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. Bill

    The GOP have said from day one that their biggest priority is the defeat of the President (and America) rather than the rehabilitation of the U.S. economy and jobs.

    September 24, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. lancelot41

    I just read the entire transcript of this interview with Obama, funny how CNN left out or failed to point out any or ALL of the negative and focused on the one "biggest disappoint" line that was repeated numerous times during the interview in response to a number of different questions that had absolutely nothing to do with that "answer".

    It's amazing how these media outlets are still protecting this man after four years of misery. The transcript of that interview makes for a great read because it's filled with double-talk, question dodging/side stepping and far too many outright lies. This President managed to make it through the entire interview without actually answering any of the questions but instead responded to each one by either discussing his "accomplishment" (LOL) or simply blaming Bush, the GOP and anyone else he could think of. It's truly amazing how disingenuous this man really is, he can't tell the truth because he doesn't even remember what the truth is anymore since he's so used to lying or distorting the truth to fit his agenda. I can't wait until I never have to hear or see this man on TV or in the news again, he's an embarrassment to the entire nation.

    September 24, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. mikle

    His desk always look so clean on tv. This man, Obama work on golf, money bla-bla- and nothing else.

    September 24, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Obama simply refers to the fact that the GOP hasn't allowed him to be the dictator he wants to BE!

    Obama has not compromised in any way, on any thing. He either gets what he personally, wants, or NOTHING happens, and then HE BLAMES the GOP for what HE DID!

    September 24, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. Random Poster

    "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. He then went on to say that he didn't think him being the most rabidly partisan, arrogant and uncompromising president in US history could have possibly played any role in that..

    September 24, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Hugh

    Obama can start by knowing the phone numbers of some members of Congress

    September 24, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. CarolinaGirl

    In response to Freedom, you must have just came out of a 3 year coma. I have seen many times our President placing his hand over his heart when stating the pledge. I have heard him countless times say God Bless America. He has never apologized to terriosts. He makes it very clear Isreal is our ally. By the way, we are all God's children. May God bless this troubled world.

    September 24, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. CaesarXIII

    When you spend 4 years of your Presidency blaming Republicans for your own failures this is what you get. A disappointment. A true leader brings listens to both sides and brings them together to work as one, not divide and conquer.

    September 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Lily

    Did Obama had a learning to do from his past experience. Absolutely.... But no president have ever faced such hate and opposition. The republicans (those now in power, there are some that are as frustrated..) are doing everything + at our cost to get him out. Why? that is the million dollar question. You hate someone so much that you will risk your own country's future??? As an independent I would be willing to listen to any candidate, and frankly I would have been excited to hear someone with better ideas and some common sense. But so far I am for Obama. Mr Romney, so far you did not offer anything and recently you are showing how disconnected you are.

    September 24, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. Alois

    Deadbeat obama says he bears full resposibility for everything. Ok, you have been a huge failure , so accept your responsibility and resign !

    September 24, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. pi boson

    I believe anyone that assumes responsibility AND the consequences is a true lead. We the people have not experienced this in decades. I believe in President Obama's vision and plan, not the want and wish goals of someone that hides behind deceit.

    September 24, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. N. Shapiro

    One of the most tellingthings about this election is hat Clinton spoke at the Dem. convention, and Bush never spoke at the Republican one. WHY, because the Bush appearance would remind everyone of the mess Bush left for Obama to cure.
    The Republican complaint is that Obama did not yet completely clean up the Republcan mess, while they – the Republicans, were continuing to mess up. Four more Obama years, and dump the Republican congressmen, starting with Lyin' Ryan.

    September 24, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Artie

    It is extremely frustrating to me that the mainstream media is so invested in President Obama's re-election that they will not seize on anything outrageous that he says as they would with Mitt Romney. They make a huge issue of Romney's 47% remarks-made in private while discussing campaign strategy-and here you have the president of the United States publicly stating that you can't change Washington from the inside, but only from the outside! People really need to stop and think about this for a moment. If you accept that it is true, and that it is why he was unable to accomplish the things he said that he would in his first term, then it logically follows that he wouldn't be able to accomplish any of them is a second term either.

    September 24, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Roger

    President Obama does not need to take the blame for everything. To be sure the President bears some responsibility, but all his good works were blocked by a bigoted, racist, unshakeable Republican congress whose only goal was to make Barack Obama a one term president. How much better off this country would be if they had worked amicably with the President instead of working against him. Vote the bums out on November 6.

    September 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. Mark

    Would Obama have been elected in 2008 if he were white? The answer is no. His supporters point fingers at his opponents and wave the race card. Very convenient. He was first elected because he is a minority. He was (is) completely unqualified with no significant experience. His policies for the past four years have failed miserably. Of all his gaffes and miscues, nothing compares to over $5 trillion in new debt under his presidency. My choice for GOP candidate/president was Condi Rice, so spare me the race/gender accusations.

    September 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Deborah

    Our President is a whiner. It's pathetic. What politician wouldn't be jumping for joy to have both houses of Congress and the Presidency for two full years? He got alot done, alright, and made a alot of changes in those two years–exceedingly poor changes and NOT with bi-partisian support. Thank God for the Republicans and the few Democrats who resisted what the President did in those two years. And now he is whining that he can't change Washington from the inside. The reason he can't change Washington from the inside is that he depends on his smile and teleprompter charm and a majority of Dems in his pocket, and has no leadership, experience or vision to garner compromise and truly lead our country back to greatness. I can't wait until the change coming for him in November....and may he enjoy a long retirement back into community service.

    September 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Pushover

    Darn right the blame starts with Obama.

    he set the tone when he stopped bi-partisan negotiations on healthcare reform, and let Pelosi and Reid strong arm a behind the doors written bill passed.

    September 24, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. Alger Dave

    This strange mea culpa seems too calculated to be real. Of course Americans know Obama is partially responsible for our failed government and weak economy. Now I guess he can say he takes that blame? I didn't hear the interview to hear his tone, but obviously he's not dropping out of the race, so he doesn't think of himself as being too much to blame. This is a new tack, however, as he gets away from blaming others (Congress, former presidents, etc.) for the countries problems. GOP should and will make political hay of this – and rightly so.

    September 24, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Erik

    Campaigning is one thing. Out right lies to the American people is shameful. Obama should be ashamed for his and his parties lies and baseless attacks but the American public should be even more ashamed for continuing to believe the lies. Now they claim they were not wrong about the embassy attacks???? Americans DIED. Come on people, wake up.

    September 24, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  20. Kent

    Obama is NOT responsible for the childish behavior of our Tea Party Tax Weasels or the Bush FInancial Disaster.

    September 24, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. Wilson

    Romney is "obama lite," but "lite" is a whole lot better than the full blown "obama." Romney will cause a whole lot less damage during his 4 years than obama has, then hopefully we can get a decent president voted in. Party doesn't matter as long as they will repair the damage already done and lead us away from turning into another european socialist country.

    September 24, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Mark

    This reminds me of George Bush when he was seeking re-election. He was unpopular and devisive. Seems he would be easy to defeat and then the democrats nominated John Kerry. Now we have a democrat cut from the same cloth and republicans have nominated Mitt Romney. It's very true....what goes around comes around.

    September 24, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Critical Thinking

    He really thinks the issue is tone? America, please wake up and vote this guy out..please

    September 24, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Squigman

    According to a republican spin cycle heard this morning, he stated that he was without responsibility to the current problems. When in hell are the parties and extremist therein going to learn the following basics. If it's in print, on tape, on disc or on the net, it can not be doctored to fit your own greedy needs. Also, the truth is the truth. No amount of lies can tarnish the truth regardless, of how many times lies are told. Get your heads out of AM talk.

    September 24, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Mary72

    The "Do Nothing but make sure Obama is One Term Congress" is the most disgusting and partisan congress United has ever seen. We should vote them all out one by one. These people forgot we elected them to represent us but they behaves as though the lobbyists vote them in.

    September 24, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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