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. Matt

    For all the ridicule, Eastwood was right. Obama simply is not doing the job of creating jobs. An anemic growth in jobs, with the unemployment rate not budging. Time to let him go, and "give someone else a chance." I'm no fan of Romney, but I'm willing to try a new president to get Americans back to work.

    September 24, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  2. Cris Ranston

    Obama IS the disappointment. He will be reelected because Mitt Romney should NEVER be President.

    September 24, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  3. William

    A bit from another non-Fox site:
    "CBS aired a 60 Minutes interview with President Obama. But curiously enough, the news magazine show did not air a clip of Obama admitting to interviewer Steve Kroft that some of his campaign ads contain mistakes and that some even "go overboard."
    Can the bias get any thicker?

    September 24, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  4. rla

    "I bear some responsibiity -to some degree" Wow and he still wants to be president.. Surprised he didn't try to blame Bush for his and his parties failure to accomplish anything.. Oh yea he did manage to divide us more than at any time in our history!!!

    September 24, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  5. Name Rogie Shutt

    The American people do not want to be owned by the government like the Chinese people who have had their businesses and homes taken away. The American people own the government not the government owns the people

    September 24, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  6. Guest

    says O'blamer. Who did he blame for skipping his intel and missing the embassy warnings. Now our ambassador and staff are dead. The mainstream media has hardly mentioned this failure. If this were Bush, there would riots in the street about this incompetence. Obama's apology tour has not worked.

    September 24, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  7. CraigM

    This guy is playing on the sympathy of the American people.......he doesn't care about changing the climate in Washington but about changing the history and culture of America and our way of life, our liberties, and our religious outlooks. He must be defeated for the sake of the Republic.

    September 24, 2012 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  8. Robert

    Like Harry Truman said.."the buck stops here!"

    September 24, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  9. John T

    The current headline has the phrase "full responsibility for everything" in quotes - but the article then quotes Obama as saying, "as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree." This strikes me as poor journalism: not only does the headline place a word in the president's mouth that he didn't actually say, but that added word CHANGES the meaning of what he said! "Full responsibility" carries the connotation of sole and total responsibility, while "responsibility to some degree" merely implies a share in the responsibility. In other words, the headline makes it sound as though Obama is saying, "I'm to blame for the stalemate," when what he really said was, "I'm partly to blame" (sharing responsibility with the Republicans in Congress). I, for one, would appreciate an amended headline.

    September 24, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  10. j791

    Can't argue with the man, he says it's his fault and he's right. Time to move forward with someone who can get past the gridlock. He couldn't get past it in his first term nor will he get past it in his second term.

    September 24, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  11. MollyBee

    The GOP needs to come down from the "high horse" and represent ALL Americans if it wants to survive. It has become the party of right-wing fanaticism and that just ain't gonna work in this great country.

    September 24, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  12. BD70

    All well and good Romney but they were willing to work with you. What do you do about the tea party reps who compromise on nothing? It is their way or no way.

    September 24, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  13. LS

    The contrast of quality and character between our President the other guy is so stark.

    September 24, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  14. Guest

    1 in 6 on food stamps. The middle class is disappearing because there are NO jobs.

    September 24, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  15. LS

    All Americans should be disappointed in the Republican Congress that set out to obstruct any positive changes for Americans if the bills or ideas came from this President. I would like to see them answer for that. It is shameful.

    September 24, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  16. sgurdog

    We're not going to give Romney a chance to change it from the inside. Dude can't even run an effective campaign.

    September 24, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  17. BinaryTooth

    Oversee change? He lead the political division!!!!!!!

    September 24, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  18. thetruth

    "we haven't changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked,". Yeah right!!! The political climate in Washington and across the country is worst than its ever been. The entire country is divided.

    September 24, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  19. NameAnita

    Cbs was very soft on obama. It seemed that obama knew what questions were going to be asked. So much for objective jourmalism. But what else can we expect from cbs?

    September 24, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  20. Get a job Hippies

    OK so you are telling me the guy who has spent the last 3.75 years blamming W for everything now says the buck stops with him? Must be the polling data that made him change his mind. I hope we get rid of this guy in 6 weeks.

    September 24, 2012 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  21. Surfer George

    Taking Responsibility as Commander In Chief is not the same as taking the blame for the actions of those who refused to use the process for the good of the people.

    I know, I KNOW, some will make the argument that obstructionism IS taking care of the Country, of the People, but it's not.
    If GWB was elected to a second term "with a mandate," then Republicans SHOULD have been following President Obama around like baby ducks, but that didn't happen... NOTHING LIKE THAT happened.

    We the people voted for the change that Republicans are preventing. President Obama is "responsible" in that he tried to work with them, that he believed in the process, in the Country, in Patriotism not partisanship. He's "responsible" in that he didn't take a MUCH stronger stance against them.

    I blame Republicans for keeping America from getting what we voted for.

    September 24, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  22. Gurgyl

    Folks., I never mislead nor misguide–just vote for Direct Democratic ticket and OBAMA12.
    PS: I am a highly educated–having more diplomas than all these elected rescale of panel. True. I am ethical, moral, kind hearted, and have National Feeling–that one is on top.

    September 24, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  23. blueboycott

    So much for "The Buck Stops Here." The emperor is wearing no clothes.

    September 24, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  24. Richard

    and I'm sure the Democratic congress will open up their arms and pass everything tghis guy wants. He and the Ameriacn people must be dreaming if they think the Democrats arenot going to remember the last four years. If robme is elected the shoe will be on the other foot when it comes to filibuster!

    September 24, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  25. myron4160

    So mitt going to flipflop to the tearepulicans if he get the whitehouse what a snake oil saleman in god we trust

    September 24, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
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