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. NOBAMA2012

    We love this country and will stop Hussein from destroying it.

    September 24, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Then why did he spend 4 years using Bush as a scapegoat?"

    How dense are you guys...really? Do you not recognize that Obama was referring to X and that explaining how Bush's and the GOP's economic policies got us in this mess is Y? Oh wait...I forgot Teatroll posting protocol..."read headline and vomit knee-jerk talking point...avoid reading article in full at all costs."

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

    Hahahahah....LOL...so...was it or was it not Bushes fault, congresses fault, the fault of the wealthy, the bankers, the ...the...racist cambridge police....not knowing how bad it REALLY was when he made those promises? Do we need to go on. For him or against...enought words, speeches and things have been said that it ceomes laughable when he adds more to his cesspool of words. Suggestion for the next guy- stay out of the news, check your ego and disappear until needed. We do not need a daily accounting of the economy, who is to blame, words, words and more words that will only be negated or negate those already dispersed. Let us please have some peace and quite once in a while. Pollution is all around.

    September 24, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. phactchecker

    Geez Folks he said the buck stops with him .. stop trying to disect every word he says .. the reality is legislation was put out and republicans all voted against it.. So yes Some degree.

    September 24, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Bara-ck Hu-ssein Owe-bama is DONE

    Do i smell failure?

    September 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Lisa P


    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
    Well then quit trying to divide it. The President isn't your mommy, nor is the the super-dictatorial boogeyman that the right wing nut cases like to paint him as, when they aren't claiming he is "weak" and "ineffectual." Grow up and take some responsibility for getting things done or this country really is sunk. Obama has always said that WE are the change we've been waiting for. If the country's become a bunch of do-nothing whiners following around Fox News like a bunch of bleating sheep then whose fault is that? Not Obama's - he was trying to reform health care and re-regulate the banking system and change the tax code and get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, God help him! As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

    September 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "Many people seem to like to argue that Obama's party had control of Congress for two years"

    The MSM likes to perpetuate the misrepresentation that Obama's party had control of Congress for two years.

    FIFY 🙂

    September 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. Tork

    Funny world. president thinks he is talking to someone stupid and I am listening to someone who is stupid. Must be the Ying Yang of politics.

    September 24, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Anonymous said "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."

    What does that say about Obama's leadership when he cannot get his own party behind him to do things efficiently? He took on healthcare rather than the economy and had to fight his own party to get it passed...wasting precious time and money on something so controversial that it cost Democrats the Kennedy MA Senate seat and then the midterm elections. That is as close to the definition of failed leadershiip as you can get.

    September 24, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Bara-ck Hu-ssein Owe-bama is DONE

    It went from YES WE CAN to NO I CANT

    September 24, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. Larry

    Wow, Randy – you can't travel where you used to go because of Obama's foreign policy? Where was that – Iraq? All the changes in Mid East Govts were his fault? Insurance premiums increased – Obama's fault? The profits of that particular insurance provider stayed the same did they? Effective tax rate doubled – did your income double? Oh you say you are a Florida Independent – is your last name Bush?

    September 24, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. hello

    right. full responsibility. what a guy.

    September 24, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. nobama

    So he's not disappointed that gas prices have doubled? The Mid East is in deeper turmoil. An Ambassador was killed despite warnings that trouble was coming? That median incomes have dropped to 1996 levels? That food prices are rising much faster than the rate of inflation? That Joe Biden thinks there are 650,000 troops still in Afghanistan and "jobs" is a 3 letter word?

    September 24, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. mike58

    full responsibility Mr. President??
    Ok then your fired

    September 24, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. EKIA

    "To some degree" What a failure

    Romney/Ryan 2012!!!

    September 24, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. 2+2=5

    I see the right still has an issue taking on responsibility for their votes in the past, so why should Obama or others care much about now? Oh right, because we are adults that don't take something like this seriously enough to go to town on and repost 5 times over. Right... When you grow up, let me know, and Randy, you may want to check out how the Senate and Congress are doing sometime soon that was elected to work with the president to fix some of these issues. Next...

    September 24, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. calvin

    Obama is a jimn carter times 10 he had total control of both house of congress and still could not write a health bill that you can read and understand. now the democrots control 2/3 of the goverment and still can get a good law passed. they only blame the GOP never them self there quote when a bill come to them dead on ariveal. so who screwing up the works.

    September 24, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. 2+2=5

    If you want to be taken seriously, then everyone has to admit their faults, not just some. And considering Bush was this long ago and some still would like to blame Obama for the failing economy he left us, well, that is on you buddy to continue your education where it ended over twelve years ago. Meanwhile, you guys simply fail to recognize that things would be so much worse without the steps taken to stabilize the economy. Get with the program and get back to us. Can't wait for the debates, should be a fun time.

    September 24, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  19. 2+2=5

    Oh, and by the way, way to historically obstruct and turn the other cheek on middle class hard working Americans, when you vote on something for others and not just yourself, you will let me know right?.... because take everything that is said by the right, and realize its said through their personal viewpoint, and not the viewpoint of the rest of America, in the end, you stand only for YOU. And why you continue to lose.

    September 24, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. Jules

    Anyone who thinks the groundwork for what has happened to the economy in this country was laid since 2009 doesn't know a thing about the economy. This has been a long time coming and thank you to President Barack Obama who put the skids to the downhill slide. Now we have another GOP candidate with the same perscription that was offered by George W. Bush. How'd that work out for you the last time?

    September 24, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. 2+2=5

    I clearly remember Bush complaining to the heavens about Clinton....oh wait....or right...next.. you guys just can't accept reality, that is your inevitable problem. Enjoy the day!

    September 24, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. boo

    I can't imagine how we can re-elect this man. If we want to stay in this stagnant stew of misery then it's our own fault. If we want economic growth and a fighting chance to dig our way out of this hole then we know who to elect. The American economy works. And the world needs us now.

    September 24, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. Dan

    "I take FULL responsibility for EVERYTHING........... to a degree......"

    Want some syrup to go with that waffle?
    Man, it's bad enough to waffle, but, in one sentence??

    September 24, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. luckjoe

    BO needs to GO

    September 24, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. Brian in DC

    Of course he says he bears full responsibility but then immediately blames "others", the Blamer in Chief strikes again.

    September 24, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
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