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. acura2010

    A dysfunctional congress who are in Washington who works for the greed, not the poor, working poor, and middle workers.

    September 24, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  2. PSensei

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

    The above is NOT taking responsibility. He essentially said "The buck stops here, sometimes." Way to make a stand!/

    Of course Obama supporters are fawning. "Oh look at how responsible he is!' I wish I could live in that fantasy world. "I'm responsible, except when I'm not...by the way, if it's bad, it wasn't MY bad."

    September 24, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. Being

    Facts?? Tell me how you change the tax rate, remove deductions AND have people pay about the same thing and call that lowing taxes? If I pay X and the rules change but I still pay X my taxes are not less. 12 million MORE people working in 4 years? At what? That is some promise. And, cutting back on goverment employment slowly so there is no big impact but at the same time showing a balanced budget? Really! The only reason it would please me to see him in office is that in 4 years these promises would be something to throw back in his face.

    September 24, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  4. truthful 11

    who can and why would it be allowed that any person that was that is that have refused to fight for this country at war time be allowed to become or to be Nonie for office of the president of the united states of america.this Should not be allowed. we have to men that want to set in office and say the are for the people. but when they were needed to fight for the peoples and this country they ran. they both went some were else but ran from war Romney went to Paris I am not sure were Ryan went but is was not on the Battle field like my brother did In Viet Nam where he lost his life for our country on sept 21,1969 so how can anyone trust them to be leaders for this country? they talk about things that really don't matter to anyone that is black or poor model class or anyone that is of a different race . they so very little respect to the president Romney calls him Obama and not the president most of the time and Ryan is the same way . they are very cold hearted towards our president and the feel that the lack of respect they shows the president will turn on people and make people trust them? I don't think so .so it don t matter were a person is born if they are a american with a good background and have not ran from war they should be allowed to run for office no matter what there race is or color is.also if you can't show the people why you rather keep your money in other countries that saids you are not a true american and you do trust our banking system. why would anyone want to trust you to run this country .

    September 24, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  5. hmw011

    .I saw the interview last night and was shocked at all the lies he spouts off. He said that he created more jobs in Ohio, Not true the Republican Governor created more jobs in Ohio. All of the job creation is going on in states with Republican governors; I really am sick and tired of all the lies this man tells. He has created the gridlock and all the division in this country. His Foreign policy is a real mess and he has his Administration boldly lie to the American Public about the problems. It was not the mob upset about the movie but Al-Qaida who attacked the embassy under his watch. Sorry by maybe his lemmings believe this but the educated don’t. Romney 2012!

    September 24, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  6. Mark

    In spite of their low approval ratings Congress contiues to act as though they are actually accomplishing something, and they are. Their goal is to make Obama look bad. Whatever the president wants, Congerss will push for the opposite. They need to be replaced.

    September 24, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. jpmichigan

    Obama had every opportunity to work with the Republicans his first two yers in office, but his ego got in the way. I remember his comment to McCain during the televised meeting on Healthcare, he basically state "he won the election not McCain". This statement from him started to change the minds of many former Democrats. Now close to the election , he wants redemption. Hypocricially, stating he has made mistakes This just shows you just how far an politician (Obama) will go to get re-elected. He also states he is the President of all the people, well that should include non-union works (Delphi and car dealers) who lost their right to their pensions as well as their jobs , with the auto makers bailout, but CEO still take home big checks. I dislike both candidates, but will vote for less of 2 evils!!! or not vote.

    September 24, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. Haggisdog

    The introduction of the Tea Party has made any bi-partisanship governance impossible. It's incredible to me that some Americans feel that electing representatives who refuse to discuss or negotiate on ANYTHING is what they expect from their leaders. Hopefully most of these obstructionist backbenchers will be washed away as quickly as they arrived.

    September 24, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Workers Unite

    If you felt responsible, you would not run for a second term.

    September 24, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  10. lando1210

    Be it GOP or Dem, anyone with sense should appreciate Obama's honesty. The real shame in all of this is the GOP's lack of respect for the POTUS because he is Democratic and African American. GOP mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh said it at the beginning of Obama's term – I hope he fails and the GOP took it to heart by blocking whatever they could. That lack of respect was punctuated by GOP Congressman Joe Wilson during Obama's State of Union address with "You lie". Romney's 47% assertion is disrespectful to all who works a 9 to 5 and in some ways disrespect the POTUS by saying his supporters are a bunch of mindless sheep who does not matter anyway. In November, it will be us mindless sheep who sends a fat cat millionaire who cares about nothing but his personal interests and not to mention his lack of producing tax returns and his money in oversea accounts back to the boardroom where he belongs, not in the Oval Office.

    September 24, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  11. Gurgyl

    In a simple sense–"WE LOVE YOU, OBAMA". Yes, on Obama12.

    September 24, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. scieng1

    Obama had a free ride for 2 years, getting everything he wanted passed with no significant opposition. He adamantly refused to compromise anything to help the economy, promote freedom, protect American interests, or help the middle class. Now, he still refuses to compromise to get anything useful passed, but continues to whine about the obstructionism that he promotes. We need change, not Obama.

    September 24, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. Anonymous

    He changed the "tone" alright. Now even those that voted for him can't stand him.

    September 24, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  14. TSB8C

    So in other words, Obama wants his agenda to move forward, even when he can't can't his own party to support him some of the time, and wants the American people to "put pressure" on Congress to pass his stuff whether we agree with it or not. He is the first prez in history to never pass a budget. He couldn't even get a single Dem vote to support the last attempt, nor did he get sufficient votes his first two years when his party controlled both houses of Congress. He believes (or at least states) that when he can't pass something it must because of "gridlock in Washington" and can't accept the fact that perhaps he can't pass it because it isn't any good. People see the budget busting measures he proposes and he just can't believe that something he put forward might not be loved by all. His arrogance is unbelievable.

    September 24, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I agree Mr. President. You should take the blame because you didn't reload. You should have asked one of your secret service agents for their piece and then you should have sprayed the entire teapublican party. That would have been mission accomplished.

    September 24, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  16. Guest

    "We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.” Yep, that's the way to win unification and cooperation. Can't imagine why there's conflict with that attitude. Yet, it's still the Repub's fault even though he admitted the Dems would be driving the car.

    September 24, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Mike

    Read the head line and then read the quote in the article. This sums up why Obama is the worst president in history and media is doing all it can do to get him reelected. Wake up America this guy wants to make America a third world nation, and he's been very successful so far.

    September 24, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. pat pat

    My biggest disappointment... OBAMA!

    September 24, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  19. ConcernedSNCO

    Response to didntbuildthat:

    You might want to get your facts straight and do a little research and stop watching fox news. This president has constantly reached out to the GOP in order to come to an agreement on issues. I guess you have a selective memory with the dept ceiling crisis when the president had those long drawn out meetings with the senate and house leadership. They actually came to an agreement, but speaker Boehner couldn't get his GOP idiots to go along with the deal. That goes back to show Sen. Mitch McConnell's statement back in 2009 that the GOP wouldn't work with this president under any circumstances. People like you don't like facts, because you get blinded by your alternative motives to hate this president. It's people like you why these right wing neo con groups are going to be the destruction of this country. Try using your brain for once and stop drinking the kool-aid.

    September 24, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  20. wes

    The American government has become a conservative monolith. From a congress that refuses to even consider the most benign legislature that is proffered by the Democrats to the Supreme Court that stated money can buy power and it should. The American people and our nation as a hole is now at the mercy of the almighty powerful wealthy and we will be forced to submit to their will unless we persist a social inversion that has the government responding to the public sentiment instead of the corporate. I am too old and broken to carry on, but if younger people do not put down their text messaged conversations about ??? then they should soon realize that they must be the best slave ever whipped or enjoy living in a grocery cart filled with lost dreams. Embrace a new world order American and it isn't Islam or freedom; Wall Street is buying our government at the auction house.

    September 24, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  21. Ancient Texan

    Obama never ever made an effort to calm the national political climate! Announcing that " elections have consequences and I won" and indicating that compromise in his mind really means MY way or no way is not the way to draw the nation together.

    September 24, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  22. Ga.Democrat

    To get something done in Washington we must vote out the Grover Norquist pledge signers and the party of no. It's time the Congress realize they work for the American people and they are wrecking our country. We continue to pay them and provide
    them with benefits even when they don't accomplish anything. Most employees do not get paid and they don't get a check if they don't produce or show up. Vote them out!
    Obama/Biden 2012

    September 24, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. Chmee

    America was built on compromise. But the obstructionist party of NO refuses to budge an inch on anything the Dems try to pass, they've blocked more legislation in the last 4 years than in the previous 40 years. They don't want the economy to get better, they want it to stay in bad shape so they can point the finger at Obama. But I think the American people know who is REALLY keeping the economy in shambles. It's the Republican obstructionists. Vote them out in November!!!

    September 24, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. Chmee

    America was built on compromise. But the obstructionist party of NO refuses to budge an inch on anything the Dems try to pass, they've blocked more legislation in the last 4 years than in the previous 40 years. They don't want the economy to get better, they want it to stay in bad shape so they can balam Obama. But I think the American people know who is REALLY keeping the economy in shambles. It's the Republican obstructionists. Vote them out in November!!!

    September 24, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. Andacar

    Ted, I agree with you completely, I just wish it were that easy. It seems so simple: Let's all get along and do our jobs, and pass legislation that will help Americans get back to work, afford health care, and regain our preeminent place in the world's industry. It sounds obvious. How could that possibly not happen?

    September 24, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
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