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. Tammy lambert chandler az

    But even if Romney had a relationship with members of the opposition party, it didnt help. Romney left his state of Massachusetts with feeling of hopelessness. Job market stagnated and people complained everything he did was to benefit himself.... some citizens stated he was narcissistic.

    September 24, 2012 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  2. Mickey1313

    Obama should not cave to the gop terrorists. Keep letting the people know that it is the refusal of republicans to compromise that has gridlocked washington forthe past 4 years. Obama has done good while the gop whines and complains. 4 more years,i truly hope.

    September 24, 2012 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  3. Tom

    That's a great true headline... it's a shame he's lying again....

    September 24, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  4. Name

    The problem isnt the President, the problem is the Republicans in Congress that have dedicated their energy to bringing down this administration. They have said it was their number one priority. Not reducing the debt, not putting people back to work, not fixing the tax code, Social Security, or Medicare, not putting the best interest of the nation first...no, its been making Obama a one term President.

    September 24, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  5. CRinker

    If you would spend as much time with your jobs committing, the budget committee and republicans as you did with celebrities and fundraising and golfing, you might have made a dent in the political climate.

    September 24, 2012 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  6. scallions1

    Romney says he wants to work with both parties to lead. He sure hasn't shown that in his actions. This man likes to say good things about himself and then show his true colors when he thinks no one is listening. I wouldn't trust him as president any more than I trusted Tricky Dick.

    September 24, 2012 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  7. scallions1

    Romney likes to say good things about himself in public and then shows his true colors when he thinks no one is listening. I wouldn't trust him to be president for anything. He and his partner Ryan think nothing of lying to get elected, and the plans they have so far announced make me scared.

    September 24, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  8. Corwin7

    So you could then give us a list of the members of the democratic party that you have a relationship of "Respect and Trust" with currently Mitt? Please...see the problem with using cut throat tactics with ruthless fanaticism is that your opponents invariably mimick them, and you end up with the lie and cheap shot infested campaign your currently involved in. We democrats learned our lesson after 9/11 when we "rallied around our president during a time of national emergency" only to have him use it as an excuse to invade Iraq for his rich oil buddies. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

    September 24, 2012 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  9. Txpharm

    I voted for Obama, but then he took a sharp left turn, spent the next 2 years ignoring unemployment to unilTerally ram a 2700 page monster entitlement bill down the throats of an electorate that did not want it. ghat is unprecedented. Obama is running for re election by demonizing successful people Nd openly embracing wealth redistribution. He and other Dems are determined to turn the US into A Euro style Welfare state, which will never work with our aging population and other demographic factors. Guess we owe this to the religious nuts on the GOP that prevent a moderate from being nominated.
    Tragic. it's too late now. the US is officially in decline. The 21st century belongs to Asia. Democrats will extend what they have done to California to the US. We will be a nation with highest taxes, half the population vegetating on their front porches while the other half works to pay them. All the smart people Nd businesses will leave the US and take their money with them. Like Ca, we will have the ultra rich, a tiny middle class made up of government workers, and masses of entitlement recipients. Like Ca, everyone else will flee. Buy gold now.

    September 24, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  10. Epidi

    "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. He's right – we have to change it by voting the bozos in Congress out. If they can't do what's right for the people and the country instead of bickering over Dem or Repub – they need to look for another job!

    September 24, 2012 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  11. Anonymous

    The ability to admit one's own mistakes is one of the cardinal traits of a good leader. Obama isn't displaying weakness with his comments. If anything, he has shown himself to be more of a man. If only Mitt Romney would admit his party's contribution to the gridlock in Washington.

    September 24, 2012 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  12. Dar

    Obama punked the republican party from the start and then begged them to come back for more after he lost the house.
    Of course it was his way or the highway type of begging. So the republicans said Bye Bye.

    If Romney thinks that he can bring both party's together with a smile, he is in for a big suprise.
    Obama has created so much devide between the people of our great country that it may take a miricle to fix it now.
    Blessings to all.

    September 24, 2012 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  13. John Kaufman, Oceanside, CA

    If you the American voter listened CAREFULLY to the 60 minute aired program last night, especailly the second part when Steve Croft and Scott Pelly asked each candidate the same questions, you had one candidate who answered the questions straight forward and the other answered with vague, deflected, and even not answering the most of the same questions asked. If you could not distingush this FACT, then you are very stupid, and apparently can't do much in critical thinking, and listening as an adult. How then do you function as a adult? Please Mr. President, also get your facts STRAIGHT, and yes I am challenging you on some of your quoted facts some of which I know are flat wrong!

    September 24, 2012 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  14. Eric Sotelo

    This president loves to point the finger. While he attempts to give an apology, he is actually pointing the finger to remove any responsibility from himself. He still loves to point the finger at the previous presidencies and yet, not one ounce of responsibility for his wasted tax stimulus in the tune of 7 TRILLION dollars to date. PRES O? GET A LIFE MAN, you need to come clean and stop your lying you ol devil..

    September 24, 2012 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  15. td

    Really? Be more in touch with the American people? REALLY??? All I've ever gotten is a request for donations – never a response to a question. We've gotten "change" all right – and it's all been downhill. Pretty bad when Bush looks good. We need a clean sweep – a president who will move us forward and a congress who will work for their constituents and not their donors. I've had about all the "change" I can handle. I have been a registered Democrat all my adult life – but thanks to this president and the party agenda I am ashamed of my party affiliation. THAT'S the change I am making.

    September 24, 2012 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  16. Sheeple

    Maybe what he is sayings is he wish it became more socialist or more communist than it already is. He failed his mentors agendas.

    September 24, 2012 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  17. Chedar

    Romney you are dealing with 87% democrat which are better education with advanced intelligent. Obama has to deal with your party's elected officials in congress and they are all intellectually challenged.

    September 24, 2012 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  18. ironmike

    The MSM love fest with Obama continues. Both Obama and Romney were on Sixty Minutes last night but you would hardly know it by this article have to get to the bottom before Romney even gets mentioned. Nice Fair and Balanced coverage their CNN. No wonder you're losing viewers.

    September 24, 2012 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  19. Bribarian

    Very mature of Mr. Obama, seems that each day that goes by Obama comes out shows himself to be a reasonable individual.

    September 24, 2012 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  20. Eddie

    How can you shake hands when the other side of the aisle (Republicans) only makes a fist?
    For bipartisanship you need 2!

    September 24, 2012 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  21. Richard Schwab

    Well look at what he was handed? The days of the USA being a super power is drawing to a close. The days of electing somebody to fix the mess of the predecessor, also drawing to a close. It's called reality. All this while I take a dump. Down the toilet, just like the economy.

    September 24, 2012 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  22. An Observer

    What Mitt the Twit failed to mention is that nothing moves through the Senate without 60 votes and this is because republicans refuse to work with the President. They filibuster everything he proposes, even items they themselves have proposed in the past so what Romney is saying is basically a lie.

    September 24, 2012 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  23. Iamnotfooled

    What President Obama should do is make them stay at work more. Then things could actually get done. They get paid good money and have the best benefits . And they are gone most of the time. Cut their pay.

    September 24, 2012 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  24. Liliana

    Unless the two parties begin to love this country, unless they stop working against each other for the only purpose for their party to win, we will not accomplish anything. This great country of ours will go down on its knees.
    We the people, will suffer, we are losing big time already, they have to find the courage to work together.
    I wonder if they know that we are profoundly depressed. Please help us!

    September 24, 2012 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  25. rocinante

    He who has reached across the aisle may cast the first stone.


    September 24, 2012 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
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