March 1st, 2013
12:03 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama: 'I am not a dictator, I'm the president'

(CNN) - Asked Friday by CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin why President Obama can't simply refuse to let congressional leaders leave a room until they reach a deficit-reduction agreement, the president said he can't "force Congress to do the right thing."

"Jessica, I am not a dictator, I'm the president," he said while speaking to reporters in the White House Press Briefing Room. "Ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say we need to go to catch a plane, I can't have Secret Service block the doorway."

"I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that's been floating around Washington, and that somehow–even though most people agree that I'm being reasonable, that most people agree I'm presenting a fair deal–the fact that they don't take it means that somehow I should do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right," he added.

Obama went on to say that those leaders are elected and have their own responsibilities. For his part, the president said he the best he can do is "make the best possible case for why we need to do the right thing" and "speak to the American people about the consequences of the decisions that Congress is making or the lack of the decision-making by Congress."

"But ultimately it's a choice they make, and this idea that somehow there's a secret formula or secret sauce to get speaker Boehner or Mitch McConnell to say 'You know what Mr. President, you're right'...I think if there was a secret way to do that, I would have tried it. I would have done it."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. MaryM

    I cant wait until 2014 to vote the GOP out of office. Boehner and graham will be the first to go.

    March 1, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. lottie

    boy you can sure tell the repos on this post. Not only nasty remarks but really stupid comments.

    March 1, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Joe

    Obama is right – these cuts are dumb. Given that federal spending has increased 1.7 TRILLION dollars since 2007 (40% increase), cutting $85 billion is DUMB. We should cut spending back to 2007 levels – cut 1.7 trillion and I'll take your commitment to deficit reduction seriously.

    March 1, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    Wow, the haters are out in force today. Despite what Fox News tells you folks, the POTUS CANNOT be a Dictator, no matter how badly you want to believe it. Our system of Govt prevents that. Perhaps completion of 2nd Grade would help ?

    March 1, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Southerner01

    The first sign of a dictator is that he feels the necessity to deny being a dictator.

    March 1, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Tim Williams

    Could have fooled me. Maybe not yet, but I'm sure he'd love to be. The issue at hand is that the sequester was his idea in the first place. Come on, take some responsibility! He should be a President of the United States in the same form and character as his predecessors. Not some whining, blaming, and "not my fault...ever" type of president. It demeans the office and makes you look like a fool.

    March 1, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Southerner01

    The first sign of a di ctator is that he feels the necessity to deny being a di ctator.

    March 1, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Southerner01

    Are all posts on this thread moderated?

    March 1, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Peach

    Obama = "I'm not a dictator" -– Nixon = "I am not a thief".
    Nixon was a LIAR and Obama IS a DICTATOR.

    March 1, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Tom

    I think Obama has been hanging out with Joe Biden too long. Bad soundbites for good causes isn't a winning strategy.

    March 1, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Peg

    All par of George Soros' plan to change the world to what he thinks will work. Obama is the also the " Sun rising in the West". We are not all blind to what is going on. It's really not even political. Why do you think there are shows like, Doomsday Preppers? Why do you think smart people are preparing? Hello? Obama Zombies will be unprepared. Very sad.

    March 1, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. luckjoe

    If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Obama is a dictator.

    March 1, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Reptillian

    "Jedi mind meld"?...Vulcans mind meld, Jedi have mind tricks. What America needs is a more nerdy president.

    March 1, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. Black Men For An Obama Free America

    What do Flava Flav and Obama have in common........They are both just hype men.

    March 1, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. lee

    Obama is such an idiot, this dude couldnt run a lemonade stand much less a country. So sad so many folks with NO common sense elected this loser AGAIN.

    March 1, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. shawn

    Obama Created the Sequester, and now he's upset because its going to happen. He'd hoped he could use it to bend the Rep's to his will, but alas it didn't work. They still think we are over spending as a nation, and for those of you who think we aren't, why are we in debt 16 trillion plus? In President Obama's own words, It's math stupid.

    March 1, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    For all you folks who think President Obama is a dictator, go live in North Korea for awhile and then get back to us ...

    March 1, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    vulcan mind-meld....Jedi mind trick.

    March 1, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Bill-FL

    Last century we had Nixon / Woodward

    This century we now have Obama / Woodward

    See the similarities?

    FAKE and FRAUD are abounding in the WH.

    Deception, smoke and mirrors, along with that "vudo you do so well!"

    Hey libs and dems, you voted this Guy in. So, shut up and take it like a woman "being PC".

    March 1, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. ATPMSD

    Then start ACTING LIKE A PRESIDENT! Up to now you have been behaving like the leader of the Democratic Party and not the leader of the United States. Name calling...really? Is that the mark of a leader??? Sounds more like a dictator.

    Rise above and start acting like OUR President.

    March 1, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. cacique

    No need to sweeten it, let the shrinking of the government expenditures begin. Let's see what happens, but having to look at all those puckering red faces is just unbearable already. Americans can get through this as we have many times in the past. So, let the ax fall where it may. If that was the deal, so be it...

    March 1, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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