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. Misleading

    Isn't the headline for this article misleading? Obama didn't say he bears "full responsibility for everything", did he? He's quote in the article as saying, "I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree." Those are two very different statements.

    September 23, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  2. Stopthemadness

    This guy will say anything for a VOTE won't he? LMAO

    September 23, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  3. HenryMiller

    Since everything Obama stands for–big and ever-growing government, government dependency, forcing productive people to support a huge idle class, government interference in private lives and businesses–is thoroughly repugnant to half the American population, he's not about to see "change in the nation's political climate" so long as he keeps trying to jam all that stuff down our collective throats.

    September 23, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  4. RudyG

    Two days ago he said his biggest failure was not doing immigration reform. Today he says his biggest disappointment was not changing the tone in Washington. Sounds like he's compiling a pretty extensive list of failed honey-do's!!

    September 23, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  5. Namebigburnzie2000

    The Republicans already took there recess mean while me as a taxpayer is paying there salary.The earliest since 1960.That means nothing gets done til January.Congress has been a disgrace to Obama.They must go.People can't find jobs and there home sitting on there butt.

    September 23, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  6. California

    eE says this now strictly because of the election, for nothing more. He's pandering on a HUGE scale.

    September 23, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  7. RudyG

    So, he's not disappointed at all that 14 million Americans are unemployed, and he hasn't been able to help them?

    September 23, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  8. alfonds

    He must have told his advisors that the American people wouldn't know any better if he would throw away the, "Change" signs and replace them with "Forward" signs.

    September 23, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  9. NameDon Gibbs

    Give our Potus help.democrat controlled congress that will work with OBAMA. AND AMERICA.NOT THE WEALTHY.They don't need help.Obama/Biden 2012.

    September 23, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Jim

    Yes, leadership is being able to bring both sides together. However, it's not saying "Our goal, our only goal, is to make Presdient Obama a one-term president". You want to work in a bi-partisan manner? Apologize for the narrow-minded statements, and actually do your job, which is to govern with the betterment of our country as your only bias. The Tea Party has been called "The American Taliban" because of their stances on government, religion, education, etc. I dis-agree. They are the American Taliban becauase they are intollerant of change and progress. Progress is what makes the world go around. If you are against progress, then you are against the weel-being of the world.

    September 23, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. Marine1957

    For over three years, Obama's approach to leadership has been to blamecast, rather than to use the power of the presidency to pull the opposing forces together. He almost got it on the budget, then got greedy – poster child for stubborn and mindless partisanship. At no time has he 'manned up' to press for compromise on behalf of the American middle class. There is no way that anyone should believe that a second administration will be any better. If he is reelected, he will still be blaming Bush and the evil 1% as he heads out to another round of golf, while his wife and daughters enjoy yet another vacation at a 5 star resort in a foreign setting.

    September 23, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  12. rep

    Romney can't even make his own campaign better from the inside.

    September 23, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. conoclast

    Romney's reference to Obama's having 'had a democratic House and a democratic Senate' only serves to show his low opinion of Americans' intelligence. Does he think we've never heard of Mitch McConnell?

    September 23, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  14. luke,az

    President Obama, you have done an outstanding job. Thankyou for all that you have done for America and the world. I pray that you will continue leading our nation for four more years.

    September 23, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  15. kellyF

    I agree totally with Obama. Most people are not informed enough to know that there are people in Congress (Republicans) who do not have the American people's best interest at heart. Only their own political goals. These people are sick in the head and need removed. If Obama points out what they are doing to the American people at ever turn, the uninformed will see exactly the game these Repugs are playing with the lives of the American people. Obama should of been doing this at every turn. He realizes this now. It will help him greatly in his second term to out these obstructionist sicko's. I look forward to this disease being removed from the Republican party. Hopefully for them, before it's too late and the party dies completely.

    September 23, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  16. Striker

    "Leadership is not just working with your own party, but working with both parties."
    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."

    Is Romney really that oblivious to what has been going on in Washington for the last 4 years? Not a whole lot of team building being initiated by the Republicans, just a bunch of immature temper tantrums.

    September 23, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  17. cyg

    I think his biggest disappointment is that he has to breathe the same air as a traitor like Romney.

    September 23, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  18. fldemfem

    More constant conversation? Does that mean he is planning to spend his second term on AF-1 flying around giving speeches? That is not governing. Neither is getting Congress to write and pass a huge "healthcare" bill filled with pork and lots of new taxes. In case no one noticed, the health care bill is also the biggest tax hike in US history. Read it and see.

    September 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. silvertop

    President Obama says the same things in 2008, and 2012, makes the same promises. On this issue, he forgot that he is not outside. He is inside, he holds the key. He had both houses for 2 years; and in the 2010 shellacking, a lot of old inside guys were gone. His change ideas just do not work. Time for new leadership!

    September 23, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  20. jk

    Mittens response is the best laugh of this entire year... he can't even bring his comments together with a working brain.... wake up world, the Republicans and the Republican party does not represent the values of the Republican party of 20 years ago, they are not in touch! A lot of Republicans of those values have left the party and are now Democrats,,, You don't see Dems becoming part of the Republican Party....

    September 23, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  21. Gary Shapiro

    President Obama has divided the country, demonized the business community, hurt job creation and shifted us to a culture of entitlement. More welfare, more student loans, more disabled, more unemployment, massive debt. Our kids will hate us for electing him. They will be broke and be in a second or third rate country.

    September 23, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  22. 200 TON HAMMER

    Mr President Obama smile relax the hard working middleclass familes got your back
    they see right through mitt romney scamitis plan he is infected with and senator mitch MCconnell of kentucky is a do nothing lazy turtle head

    September 23, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  23. steven harnack

    "he had a Democratic house he had........." Is Romney really that ignorant about how things have been done for the last 4 years? That unless you can get a majority of 60 in the Senate you can't even get an up or down vote on a bill? Or is he just up to his ususal practice of lying? It IS up to the people to let their representatives know that they are fed up with the do nothing congress and the unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by Republicans. Obama stated something basic and true that he has learned by experience but , in GOP fashion, Romney is too blockheaded to listen to anyone. Pehaps that flaw is why he still says everything is going great while his campaign falls flat on its face?

    September 23, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  24. Name Richard

    It's four more years for President Obama and I predict. He knows how to talk people as
    an adults.

    September 23, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  25. Nate Carreon

    Obama has one disappointment but millions of people who previously voted for him have one disappointment in common among them.

    September 23, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
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