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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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. Lilli

    OK... our President is taking responsibility based on "the buck stops with him" and in most situations, that's true! And after complaining that he had not done so, you folk are still complaining! Pres. Obama will never be able to please some folk! It is what it IS!! And the CHENEY/BUSH mess will take decades to recover from......

    Pres. Obama is the country's best hope for the next four years! If you disagree, then wait for Romney/Ryan in 2016...nope that's Hillary's year. Try 2020!!

    this independent: has signed on with OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    September 24, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Jaded

    @Captain Obvious and FLIndependent... Oh really, the majority of the AMerican people support Obama's policies? Really?.... you might want to think about that a little bit more...

    September 24, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. kica

    I completely disagree with him. President Obama DID try to reach across party lines. He is dealing with an obstructionist congress who only WANT to say "no" for reasons that by now are painfully obvious.

    September 24, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. lionhart

    To all those saying Obama had total control of both houses for 2 years – NOT TRUE!!!!! He only had (filibuster proof) control of both houses for 2 months.

    September 24, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. bought and sold

    you know what i've learned from living in a totally crazy blue state and dealing with bobble headed liberals for most of my adult life is that they truly believe they are the smartest people in the world. I mean how do you deal with that.

    September 24, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Mike

    As much as he liked? Did he want to make it even more divisive? He has taken a campaign promise and turned it 180 degrees around. Promised to change the tone and made it worse by about 100 times.
    And his comment "to some degree"? Are you kidding me? He is the sole responsible person for the current political divide in Washington. He had a chance to change that HE personally chose not to.
    He could have came up with an agreement on the budget and deficit with the Republicans early in his term but chose to change the terms of the agreement that the Republicans had already agreed on much to their dislike.
    This was nobody's doing but his own.
    I like how he adds "to some degree" after saying "I bear full responsibility for everything." Its like saying "its my fault, not really." What complete idiots he must think we are.

    September 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. don in albuquerque

    Well do the majority support Obamas policies? Well put an end to two of W's totally unfunded and unbudgeted wars. Put a muzzle on one of the worst medical systems in world. And oh Yeah, bubbas, there is lots of blame to spread around and most of it (not all) goes to the right wing. Lets see, once again, who do you think started those wars. Obamas biggest mistake was not having W and his crew prosecuted early on for War Crimes.

    September 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Ganan

    @Ram--wow–you truly are ignorant. This presidency is a complete and utter DISASTER-voting for this guy (Obama) is irresponsible.

    September 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. 1termlimits

    Kim, Boston – Yes the easy way. Give the President the house and senate, sure any bozo can sign a law...

    Just answer this, what happend to "Transparency"?

    September 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. NorCalMojo

    After 4 years he finally realizes what it means to be president.

    America isn't ready for a black president. The media won't hold them accountable. It's been excuse after excuse. At that level, there's no room for excuses. That's probably true for anyone but white males.

    September 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. Pete

    @Randy,just what is your effective rate,mine hasn't moved and I'm retired on a fixed income but I bet mine is close to yours..Yours hasn't doubled unless you've worked more or is this another BS republican fact you throw out hoping it'll stick somewhere..You blame your insurence premiums raise but ACA hasn't been inacted yet,give me more crap and your traveling more expensive because of the inherient problems from the Patriot Act,Bushs plan right!!Where were you when the bottom was falling out with Bush,I myself saw it years before selling my personal homes before they tanked,to bad if you weren't smart enough and took a bath.And mind you its not his foriegn policy that created unrest in the middle east he just helped diplomaticly where your republicans would have started wars,no boots in Libya were there,no huge troop involvement in Bin Ladens death just Navy Seals.Romney on 60 Minutes saying you'll get details when I speak to congress,senate if elected,he's delushional as well as mad.But if you Google "Lying for the Lord"you'll see the Romney I've seen all along,a pathelogical liar that expects to win the presidency because he feels he's the chosen one ,ask Ann his wife she'll tell you,that snobby bi_ _h..Romney has to face his challenger at the debates and Romney you know can't run away from his lies,he'll face a man who's fought against racist republicans ever since his inaugeration,you know I'm right since McConnells speech on the Senate floor.So don't talk if your mentor is Romney,he's a delushional Mormon moron that is politically inept like most of these commenting here,no facts just crap thrown out there hoping again if it'll stick making them seem more intelligent,it won't work because you did vote twice for Bush didn't yah!!

    September 24, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. John

    There is one major issue that makes the GOP look foolish....it is the rich vs. middle class....Maximum fed tax rate has gone 260% in last 60 years...91% 1955, 75% 1965, 50% 1985, 39.6% 1995, and 35% in 2005...Similarly the top 2% net equity has increased 900% more than the bottom 98% over the last 20 years....A slight re-distribution (Max fed rate back to 39.6% seems fair to a majority of Americans but not to the GOP.....why?? they never really explain why, so they look foolish...

    September 24, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. davecu

    What I currently think about Barry and him minions, as well as the other parasites on the other side of the aisle, can not be printed.

    Both parties have sold the American people a raft of crap and told us it was chocolate.
    A pox on both your houses!

    September 24, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. davecu

    What I currently think about Barry and him minions, as well as the other parasites on the other side of the aisle, can not be printed.

    Both parties have sold the American people a raft of cr_p and told us it was chocolate.
    A pox on both your houses!

    September 24, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Jackson

    I have to say I do appreciate the fact that Obama is at least willing to say that he takes responsibility.

    September 24, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    NorCalMojo

    After 4 years he finally realizes what it means to be president.

    America isn't ready for a black president. The media won't hold them accountable. It's been excuse after excuse. At that level, there's no room for excuses. That's probably true for anyone but white males.

    September 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
    ===============================================

    An honest conservative....who would have thought ?

    I like how you say it's been nothing but excuses, excuses,but overlook the enormous f*&%^ up that your BOY W was.

    I forgot that Bush had inherited a terrible economy,two wars, debt to China, an unpaid for prescription program,economy in free fall, and unchecked wall street in 2000.

    Tell us how you REALLY feel some more.

    No wonder the president is pushing for stronger education in this country. NorCalMojo you are a great example for 'no adult left behind'

    September 24, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. don in albuquerque

    Dear Bought and Sold. Let me see thanks to Liberals you have --
    Womens Right to Vote
    Blacks riight to vote
    A Declaration of Independence (John Adams, and written by Thomsa Jefferson)
    A Bill of Right
    Social Securitty which took thousands, no millions of elderly off the poverty roles
    Safety in the work place laws
    And a Repub but also a liberal, Abe Lincoln and the Emancipation Act
    And lets not forget probably the greatest Lib of them all Jesus Christ.
    This list goes on and on. All conservatives can show me of late is "Trickle Down" which has ruined this economy. I think I find myself in pretty good company with the libs, with the right wing and Baggerts I find myself in the company of such greats as Benito.

    September 24, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    Some of you on the right posting hear today represent some of the DUMBEST this country has to offer.

    It's like Fox news has scrubbed and washed those brains really good.

    The black guy is the boogeyman !

    Ahhhhh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    September 24, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX

    Can any of your conservatives tell me if Obama is such a HUGE screw up,how come you all don't trot George W. Bush out there to stump for Romney ?

    If W. is so great, he could very well come out and put his 8 year record out there and show us why he did a better job than Obama right ?

    Can ANY of you conservatives explain why W. can't publicly stump for Mitt like Clinton is for the president ?

    September 24, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. CBR

    Be reminded that Mr. Romney now believes it will take at least 8 years to balance the budget. He would need two terms to do so. Of course much of his ability to do so requires the cooperation of Congress. It would also require shifting some of hte costs to the states. Seems that we did that under Reagan and we are still trying to deal with those expenses.

    Let's see Mr. Obama has been President for 3-1/2 years and has not had the support of any Republicans in Congress. The leadership hs made sure that Congress will do nothing to help the President get re-elected. Their immaturity and absolute infantile manners have kept us all hostage. According to them we cannot get out of this mess until Mr. Obama is defeated. Their arrogance ha cost us a lot yet people do not want to blame them. Until we are willing to force the issue and get everyone working to move us forward nothing will happen.

    President Obama needs a term to work with a Congress that is more willing to work together in cooperation and compromise. A win-win situation would get this country back on track. Those Republicans who do not want to work this way should either quite or just stay home without drawing any salary.

    September 24, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Tom

    to: BostonianNTheWoodlandsTX
    I guess you'll be voting for Kerry again as you are still so concerned about Bush.

    September 24, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Larry

    What gridlock obama had a Marjory for two years and passed a helthcare bill that will , in the end will send the country over that clift . He didn't need congress to shut down the Gulf and send gas prices from $1.90 under Mr Bush to a back breaking $4.25 per gal. He didn't need the congress to change welfare work rules , or give more food stamps to the obama 47 % welfare voters . obama didn't need congress to give billions to Solyndra and get himself a little kick back . obama did not need congress to screw up our foreign policy The only thing obama has said that is true is its his fault lie after lie and the middle class makes $4000.00 a year less but obamas 47 % get what the call obama money . lie after lie and obamas war on coal goes on and people lose jobs lie after lie and food prices keep going up . Lie after lie and we get poorer and the democrats just keep sucking up to that 47 % welfare vote and the middle class gets poorer.

    September 24, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  23. SuperD

    Liberals-Democrats take full responsibility! LMAO!

    Obama supporters = Double down on Stupid

    September 24, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. Bessy

    WOW ! The racists and the idiots are out today. I didn't realize that it was a holiday..

    September 24, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. kevin

    The article headline says Obama said "I bear 'full responsibility for everything'"

    But in in the article Obama is quoted as saying "I think that, you know, as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree."

    How the HE-double hockey sticks do you get from "to some degree" to "full responsibility"?

    And to be honest, I've never really hear Obama say "Yep, that's my fault!"

    Ashley Killough is obviously a typicall liberal journist chanting the left's non-stop mantra.

    September 24, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27