Obama: I bear 'full responsibility for everything'
September 23rd, 2012
07:39 PM ET
6 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. Sujith, NE

    All you people saying Obama has to go cos of this, remember....

    It takes a real man to apologize or cry.

    O B A M A 2012!

    September 24, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. American

    This clown of a President takes responsibility for nothing and that my friends is what you get when you have a Socialist in charge!

    September 24, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. NobamaNov12

    Obama will take responsibility while blaming everyone else. Why did they not ask Obama why he didn't get the policies he wanted passed when he had control of both the House and the Senate in his 1st 2 years. It's all a sham by the Obfuscator in Chief blaming others when its convenient and then accepting responsibilty knowing full well the Dems will not hold him to it.

    September 24, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. Ron in Ohio

    It matters not if it is a Democrat or Republican, Congress has become so partisan I doubt any President will get cooperation from then even if they have a majority in both houses. Until we sweep out the whole lot of them, institute term limits it will continue to be the same old, same old.

    September 24, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. CC

    What a laugher, he takes full responsibility. That's why he blames everyone else for the bad economy, the wars overseas, the job situation, and so on. He can blame the Repbulican controlled House all he wants, but this does nto change the fact that he had two full years with a Democrat Super Majority and he did not do anything stellar. His hope and change amounts to adding over a third of the Nation debt in less than four years, it's just ridiculuous.

    September 24, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Truly

    It comes down to this: either you want Obama = Marxist/Collectivist agenda with total government control or
    Romney = Democratic Republic/Captitalism and chance to restore freedom.

    September 24, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. deadwrestler

    Obama sits on his hands and does not suspend Ethanol requirement on gasoline in wake of drought.
    United Nations has called for suspension of Ethanol in wake of drought knowing full well starvation across
    the entire world depends upon corn. Also Obama silent about social security that he raided as 2%
    middle class tax cut for the past two years. What will be his comment now, about raising retirement age.
    He underfunded the program. And healthcare anyone working has seen their policies increase, the
    exact opposite of what Obama promised. He is responsible for the fall of the middle class.

    September 24, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Everybody working for Karl Rove posting here raise there hand .

    Romney = GW Bush 2012.

    The key to success is admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility for them . The key to failure is pretending eight years didn't happen.

    September 24, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. SeeThruIt2

    Obama said the buck stops at his desk.

    Fortunately, he's out campaigning and not at his desk.

    September 24, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    It'[s funny how when interviwed at the end of his presidency he couldn't think of any regrets or mistakes.

    Yes...NONE ! Even as the house burned down behind him.

    Republicans : We demand personal responsibilty from everyone ! Except ourselves.

    September 24, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. a disgrace but you voted for him

    electing the disgrace obama has been the biggest mistake in america's history then again everyone knows it by now!!!

    September 24, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    Bush at the end couldn't admit mistakes or regrets.

    September 24, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. truth hurts

    Sujith, NE
    All you people saying Obama has to go cos of this, remember....
    It takes a real man to apologize or cry.
    Yeah, apologoizes to the world for our country and all the evil we have wrought on the world. That is not the definition of a man. And cry? Yeah, he's always crying about things not being his fault. Sounds more like a 5 year old than a man.

    September 24, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Pat

    Dems had the House and Senate for the first 2 years of his term. There is no excuse.

    September 24, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. myintx

    "I think that, you know, as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree,"

    TO SOME DEGREE! Is that an 'out' so that we can't call him a flip-flopper, when he blames the GOP for something.. which I'm sure he will do.....

    Obama: You've been in office 4 years... with 2 years of control of the House/Senate... You're the LEADER of this country. A LEADER, would be able to work with both parties instead of grandstanding and saying you won't work with the GOP unless they agree to raise taxes on the rich.

    Time for a REAL leader.

    Rommey/Ryan 2012

    September 24, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. LH Ld Elon

    Bush refers to everyone in his statement, no one is exempt, even your own citizens aren't exempt.

    September 24, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. true blue

    A strong leader takes responsibility for his action, a weak man lies and hides behind his peers.... SO who ? would you rather lead the USA for the next four years

    September 24, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Steve in DC

    Wow, he's blamed everyone but himself throughout his Presidency...heck he still blames Bush, the other side, the trees, the wind..etc. He hasn't taken responsibility for a dang thing. I guess that I blame everything on my upbringing by my parents and the military for teaching me to take responsibility for when I do wrong or something fails while I am in charge....

    Hey, look, it's easy blame everyone else...what a joke: TRENDING: Obama: I bear 'full responsibility for everything'

    If Obama wasn't like every arrogant/narcissitic politician and wasn't so worried about making a name for his healthcare, the economy could have recovered much quicker. When in charge be in charge! Stop apologizing for the U.S. and start being a leader!

    September 24, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. dave

    As reported, Obama in NYC for UN session, but sends Hillary Clinton to attend tough meetings in his place, while he decides to go on 'The View'.

    These priority choices are amazing to me.

    September 24, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Haha...that's a hard one to spell...Manichaeisms...there we go lol (google it...it's a great one for describing the conservative mind-set in today's world and will help you understand why they always ALWAYS have to create a bogeyman for political leverage). I'd give the Orwell and Goebles quotes that dovetail with it too, but you can look those us for yourselves too haha

    September 24, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Richie

    Right on. Finally a step in the right direction.

    September 24, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. ghostriter

    SuperD, democrats did offer up more than regulations and taxe increases. As a matter of fact, the stimulus you mentioned contained tax breaks. And of course, republicans screamed about how horrible it was.....right before and after they silently took stimulus money. But it wouldn't have mattered. You do know many of those same republicans that were against it were for it when Bush did it? Right?

    Of course, things like usually mundane cabinet positions and the like were also filibustered by republicans. In short, it wasn't just bills they thought were bad. Anything democrats or Obama presented was DOA to republicans. Even their own ideas.

    September 24, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. chaing

    I respect President Obama's 'responsibility' stand. It's honorable and somewhat accurate however, the congress and senate are really the one's who need to take responsibility for any failures. This group of entitled Americans have polarized and refuse to problem solve and work together. More evidence for term limits, fewer benefits, more in line with 'ordinary' Americans and limit campaine financing. Oh and how about less time off and getting paid for work done not for throwing partisan BS!

    September 24, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. theINDEPENDENTone

    And the American People hold OBAMA full responsible for a stagnant failed economy.

    The lose of 39% of the average family's wealth and savings under OBAMA;

    The utter failure of US foreign policy;

    The OBAMAnation.

    As OBAMA said "people do dumb things" and he is number 1 on that list.

    September 24, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. Ashamed

    It is so disturbing to see how hatred and division is still very prominent in the USA. I wish every citizen would close their eyes and listen. Make a sound decision regarding this presidential election. race shouldn't matter. Ask yourself this question; if I was drowning. would it matter that the person throwing me the life line was of a different race. If your answer is yes, then you would surely die. Sat back and examine you own lives, don't just listen to what hyou hear on TV. You must know how the government operates before you can truly make an informed decision. If you cannot articulate the process, you will absolutely be lead by your emotions. I have come to learn that you can't change a person's heart, but you can modify their behavior. May I leave each and everyone of you with a word from God; love your neighbors and agree to disagree; we all are just trying to make it. Be smart about your decision and please vote.

    September 24, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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