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. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX


    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 |


    I know DJ right ?

    Because with the Iraq war still in full swing,losing 800k jobs a month, the dow nearly 7k points lower around 6,000,GM about to liquidate, Osama Bin Laden still chilling out somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Wall Street with no regulation robbing us blind.........

    Yes DJ...I can clearly see how in January 2008 we had NO problems and President Obama came in and just messed it up. How could we not see that ?

    September 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Jocho Johnson

    Romney calls Democrats the "opposition", the only "opposition" should be the state of the country not individuals. In theory everyone in government should want what is best for the country. But Romney only wants what is best for the rich.

    September 24, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. obamafan

    Responding to Penny Wright, couldn't have said it better!!!

    September 24, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. ghostriter

    DJ, 4 years ago, conservatives said if we elected Obama, this country would be in ruins. Now they are saying the same thing. What, were you guys off a few years?

    Enough of blaming the mythical liberal bias. Republicans tried extremely hard to pin Obama to that whole "You didn't build that" nonsense. And the media, who loves a good story, ran with it. Regardless of how factually inaccurate the issue was.

    If Obama had said what Romney said, you guys would have had a field day. Don't be mad cause your guy got caught.

    September 24, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. milan milenkovic

    My the biggest concerns right now are: unemployment, dysfunctional Congress , US economy and houses market depression… Other Countries will NOT wait for us, should we move forward or keep status quo and play political games ( like we did in Congress during last 4 years). Example: second BRICS meeting in India, on 03.28.12, for there better economy! “ I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘ my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions… Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term”… ( and she is) “tired of the gridlock that has paralyzed Congress”. (Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, (CNN on 02.28.12.). This is one more conformation why only 11% Americans support Congress, why is huge gap between Congress and American people, why our government is divided… “ …Obama blamed the unrelenting recession on a decade of Republican control in Washington and the weak recovery on a Congress gridlocked by Republicans intent on thwarting his agenda…

    September 24, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. bob

    Obama may not have gotten everything done that I would have liked, but Romney and the Republican agenda is not a viable alternative. To say to a country coming out of a recession that we have to tighten our belts by cutting social programs that we've already paid into, at the same time you want to give tax breaks to the upper tiers just sounds nuts.

    September 24, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. TY

    Whats wrong with some of you people. Obama is Commender and Cheif......congress is the one that vote on jobs bills and this congress has not voted on any bill. Vote those Rep out......

    September 24, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. davia55

    didn't Obama state, if he failed after his first term.....he would quit. Oh Yeah....don't pay attention to my promises, I will just appoligize and all will be ok.

    September 24, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |

    "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.

    What a bunch of bull. We can't trust this nimrod! He'll get us in a war with Iran.

    September 24, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. Mike

    I disagree with Obama here. He does not bear full responsibility for the lack of action by Congress. The Republicans have created the most obstructionist agenda ever, refusing to pass laws that they themselves developed years ago, just because it would put a feather in Obama's cap. Most recently, they refused (through fillibuster threat) to pass a law that would provide job training for veterans, who face higher unemployment than the rest of the country as they return from war. Do you think they would have passed that bill if a Republican president put it forward? Of course they would. Their explicitly stated priority has been ousting Obama. Somewhere further down the list is serving their country through legislation. That responsibility is squarely in the Republicans' laps, and Obama need not apologize or assume responsibility for the worst GOP-addled Congress in history

    September 24, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    Well Bush did leave the president two wars, 10 TRILLION in debt, money borrowed from China to pay for those wars, 4 TRILLION in tax cuts over ten years, a job market shedding 800k jobs a month in January 2009, a dow at about 6,000 points.

    I mean what in the world is the president thinking ? He should dog gone well take responsibility for all that.

    I mean before January 2009 none of those issues were a concern to us living in reality right ?

    September 24, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. thelazycomic

    I'd say the tone in Washington has changed. It's at an all-time low. The majority of people are so fed up with government. I know of nobody who thinks they're doing a great job... probably because they're not.

    September 24, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Captain Obvious

    Republicans to the American people: We realize that you favor Obama's policies by a wide margin on just about every single issue. But because we control Congress, we're not going to pass a single law supporting those policies. Therefore, you should vote for a Republican president whose policies you don't support, but we'll be more than happy to pass.

    September 24, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. demwit

    But, but.., didn't we have a 2/3rds super majority for the first two years/? What is he talking about.., bearing what??

    September 24, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  15. Wilson

    Romney 14 points ahead of obama with middle class voters.....the desperation of the lefty posters on here is hilarious!!! Some are even posting like obama is running against bush!! More are resorting to name calling, I guess not realizing that sends their credibility right out the window.

    September 24, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  16. Abe Lincoln

    My biggest frustration, Barack, is your incompetency to lead America to prosperity. You are a pandering demigogue that has divided America into a psychotic and floundering mess. Resign immediately.

    September 24, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. Atul Chaudhary

    So Mr President, how would work with some of the same folks that were there in your first term?

    Very smartly, you showed that you will never take responsibility for your own failure. If you did then you wouldn't have blamed Congress.

    One change did happened that GWB's name didn't show up otherwise all your failures are due to GWB. 🙂

    September 24, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. DC Observer

    Would that include the 16 trillion in debt; the 23 million on unemployment; the 47 million on food stamps; the 8+% unemployment rate since you took office;the increase in gas proces and the decrease in new federal drilling permits; the lack of a pipeline; no energy policy; a relaxing of work requirements for welfare; Solyndra; no tax reform; no progress with Iran or North Korea; no deficit reduction as promised; no medicare reform or social security reform; the lack of a single solitary budget being passed by your Democratically controlled Senate during your entire term; the lack of immigration reform; the lack of transparency; the highly partisan atmosphere; the totally irrelevant and disgusting you and your press aide Burton are unning against Romney; the lies you have told us for 4 years; and the continuing support for a corrupt Afghan government?

    Just checking..

    September 24, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. Joe

    Obama set the tone for DC and the nation and it was all negative. If you plant a seed in the desert it will not grow. The problem with Obama he never plant any seeds anywhere. Obama is a complete failure.

    September 24, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. Freeb

    The President is the real deal. He's intelligent, gritty tough when needed, and wants to improve the lives of those Americans who need it most.

    Romney takes the opposite position on all of these points.

    September 24, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. jimbob

    Yea, Romney, Obama had a Democratic house and senate – but, the Republicans filibustered everything to death so no bills could get thru. How convenient you skim over that situation!!

    September 24, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. FLIndependent

    I find most statements from Romney supporters to be very hypocritical in that they are constantly saying government needs to get out of the way and it is the problem, yet they are obviously expecting Romney, as President, to fix their lives. They say government doesn't create jobs, but blame President Obama for the unemployment rate. Romney could easily help ease the unemployment in this country without being president if he truly cared – all he has to do is bring his $$$ he has hidden off shore into this country and create businesses...why doesn't he do that? You people are being fooled by Romney and Ryan as they do not care for the average American, only the rich that will fill their pockets. President Obama is not perfect and has made some mistakes but I believe he truly is trying to move our country forward and build a strong economic foundation for the future which will take at least another term to complete. Remember, he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth like Romney and knows the struggles we go through. If he had the cooperation of Congress things would be much better and moving more quickly forward.

    September 24, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. rc

    everyone is complaining about the president .which of the president did good when they had the chance to be the president.instead of helping ,you guys always complaining and fighting amongst each other .that's doesn't solve anything.who ever will be president they still won't make a different cause the same think will happen again.it is time to worry about ur own country then other country.

    September 24, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Mike

    How refreshing it is to have a president who will own up to his failures. That is the kind of president I want for another four years. Not someone who is blaming the other guy as Romney. Romney as of yet still can't seem to tell us what HE will do for us but only tell us what O has not done for us. I actually do not think that he has a plan if elected other than destroy all that helps the poor man.

    September 24, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. TY


    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!

    You are mis informed. The Gov did not create nothing. All of these jobs came from the goverment bail out. Also when we was attacted who watch was it on. Your post is words that does not deal with facts. You and the right wingers are just alike YOU Lies all the time. But just remember this to be a good liar you have to have a good memory and i think you have forgotten the facts........

    September 24, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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