–the biggest achievement–mitt. Obama did not stash illegal money in CAYMAN ISLANDS. Willared the most idiot needs to know.

    September 23, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  10. Catmandew

    Finally he admits to bein a screw up and lives up to his poor leadership skills! Now just quit and go back to Chicago where you came from you will fit right in with the corruption there!

    September 23, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  11. Catmandew

    Hope he goes away !

    September 23, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  12. Norma Vessels

    If Mitt Romney thinks he's going to Washington to 'get something done' because he will be ready to work with both parties .. he may find a nasty surprise awaiting him, just like president Obama did with the stubborn Republicans in Congress. Mitt Romney won't be able to 'play nice' and get those radical ideas passed through Congress without a fight .. and the American people will be right at his door, leading the onslaught. No, Mr. Romney, it's just not that easy. Besides, you're not going to the White House, so there's no reason to worry about 'getting along,' is there?

    September 23, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. LM

    Now, that's integrity (unlike some other candidate whose name I won't mention). My husband and I plan on voting to renew your contract Mr. President!

    September 23, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  14. Romney cares less

    God Bless the POTUS!

    September 23, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  15. resident1728

    Obama, much to his promise, got the medical bill passed during the first portion of his term. Few presidents have actually stepped up and followed through with their pre-election promises. Then, along came a Republican Congress, which immediately stepped up and started voting that bill down. Yes, Mr Obama DID follow through. No, he was not able to continue to get other bills passed, because of the Republican majority, the very ones who are now telling us he didnt follow through! How stupid do the Republicans really think we voters are? We know who put the brakes on the bills and other plans, and it was not the Democrats. Both parties have their hard headed percentage. Both need to sell their plans to those of us in the middle, and the majority put Mr Obama in office, and expect Congress to carry on and do what we wanted. He isnt through, ande beyond needing the 4 more years to do it, he needs a congress that is willing to work and be involved in what we the people put them there for. It would be nice to have some middle-of-the-road people in the house and senate, so that this could happen. The Tea Party, is not it!

    September 23, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  16. bb

    President Obama assumes responsibility, unlike the obstructionist republicans who refuses to admit, lie and deny their involvement in causing this economic mess.

    September 23, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  17. Buffalo Rude

    Why does the quote in the headline ('full responsibility for everything') not appear in the article?

    Oh yeah, Drudge bait.

    September 23, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Obama: I bear 'full responsibility for everything'

    It's ALL George Bush's fault !!!

    Makes perfect Liberal sense !!!

    September 23, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  19. uncdig

    very interesting interview. Its my fault, but only to some degree. His biggest disappointment is "we havent changed the tone in washington as much as he'd like."
    However, he has been the Prez for almost 4 years & has had every opportunity to develope conversations that would have changed the tone, however he insteads choses to take an "Im the king & what I say goes, instead of working with Congress he pits Dem vs Rep, American vs American against each oither. How can that be leadership trying to change the tone of washington. He acknowledges that he hasnt fully accomplished shifting from a tactic of polictical slugfest to problem solving – no kidding?
    Leadership is not just working with your own party both working with both parties.I realized that I would not get annnnything done unless I had a relationship- a respect & trust with -with the members of the – of the opposition party".
    How does he think relationships of trust & respect that he talks about are developed? He admits it hasnt been the way of his 1st four years. But now that its time for relection we need to trust that he will do what he says? A little too little a little too late.

    September 23, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  20. Catmandew

    Obama just go away your plans arent any good anyway

    September 23, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. MaryM

    Thank you Mr. President. Way to man up. Now, lets see if Mitt has the brass to take responsibility to what he did at Bain Vultures. Bain bought troubled companies, loaded them up with debt, fired American workers and shipped their jobs overseas and raided those worker pension. And then bankrupt those companies. Man up Mitt. Oh and show Americans those tax returns prior to 2010, Just like your father, George said to do.

    September 23, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  22. wes

    Obama: I bear 'full responsibility for everything' O look hes not blaming Bush for Everything this time figures !! LOL

    September 23, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  23. MaryM

    Oh , I forget, Romney put millions in his pocket and his friends pockets bankrupting those companies

    September 23, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  24. Charles Conteh

    This election will be a historic test of the intelligence of the American people. Obama is a transcendental figure, a profound intellectual, a balanced thinker, a prudent administrator, a charismatic personality, an inspiration to our generation, a conduit for the restoration of America`s leadership in the worlld, an embodiment of integrity, compassion and effectiveness, and a man in touch with the dreams, aspirations, challenges and triumphs of the American people. Romney has none of these qualities. I trust that the intelligence of the American people will allow them to see the stark differences between these two men.

    September 23, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  25. ram

    A re-elected president Obama, with a congress ready to solve problems instead of playing obstructionist games, will be able to respond wisely and effectively to America's crucial challenges.

    September 23, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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