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. simp

    @ blaster34,chiefgunner and all the other stupid remarks about the POTUS. This President can put the blame on congress if you morons who keep saying stop the blame game President Obama did say he takes the blame for most of it and he is correct. All you ignorant fox new watching morons know that congress fought him tooth and nail that's why he couldn't get as much done as he would like. Boy I wish only the people who has an ounce of intellengence would blog here, clearly most of you idiots arent intellengent.

    OBAMA 2012!!!!

    September 24, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. Mike in NYC

    "I take full responsibility ..... but its all STILL the Republican's fault." Doesn't exactly sound like he's accepting responsibility for anything.

    September 24, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. sidb1980

    Bush didn't speak at the RNC so as not give you LIbs any more f o d d e r to blame him for the 4 years of Obama's incompetence. Maybe some people won't wake up but I hope many do. His policies are not working. Time for some real hope and change.

    September 24, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Bayousara

    I hope we do go over the "fiscal cliff." I think Americans deserve this for not demanding that the Congress do its job this past nearly four years. THEN we shall learn how bad things can get and deal with what my parents and probably your grand- or great-grand parents dealt with during the Great Depression. Maybe we can get our kids back to school so they will be productive citizens in the not too distant future. It scares me how millions of super-sized people with little education are going to run this nation.

    September 24, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. amanda

    If that were true, Obama would just step down from being president. He is a socialist.

    September 24, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. selfevolved

    I love how the Republicans say Obama had a Democratic Congress even though the Republicans in the Senate filibuster every single bill. Unless you have 60 in the senate, your party doesn't control Congress. Nothing is going to change with this election. The Democrats cannot get a majority in the House, and the Repubilcans cannot get 60 seats in the Senate (or even a simple majority). So whether Obama or Romney wins, we're looking at four more years of gridlock.

    September 24, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    Mitt Romney sells this nation to China, India. 47% and Bain-Capital. Watch him on you tube when mitt Romney came to town-- enjoy. Obama12.

    September 24, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Expat American

    So the people who voted for McCain and PALIN are now planning on voting for only one term of Romney….meaning that they would rather have 4 more years of Bush; and then hope that the next Republican won’t do the same?
    That’s a pretty tall order.

    September 24, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. Frank Ch. Eigler

    Interesting how "taking responsibility" consists entirely of saying the words "taking responsibility".

    September 24, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. joesixpackjr

    Obama was bound to be divisive. Look at his record in the Sentate; he was the least bipartisan Sentator. He voted against both Roberts and Alito for the Supreme Court; so why should any repub reach across the aisle and vote for one of Obama's nominees (hopefully he has nominated his last). Only the news media believes that Obama is moderate; everyone else knows the truth.

    September 24, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. mrpopular

    I fault Obama for not compromising.

    September 24, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. mcskadittle

    I would hope if romney is elected that he would be gwb lite, creating less economic disaster

    September 24, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. linda

    Romney says he will balance the budget by 2020 (he is expecting to have two terms) and yet the Republicans are complaining about Obama not doing it in just his first 4 years.......come on people if you really believe Romney can get this country out of debt your just fooling yourself.....you aren't fooling me or the rest of us that voted for Obama and will support him again in November.....there is no other President that has been faced with the problems this President has been faced with and then on top of that to have the Republican Party just sit on their thumbs and do nothing.......all because they are a bunch of white rich racists elite group that doesn't want a Black man showing this country that he can and will do just as good as any white man or woman can......

    September 24, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. ThinkAgain: Mittens 47% ... Veterans, grandma and the disabled are all moochers!

    @lancelot41: "It's amazing how these media outlets are still protecting this man after four years of misery. "

    Really, misery? How about the FACT that the GOP has done everything it can to block everything President Obama has tried to do, including blocking proposals that the GOP not only put forward but supported in the past (health care mandate, to name just one)?

    And while too many people are still out of work, at least we've had 30 straight months of positive private sector job growth (compared to the 800,000 jobs we were losing each month at the end of the GW Bush error);

    GM is alive and well, along with the 1+ million supply chain jobs (Mittens would have let it all go under);

    housing starts are up (Mittens would have let millions lose their homes so "investors" could buy up the properties cheap and rent the houses back to the original owners);

    Osama bin Laden, along with the leadership of al Qaeda (who attacked us under GW Bush's watch);

    Things are perfect, but what did you expect after a global financial meltdown? More specifically, what do you expect would happen if Mittens were elected and all the failed GOP policies came back in full force, along with Munster's budget which is a moral and logical failure from the get-go?

    Do yourself a favor, lancelot41, and start accepting REALITY – and vote for President Obama.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    September 24, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Critical Thinking

    Lets see, if it's washington you can only change things from the outside, not the inside like he promised to do in 2008. Now for foreign policy, you can only change things from inside the country, not the outside..which is the exact opposite of his position for washington. The common thread in both is that he is not responsible in either situations. America, are you seeing a pattern?

    It's time : BO MUST GO!

    September 24, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. kemikal

    You know, i almost want Pres. Obama to lose this presidential election; then all of you clowns will get to see just how much the Republican party is NOT on the side of Americans, but on the side of MONEY. Some of you "people" don't understand that this president fights for all; republicans only care about you if you're wealthy. Keep listening to others instead of finding out for yourselves. If Romney wins this election, it will be worse than Bush. He's only in this to make more money and to help other like him continue to step on the little people. All you have to do is listen; close your eyes and open your ears!!!!

    September 24, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. ThinkAgain: Mittens 47% ... Veterans, grandma and the disabled are all moochers!

    @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.

    "Presidential Daily Briefing: Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." August 6, 2001. Ignored by GW Bush; 3000 died.

    Wake up, Erik. People died!

    September 24, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. rdeleys

    I hope that if Romney wins, the Democrats do to him what the Republicans did to Obama. The Democrats' number one goal should be to make Romney a one-term president.

    September 24, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. 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 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Jeb

    Anyone remember the last time a Republican took responsibility for anything?

    September 24, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. truth hurts

    Without a doubt. Obama has been THE most divisive, partisan President in the country's history. He never stopped campaigning and led the country as the job of President requires. He's acted like a community organizer trying to organize a pro-union rally. The first two years he could have cared less about what the Republicans wanted. As he told Eric Cantor, "Eric, I won."

    September 24, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. idiophobia

    admitting that you were partially responsible takes some guts my hats of to you Mr.President

    September 24, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. FLIndependent

    The President is honorable in taking the blame, however it takes two to tango. If players on a team refuse to work with the coach, is it the coach's fault that the team isn't cooperating? President Obama has reached out a number of times, even supporting policies and ideas that Republicans would have supported in the past, but every time he was met with a clinched fist. The obstruction was very transparent since Day 1 and I believe most Americans know this so they will give the President another 4 years to continue what he started and hopefully give him back a Dem Congress that will work with him.

    September 24, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. hesea

    . They pressed Rmoney for details but not as much as Obama.Obama wasn't comfortable looking during the interview and even looked agravated when Koft asked soft ball question's. Obama went on to admit that some of the earlier adds were way over the top and not accurate. He should tell that to Debbie Wasserman Shultz, she amdits she lies then says that just the way it is, Watch the AC 360 interview Cooper was even getting frustrated with her and this is CNN, very funny.

    September 24, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. Paul

    "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,"

    That is the only profound thing Obama has ever said! And, he is absolutely correct. As long as the foreign bankers and billionairs determine who and what is done in Washington, it will not change. Romney and Obama are two heads on the same snake. There is no substantive difference between them.

    September 24, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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