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. FLIndependent

    @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."
    _____________________________
    Spot on!!!

    September 24, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. Erik

    That's all u have is a race card? His race doesn't matter. He has failed in every aspect of the job he was elected to do. Black, white, green or purple, an F is an F

    September 24, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. ug

    That is right boy! you are at fault for the misery of this country and we aren't going to let you do any more damage to it! Vote Romney.

    September 24, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Many people seem to like to argue that Obama's party had control of Congress for two years, and they still couldn't get anything done. I'd like to point out that many in the Democratic Party, particularly with regards to the health care law, tried to push Obama further to the left than he would have liked to go. There was still plenty of congressional obstruction going on; Obama tried to write policy as a centrist, but was instead bullied by both of the ideological extremes in Congress.

    September 24, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. FedUp

    I think he has changed the political climate greatly. Too bad it went downhill instead of getting better. If there was any leadership at all from the Oval Office, things may be different. Of course, the partying and campaigning have not stopped for the past 3 years 9 months, so nothing will change.

    September 24, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. Chris

    Both candidates are self-serving and will say anything to be elected/re-elected. We are doomed either way and regardless of who wins, this nation is in irreversible decline.

    September 24, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. Mark

    What a complete joke!

    Obama says, "I think that, you know, as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree," he said on CBS' "60 Minutes."

    So it isn't the buck that stops at Obama's desk, it is just a few nickles and pennies. 'To some degree' he takes the blame.

    Our Commander in Chief is a Joke in Chief.

    September 24, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Bobby

    One of the main expectations of the POTUS is to unite the country. The US has never been this divided in its history. Even during the Civil War there were many folks united to stop it. Being divided will lead to many negative things.

    September 24, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Both candidates are self-serving and will say anything to be elected/re-elected. We are doomed either way and regardless of who wins, this nation is in irreversible decline."

    Numbers prove that wrong....but you go on with your bad self, believing whole-hog everything the GOP says without questions, but then pretending to be upset with both parties.

    September 24, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Demsuck

    Did anyone check to see if Hell froze over? Obama taking responsibility?

    September 24, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. Bwahahahaha

    I bear full responsibility for the mess Bush left me even though it's all his fault! Hahaha.

    September 24, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. Bwahahahaha

    If you think Obama inherited a mess when he took office, think of the bigger mess he'll inherit this time if he gets relected!

    September 24, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Bwahahahaha

    If you think Obama inherited a mess when he took office, think of the much bigger mess he'll inherit this time!

    September 24, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. T-bone

    Then why did he spend 4 years using Bush as a scapegoat?
    Where was this acceptance then?
    Someone realizes its election time so its time to start lying to the masses again.

    September 24, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. demwit

    Well...., not EVERYTHING..

    September 24, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Randy

    FLIndependent, you overstate your case. I do not support most of Obama's policies. Under his leadership, I have seen my effective tax rate double, my insurance premiums increase, and will no longer travel to areas I once enjoyed due to the changing climate brought about by his foreign policy. I feel this administration has failed in too many of the promises made to the American people without taking reponsibility for that failure. We hear Obama saying "the buck stops here" then he turns around and continues to blame the Bush administration. All we seem to get is more sad political double speak.

    September 24, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. Slowgun

    @Bwahahahaha
    If you think Obama inherited a mess when he took office, think of the much bigger mess he'll inherit this time!

    -----------------------------

    Umm...Fox News won't tell you this, but things are actually much better this time around.
    The stock market isn't in free fall and we aren't losing 10,000 jobs a month, like we were when Bush handed the country over to Obama.

    September 24, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. Lisa P

    Terrance Kozak

    ...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
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    This is a lie that originated in the right-wing blogosphere and has been repeated by Fox. The truth - that the Ambassador died of smoke inhalation, and was brought by members of the so-called "mob" to a hospital in Benghazi with no other injuries - was reported by the BBC and the New York Times, among other authoritative and responsible sources. Thanks for making it clear that anyone who wants to know the truth should just tune you out. You're nothing but a megaphone for liars.

    September 24, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Wake up People!

    Only idiots think any president could have come into office with two ongoing wars and a huge debt and miraculously clean up what took 8 years to ruin in less than 3 years. Add to all that members of Congress publicly stating their #1 goal is to make said POTUS a one term Prez. I have heard President Obama called many, many names like dictator and messiah. But it looks to me like the right are the ones that think he is a messiah. He is a man, not a miracle worker. And for anyone naive enough to believe President Obama is the reason why DC is so divided, you are spot on. He is the reason, actually it's the color of his skin that's the reason, and he is in no way responsible for the division. The fact that people can't let go of the past is.

    OBAMA 2012!

    September 24, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  20. CryBabies

    Perhaps taping a session of The View will help his track record. Let H Clinton do the heavy lifting with the leaders from the Middle East. This guy is a real piece of work.....I hope the American voters are wise enough to vote him out!

    September 24, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. cenn

    obama takes full responsibility? That is hilarious. Are we sure this pres isn't one of those virtual holographic agents like they have in airports. He has a siri computer generated response to any question or issue. It's happened. We've already been taken over and don't even know it.

    September 24, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. Katie

    How novel, not to mention refreshing that a leader takes responsibility. How often do you hear that some someone at the very top?

    September 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. NOBAMA2012

    Your biggest disappointment should be you, your self Mr. President, the messiah! The one!!! Raising the oceans, healing the planet...Ahh get the f out, we've had it with you.

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    September 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "will no longer travel to areas I once enjoyed due to the changing climate brought about by his foreign policy"

    That one made me laugh. Seriously. LOL. You were in teh habit of ferquenting Syria I take it? hahahaha....yawn....

    September 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. fairpol

    Obama likes staying home with family instead of being out there rubbing shoulders with Congress members to build rapport and relationship so laws can be passed. Nothing wrong with being a family man. But when you are the president at a critical time, millions of Americans depend on you to get the jobs done. Isn't some personal sacrifice needed when you are running and holding the highest office of the land, and when the country is in such bad shape? Don't average American bread-winners scramble to work as hard as possible, with OT and possible multiple jobs, to provide for the family such that they may not have enough time for the family? That is the sacrifice Americans are making, but Obama can't make that sacrifice while he proudly announces that he is working hard for all Americans. Once again, only nice rhetoric but no action. Yet he has time for rubbing shoulders with Hollywood celebrities, wine and dine with the rich and famous, and have all these rounds of golf. In contrast, when Romney was called on to rescue the Olympics, he worked over 100 hours per week including weekends for over 3 years. He did that for $1 token salary. Romney will work hard for you to get things done when he is elected , just as Ann Romney promises. Otherwise be ready for another 4 years of big talks but no actions from Obama.

    September 24, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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