Obama on the 'mistake of my first term'
July 12th, 2012
05:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama on the 'mistake of my first term'

(CNN) - President Barack Obama acknowledged in a Thursday interview that he put policy ahead of messaging in his first years as president, and could be more effective at "explaining but also inspiring" if reelected to a second term.

"It's funny – when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job?" Obama said in the CBS News interview. "In my first two years, I think the notion was, 'Well, he's been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where's the story that tells us where he's going?' And I think that was a legitimate criticism."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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

In his Thursday interview, Obama acknowledged that he could do a better job on the "inspiration" front.

"The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right," Obama said. "And that's important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."

A second Obama term, he said, would involve "getting out of this town, spending more time with the American people, listening to them and also then being in a conversation with them about where do we go together as a country."

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney issued a statement in response, saying, "President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story. Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. No wonder Americans are losing faith in his presidency."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. zisee

    God this guy can lie with a straight face, and he believes everything he says. We aren't that dumb.

    July 13, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  2. FLIndependent

    Here's a thought Americans – President Obama's campaign slogan in '08 was "Yes WE Can", not "Yes I Can". You see, we are the ones letting him down, especially when we elected the TP's to Congress in '10. What were we thinking? Why are we so impatient and expect this one man to solve all our country's ills, especially within 2 years (before the mid-terms)? WE are letting him down and need to turn things around so he can GET his policies through by giving him a Congress that will work with him. This Congress has been nothing less than treasonous and he really is ONE man fighting the establishment – isn't that what we voted for?

    July 13, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. Vic vega

    I really can't wait till November so this ride will end.

    July 13, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. DIANA

    I agree with Wake Up People. His biggest mistake was thinking the Republican's would work with him instead of against him. I hope the country does realize their mistake and vote these idiots out so our President could turn this country around.
    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    July 13, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Vicky

    I can honestly say, the toxic air vanished the day President Obama was inaugurated. I feel safe and secure under his leadership and can breathe. I believe our President has done everything he possibly could to improve the lives of all Americans despite the obstructionists. Just imagine what could be accomplished if both sides put the American people first.
    Obama 2012!

    July 13, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. Larry Trickel

    All we have seen for the past 4 years is Obama on TV trying to blame others for his failed policies and promises. The last thing we need is more "half-truths" or out right misstatement of facts. For example: Healthcare cost will go down under Obamacare.....fact it is increasing at the fastest pace in history. For those who don't understand economics.... when you offer more benefits, someone has to pay for them. Thus, since most of the benefits are for people who don't pay their fair share, the rest of us pay the bills for the "free stuff".

    July 13, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |

    Given the choices, I have confidence in President Obama and Vice-President Biden in the 2012 elections. Mr. Romney?–not so much. I don't begrudge him his wealth, but, "slim shady" should be his nick name.

    July 13, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Wake up people

    Unfortunately our President is being held to a higher standard than any other President in history. His every move, look, or word is scrutinized. He's damned if he do, damned if he don't. In those peoples eyes NOTHING he could ever do would be right. It's truly pathetic and to think IT'S 2012!

    Yet those same people want a lying, flip flopping vulture capitalist cult leader as our President. And they claim they are Christians. Go figure.

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 13, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. anhcam

    I thought Mr President had done good job, brought back our soldiers from the middle east war and killed Ben laden , backed up ours cars manufacturing and more . I voted for him first term and already done for his second one.

    July 13, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  10. 4JULY1776

    Yes, the president has done a superb job.
    Let's review his accomplishments.....
    Over $5 trillion in new debt.....a record unmatched by any president in U.S. history.
    The 4-year average unemployment rate since the Great Depression.
    Unemployment among black youths at a 27 yeard high.
    He's done a fabulous job!
    It's just that we are all too dumb to understand and appreciate him because he hasn't told us a fairy tale bedtime story yet.

    July 13, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. 4JULY1776

    Sorry for the typo....meant to say....."highest average unemployment rate for 4 years since the Great Depression"

    July 13, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. Romney Outsource King

    Romney will lose in landslide..Romney show them tax paper..Romney outsource jobs to china and india and kept getting paid until 2002 do I want a president that outsource american jobs that would NO.

    Keep up the good job president Obama.

    July 13, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. aldebaranredstar

    His mistake was running for president when he was a first-term senator. His mistake was his arrogance in thinking he was qualified. He is no better than R. Reagan–how is 'morning in America' diferent from 'change you can believe in'? America is officially more corrupt during his presidency–he is just a male model–shades of Zoolander. An empty suit.

    July 13, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. meyuns

    Great leaders at times will have to admit their mistakes and seek advise from the peoples. In President G.W. Bush era who also made mistakes and mislead the country to Iraq war and hid the amount of money spent fighting the war and not forth coming with the amount of lives that were lost and injured, the country did not hear any complaints from these Republicans who are critisizing now. Stop your misleading hatefull and disive comments. The very people we are fighting against use the same format to fight against the Americans around the world.

    July 13, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. Another White Lie

    Obamas biggest mistake, hiring too many people that lie as much as he does.

    July 13, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. Libertarian

    There currently is NO leadership in the WH. Reagan was the last good communicator. Like him or not, he made Americans feel good about America. We so badly need this now.

    July 13, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. Eric

    Media: This is just in. Obama finally admitted that he is a workaholic and puts interests of country ahead of his personal life. There you have it folks. Just what we always suspected – no one is perfect. and we just confirmed that Obama does have a weakness.
    American Public (sans welfare leaches and DNC lemmings): Please give me a bucket, quick! I wonna puke.

    July 13, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. milan milenkovic

    It will be much easier for Pr. Obama during his second term… Obama is hard-working President who is doing his best to move this country forward in right direction … How effective he is, we sow that during past 3,5 years; To me, President the biggest mistake during his first term was that he compromised too easy and too much to Republicans during past 3,5 years??? BBC pool showed that he was more popular in 2009 ( in USA and worldwide) than he is now!!!

    July 13, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Padraig

    I really don't need President Obama explaining what he is doing. I understand what he is doing and can see his goals. Anyone who is objective can see this. I also don't or want his inspiration. I understand his ideaology and the direction he would or wants to take this country in. I have seen this people not only in this country but in others. I know what they are.

    July 13, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. mikle

    He did not have experience and now He call Romney a felon. President come to so low point. Shame,shame,shame.

    July 13, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. anagram_kid

    FLIndependent, you are absolutely correct. There is a segment of the population that will despise and criticize President Obama no matter what he does. They know this and see nothing wrong with their logic (or lack thereof). They simply hate him. For some it is racial, for some it is political (us vs. them) and for some it is that they just don’t like intelligent successful people if they don’t feel that person has a right to be smarter, more successful or happier than they are. I guarantee you that they have the same issue with multiple people in their lives and never realize that they have a problem.

    July 13, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. TomVIO


    Was Mitt Romney born yesterday??? The millions of people that he's talking about that lost jobs, homes and livelihood, lost it all during BUSH!!! So far, during Obama's presidency, all my friends have found new/better jobs and some of them bought new cars and a couple even bought a house.

    From my experience, Millions of people (including myself) are way better off now then before Obama.

    July 13, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8