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. Jgg

    He is such a manipulator. Vote him out... He deserves it!

    September 24, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  2. weeDoggie

    The republicans sacrificed what is good for America for what is good for the GOP. They declared war on the president the day he was sworn in. How can you work with people who have declared you their sworn enemy? They are the reason more has not been done about unemployment.

    September 24, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  3. ChiefGunner

    "I think that, you know, as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree." To some degree? Is there someone higher up in the food chain that takes the rest of it?

    September 24, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  4. KL

    Sorry Obama, but that's not your disappointment. That's the result of 400 years of slavery/ignorance/disenfranchisement/racism/hatred/need I go on. That's the disappointment of this country. Some people are not ready for a black president, and as a result, they will do anything in their power to sabotage your success, at the expense of the American people. It is shameful and a disgrace, and I wouldn't be surprised if it took another 400 years and 10 more black presidents to change that.

    September 24, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  5. Jenny Sills

    How does one "bear responsibility for everything, to some degree,"? Isn't that like being a little bit pregnant?

    September 24, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  6. DIna

    FREEDOM: You must have some ego to call yourself "Freedom". So many on the far right feel they are the "true" patriots, when we learned from the neo-cons that so many on the right are just chicken hawks, sending other people's children to die. I suggest you do something to better your country instead of just spouting patriotic phrases.

    September 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. truthful 11

    May God Bless President Obama 2012

    September 24, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. hdrkid

    It's Bush's fault, give me four more years.

    September 24, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. Wake up People!

    First off let me say, this is one comment that I'm sure will not be printed. But I'm going to say it anyway.
    Why is everyone ignoring the HUGE elephant in the room? Mittens says he knows he has to work with both parties and did when he was governor. Ok good for him. You do need to work with both parties. But isn't that exactly what President Obama did when he came into office? Did he not stress that we are all Americans and we need to work together to move this country forward? Then what happened? Mitch McConnell states that their only goal is to make him a one term POTUS, and they try and do exactly that. Now I ask my fellow citizens, how many other presidents has this happened to? How many times did the GOP plot to bring down the President of the United States? Oh sure Clinton went thru some things, but nothing like this President has had to endure. All the while keeping his head up and continuing moving us forward with no help at all.

    Ask yourselves this.....what makes President Obama different from every other POTUS in history? That will be your answer as to why they want to see him fail and in the process make sure another like him never gets anywhere near the White House unless he is the butler or chauffer.

    OBAMA 2012!

    September 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Dean

    "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.........................................You sure wanted change when you held meetings late at night with only one party, when you bribed memebers of your own party to vote your way, when you and a few members of the pharm lobby met behind closed doors to write Obamacare.

    September 24, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. Scott

    CNN the headline is wrong-shlould read............"The Big Disappointment" Hope and Change :(

    September 24, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. Keeping it Real

    'full responsibility for everything'

    Yet, all I see is deflect and blame...

    September 24, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  13. enuff

    I know for a fact that the representatives from my state, which are all republicans, will NOT VOTE for anything the president wants. They always vote party line, even when Bush was in office. They voted FOR eveything Bush asked for. And I mean EVERYTHING... HOWEVER, they just voted AGAINST the Vets job bill. They haven't been in our state since they recessed. Shows you how much they think of re-election... when they know they will be re-elected here just because they are incumbent republicans. They don't even have to try any more.

    September 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. ZedLoch

    According to the NYT, the 112th Congress has been the least productive Congress in history. It passed 733 fewer public laws than the second least productive Congress in history (the session from 1947-48).

    it costs the taxpayers roughly $53,534 per DAY to keep the House in sesison AND $77 million annually to pay the representatives' salaries.

    Remember, Republicans want small, do-nothing government. This is what it looks like.

    September 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. blaster34

    He surely bears responsibility for the deaths of Brian Terry and Ambassador Stevens.

    September 24, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Randy

    It's classy that he says this. But those of us who have been watching know the GOP has engaged in the most -unAmerican, perverse obstructionism imaginable. They haven't just bet against the US, they've actually hurt our economy on purpose in order to have a shot at the White House. They've gone off the deep end.

    September 24, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. MarineEngr

    Nearly four years of blaming Bush and the republican party for every failed policy yet says the buck stops at his desk?

    September 24, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. Denny

    His first two years he was guarded by democrats in both houses. Why didn't he tell them to do everything he wanted such as close gitmo, give citizenship to all illegal aliens, stop oil exploration, give us gay marriage, raise taxes on whomever he considers wealthy, and no work for able-bodied welfare recipients? C'mon, no excuses.

    September 24, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    point blank, obama is a disapointment to all real American Patriots for treasonous acts that are his attempt to destroy a free America, even if obama wins the fight will go on till We The People Get America Back!

    September 24, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. palusko996769

    "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."

    Except back then, the pro-choice, anti-automatic weapon, pro-personal insurance mandate Romney was more of a Democrat than Republican. So I guess, it was not too hard to have a good relationship with the Democrats.

    September 24, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. indigo

    This is the most disgustingly partisan Congress ever - they were elected to represent us, the people, but keep playing their childish oneupmanship games at our expense and to the detriment of this nation. There is no reason for it except the GOP's great lust for power and unvarnished hate for our first black president.

    September 24, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  22. Veritas Lavinga

    You've "changed" enough Mr. Obama, I want America back and we're going to get it back with President Romney starting Janauary 2013.

    September 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. Bill

    The GOP have proven they are more about power polictics than they are at passing effective legislation for the American people and the entire GOP congressional field should be voted out. It is inexcusable for them to have created such massive economic and war debts and then turn around and filibuster every single remedial measure. I have seen and heard what the GOP are all about and I will never vote for the GOP again.

    September 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. Ganan

    NOW he decides to take responsibility--sorry, but its way too late. Time to move out....you failed.

    September 24, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. zzxzzc

    Obama finds an excuse for his failures over and over and over. Does the guy ever own up to anything,or is this what he has done his entire life?Cant wait till Romney takes over and America gets a LEADER like it deserves.

    September 24, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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