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. Darlene

    You want to create jobs an for those who want there own business ventures. then quit giving these land investors tax breaks for un rented properties they don't care if they ever rent them out. They ask ridiculous amount of money for leasing the square footage has got to get under control . come President Obama how can any one stay in business by paying $900. For less than 80 sq ft? I couldn't an no one else can for any length of time. even the Big Franchises can't stay in business with sky high leasing. get that under control an more people will work outside the home!

    September 24, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. seebs

    If I have to pick between a guy who is capable of acknowledging that he hasn't succeeded, and a guy who believes that to ever apologize is a sign of weakness, I'll vote for the guy who is emotionally mature enough to acknowledge errors, because he could conceivably improve. The guy who never thinks he's wrong can't get better.

    September 24, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. ramble3144

    Thw world's disappointment will come after Obama's re-election and his dismantling of capitalism. See, the world's economy depends on the major semi-capitalist country left.

    September 24, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. norma jean

    Bush left a mess....the repubs refused to help clean it up and now everyone is blaming Obama.....It doesn't matter who is president he will still be trying to clean this up and getting blamed for it all!! If you think Romney can do it ...I question your judgement but then .......You will get the bllame...Remember Romney thinks half of all Americans are free-loaders!!!!!!!HE SAID SO!!!!!!!!!!!VERY PLAINLY!!!!...........!IT'S ABOUT TIME THE REPUBS GET BLAMED FOR SOME OF THIS MESS WHICH THEY STARTED AND THEN TURNED THEIR NOSES UP AT A NEW PRESIDENT INSTEAD OF TRYING TO HELP...GUESS THEY AREN'T A PART OF THIS COUNTRY!!.

    September 24, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. skarphace

    If Romney is elected, you can fully expect the Democrats to do exactly what the Republicans did to Obama his first term: obstruct everything our President intends to do and then call him a failure for it.

    We need to show these obstructionists that we want something done the next four years. We need to re-elect Obama, which would force the Repubicans to work with him if they want a chance to lead in 2016. So far, they have not earned the right to lead.

    September 24, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. nitrox1020

    No one should forget what happened after January 20th, 2007, when the DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS.

    After which they added $4 trillion to the national debt (+45.3%), tripled the deficit, increased the debt limit by $5.33 trillion (+59.4%), turned the projected $800 billion surplus over the ten-year period FY 2008-2017 into a $9.7 trillion deficit, doubled unemployment, legislated billions in payoffs to state unions and union pensions, created record poverty, record food stamp enrollment, record foreclosures, record-low private sector pay, record-high government pay, undertaken government takeovers of our economy, added ruinous new taxes and regulations, ruined our healthcare system, and utterly crippled business, confidence, and prosperity in America.

    September 24, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. nitrox1020

    No Dem or leftist can list for any of us any good Bama policy for all Americans. Not one. Obamacare? No, 64% want it repealed. Jobs? No. Underemployment up to 23%. Border solutions? Nope. Deals over the Debt. Nope. The Pubs should not cave to this regime. Energy? Nope. All green baloney will not give us all energy we need now and in the next few years. Love for the exceptionalism of America. Nope.
    Pubs do not realize that the public is on their side for once and Bama is the leftist tyrant who is killing our free enterprise system and our economy and republic.

    September 24, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. Erik

    The only hope Obama has is the left wing media hiding his failures and lying to discredit the GOP. Liberal America has gone too far...have too much control...middle America...lets balance the equation.

    September 24, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. lloyd

    My advise to american voters, Any candidate the press is behind head in the opposite direction. People who are gifted orators get very little done in practical terms. people who are gifted in speech seldom get any practical plan work.

    September 24, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. kayla

    president obama, a class act.

    September 24, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Erik

    I personally own one of businesses Obama and his party of change claims I did not build...really? There are Americans that buy his garbage? Oh yeah, same 47perc that pay no taxes and walk around with their hands out. Gimme gimme

    September 24, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Reydolf

    We all know republican's priority is make his presidency a living hell yet this man takes responsibility taking all the criticism for what the hate party have been doing. This takes alot of balls specially on election year.

    September 24, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. Erik

    Obama...not the campaign of change, the campaign of gimme everything I need cause I don't wanna work

    September 24, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Lisa P


    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 p
    DJ, if anything is "ruining this once great nation" it's people like you who mindlessly repeat Fox News talking points without a glimmer of a thought of perhaps trying to find out something on your own or to think about what that might mean. President Obama is not even close to a socialist. Anyone who has been watching the situation in the Middle East and North Africa over the last few years would be surprised that things have been turning out so well compared to the doom and gloom uncertainty of a year and a half ago (not that it couldn't get worse; democracy is a very messy process). And President Obama would be mighty foolish to let Israel be the tail that wags the dog on Iran. Remember the Marines in Beirut? Israel is more than happy to let the US look after Israeli interests but that doesn't always work out so well for the US. The President needs to put US interests first; *that's* what Israel is screaming about at the moment.

    September 24, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Little Jimmy Truth

    Obama failed to aid America. That's his own fault to fail America. That's not first time about Democrats and Republicans didn't get along.

    Andrew Jackson worked hard showed toughness while Democrats and Republicans didn't get along. Then America was successful. Obama failed to be tough for leading depression.

    September 24, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. mikey

    So sad that appearing on the "view" was more important than addressing the United Nations. Campaigning is more important to him that governing.

    September 24, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Chicago

    Obama has failed at just about everything in his 4 years. How could anyone vote for this guy? I suppose if you promise everything free to just about everyone it is going to get you some votes. He's like the ultimate politician. Vote for me and get a free puppy...and people would believe him. Unreal. Very sad...and very scary at the same time. I can't see how anyone could justify voting again for this guy. Too many are unemployed to stick with the status quo. And frankly the 16 trillion in debt is getting to the point that we may not be able to turn it around. At least Greece has someone to bail them out...who is going to bail out the United States? It is too important folks, vote for the guy that will get our finances under control. To me it is obvious Romney has the skills. There is a reason the "empty chair" was such a big deal. It's because we all know it is the truth.

    September 24, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. FLIndependent

    I'm throwing in the towel on all you Obama haters – it boggles my mind how many of you believe the lie that President Obama had a full Dem House & Senate the first two years and could pass anything he wanted. He only had a filibuster proof Congress for a very short time (less than a year). Most everything was stopped by the Republicans by record filibusters, Also, if you believe he is a socialist then why on earth would you have wanted his policies to pass? None of you make any sense and it is very troubling that you will vote. It is also hypocritcal that you say you don't believe in government and that it is the problem, yet you think Romney, as President, will give you a job and make your life better. If he truly cared and wanted to help the economy and create jobs he could have been doing so all these years by investing his $$$ here and creating businesses instead of stashing his money offshore and running for president. Romney does not care about you, he is just running for president for the power & to further enrich himself and his buddies and, the most frightening part, to help his buddy Netanyahu attack Iran.

    September 24, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "didn't we have a 2/3rds super majority for the first two years/?"

    Nope, the Dems DID NOT. Kennedy was absent due to his illness throughout 2009 unti he passed away in August 2009. Franken was busy in court over a recount of the votes that was designed to prevent him from taking his seat in the Senate. Brown was sworn in on February 4, 2010. SO NO, THE DEMS DID NOT HAVE A FILIBUSTER PROOF MAJORITY IN THE SENATE FOR 2 YEARS. That nonsense is a blatant lie easily disproven by the record. The very very best you could claim would be about 1 year, from Obama swearing in at the end of January 2009 to Brown swearing in February 2010, but that ignores the realities of Kennedy's passing and Franken being stuck in court over his election.

    September 24, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. Terrance Kozak

    Greeting from Canada, the land of true freedom...Nice to hear Obama "take responsibilty." For it was he whose party ran the House and Senate for the first two-and-a-half years and did nothing to help the economy. As Obama said mere days after he was elected, he turned to the GOP and said "I won." It was he who divided the parties with his arrogance and his group of Nancy Pelois and Harry Reid. It was Obama who took states to court whenever they disagreed with any policy he put in place. It was Obama that turned over ownership of Gneral Motors to the UAW and to his government, only costing the taxpayers a mere $25 billion! It was under Obama that 60% of the jobs created during his term have been minimum-wage jobs. It was Obama that said the GOP had declared war on women but has not done a thing about women White House staff making an average of 16% less than male counterparts working the same jobs in the White House. It was Obama that decided that his green enery cars were more important than giving the okay to the Keystone Oil Project and an additional 2.5 billion barrels of oil a day coming into the USA. It was under Obama that we have seen 45 million Americans on food stamps. The stimulus? How about the $600 billion in stimulus funds that have gone overseas to create jobs there instead of the USA? How about Solyndra? Why provuide security overseas during the anniversary of 9-11 when you can just allow a US ambassador to be sodomized, murdered and dragged through the streets? Stay tuned...More to come...

    September 24, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Andrew

    You're done well, Barack. With all the obstruction and racial hatred, I hold that you've done an outstanding job cleaning up the GOP's mess.

    September 24, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Erik

    I personally own one of the businesses Obama and his party of change claims I did not build…really? There are Americans that buy his garbage? Oh yeah, same 47perc that pay no taxes and walk around with their hands out. Gimme gimme

    September 24, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. ghostriter

    nitrox, I think you are remembering the conservative view of what happened in 2007. Most of us remember a recession beginning. Of course, that would have started BEFORE 2007. Let's see.....who had the white house, both houses of congress at that time.......?

    September 24, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. GG

    Obama accepts full responsibility for what? The deficit and his inability to get it under control?

    September 24, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. stambo

    I take full responsibility, to some degree. Let us say that I take 1 degree of full responsibility. Yes, I take 1 degree of responsibility, all the other degrees of responsibility belong to others. Mostly Bush.

    September 24, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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