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. allengingrich

    I see a lot of posts on here from conservatives saying that the Republicans never obstructed Obama. I can't even name a single time that they ever agreed with him, off-hand. Rewind your clocks and remember March 2009 - Obama has recently taken office and the obstruction had already started. McConnell had already stated his intent to make Obama a one-term president. And contrary to your "super majority" theory, Obama had only 59 votes in the Senate at its peak, and 58 soon after Ted Kennedy died.

    September 24, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. HarvTy

    So, Hillary's handling the tough meetings at the UN and Obama is yacking with the annoying women of The View. Is that so he can blame her if something doesn't go quite right. Oh, wait, he did meet with Letterman. What a phony. He is a politician ( a good one too), but he is NOT a leader.

    September 24, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. smitvict

    Do you mean we finally found something that wasn't Bush's or the House's fault? WOW.

    September 24, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Kim

    wow, I am hysterical..these comments about obama are absolutely comical. Once again, how fast YOU all have forgotten where you were prior to him taking office. I am now thinking that there must be something in the water. Let me fill all of YOU special commenters in on something...Romeny is equally as dense as Palin! Nuff said!

    September 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Lawless4U

    Dave, I bet Obama reaches more people by being on the view than addressing the UN.

    September 24, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. K from AZ

    Good! Then resign!

    September 24, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Credibility

    truth hurts,
    President Obama never apologized. You have no proof of the words sorry or apologize ever being said, yet you sadly repeat the rhetoric contrary to the facts.

    September 24, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. obam-ney

    We desperately need a centrist, who will will honor the founding principles and selflessly lead by unifying this nation; else, divided, we shall surely fall. Neither the incumbent nor this candidate have a soul. These two are just knock-off sell-outs, panderers to their own exclusive agendas and monied special interests – no different than a long line of predecessors.
    Why have we not been able to produce a level-headed, even-handed leader of quality for such a long, long time? Well, I suppose we get what we deserve – not what we need.

    September 24, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. Saboth

    "Team Obama responds by faulting congressional Republicans for not compromising. " If the truth were in-between, well..it's more like 90% Republican's fault and 10% Obama in this case.

    September 24, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. DJ

    Can Americans not see how badly Obama has run our nation both nationally and internationaly? He is ruining this once great nation with failed ecconomic and poor foreign policy. Lie after scandaless lie and most are fooled by the liberal media covering up those lies and serious blundrs. Why is it so clear & evident to many? Even those of us that are totally unbiased. I don't think Romney the best choice, but by far a much better alternative than Obama. A great deal of Romney's faults are over exposed by the media, while giving Obama a pass.
    The latest scandal has been his dealings withb Isreal and the middle east and blaming this foolish video for the worldwide unrest of the muslim extreamist. Can't Americans see how poorly this was handled? If elected another 4 years our country will be in ruins. There will be nothing to stop his liberal agenda to end religious and personal freedoms, destroying the economy with socialism, and allow socialistic European ideals and muslim ideals to replace democracy and freedom. Use common sense, not sentiment and vote Obam out before it is too late!

    September 24, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Blame. There's more than enough to go around, but I'll tell you what, while some of you might have conveniently forgotten who put this country a spit-throw away from a second Great Depression most of us do NOT suffer from such partisan-induced amnesia. We WILL remember who sat on their hands, played pocket pool, or adhered to a partisan pledge instead of working together with the President to bring us from the edge of the cliff that BOTH parties, and the previous administration brought us to.
    No matter how spin it, or who you blame this awareness does not bode well for the GOPeeing Teatards that are currently responsible for the mayhem and insanity that has taken over the Republican Party.
    Obama 2012. Period.

    September 24, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. ffc

    He can be balmed for polarization of the country, and not making jobs the priority. We need jobs not hand outs,

    September 24, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Credibility

    Obam,
    Romney is not a centrist, not even close as he continues pandering to the far right base. The flip-flopping is not leadership.

    September 24, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    Obama tried. The GOP obstructed everything.

    September 24, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Credibility

    DJ,
    President Obama kept our country from going into another depression with steady, positive growth in the right direction, and his successful foreign policy brought OBL to justice.

    September 24, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    Obama has been a great president. He's been working to undo all the damage the Bush regime did to this country. He's tried to re-establish America as a world power. He's rebuilt foreign relations with our allies so they like us again. He's handled the job with incredible seriousness and grace. If we could just vote out all the GOP so the folks in Washington could get work done instead of having the obstructionist neocons destroying this country any further, we'd all be better off.

    September 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. 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 but maybe his lemmings believe this but the educated don’t. Romney 2012!

    September 24, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "White House communications director Dan Bartlett says that the Democratic statements "are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do." -May 2002, in response to Dems demanding more info and docs regarding what was known prior to the attacks

    September 24, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    President Bush said that "the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people." – Sept 2002 in response to Dems questioning the ceration of the Dept. of Homeland Security

    September 24, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    "These are people that don't want to protect the American people... [T]hey will do anything, spend all the time and – resources they can, to avoid confronting evil." -Tom DeLay, Sept 2002, talking about Dems who critize the "war of Terror" (and specifically in response to Tom Daschle comments)

    September 24, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Michael Burgess (R-TX) said Democrats are "basically giving aid and comfort to the enemy." – May 2004, in response to Murtha criticizing the direction of the war in Iraq

    September 24, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. LBLA

    Lets see here...

    First his biggest failure was that he wasn't telling enough stories:
    Obama(July 12th, 2012): "the mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people... "

    Then his biggest failure was lack of Immigration Reform:
    Obama to a hispanic audiance(Sept 20th 2012):"...my biggest failure so far is we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done."

    And now he says:
    Obama (Sept 22nd, 2012): "My biggest disappointment is that we haven't changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked"

    Come now, Mr President. Enough with the pandering and blindness to your own faults. How about REAL mistakes like a failure to turn the economy around; The failure to protect the US Embassy from an attack we should have seen comming; Failing to halt or hinder Iran in any significant way from its course of gaining a nuclear weapon; Allowing a federal program to hand out guns to mexican cartels, directly resulting in the death of a border patrol agent; Failing to make any progress whatsoever on reigning in the federal defecit. And the list goes on...

    September 24, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claims that terrorists "are going to throw everything they can between now and the election to try and elect Kerry," adding that Democrats are "consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there." -Sept 2004

    Need more proof, "Truth"? Just Google some of the quotes...there are lists online of all the times Dems and liberals were accused of being "against us" or aiding the enemy in some fashion by not just doing whatever the GOP and Bush wanted to do after 9-11. The record is overflowing with examples.

    September 24, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. jsmoulder

    Obama said that he had won and they where going to do things his way, that is where the divide started.

    September 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. ugh

    Yes – you do bear the full responsibility – therefore, Americans should not be voting to have you around for an other 4 years of this incompetence.

    September 24, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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