March 1st, 2013
12:03 PM ET
9 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. Guest

    And the blame he responsible for anything?

    March 1, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. GOP = Greed Over People

    It was an incredibly stupid question, approaching but not rising to the stupidity of Ed Henry's "questions".

    March 1, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Terry

    This is PRICELESS! Some on the far right have been calling the president a dictator later (the reasoning is beyond incomprehsible to me), so this quote is perfectly timed and delivered. And, he's right. He can't make Congress do it's job....

    March 1, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. much thunder.little rain

    to half the country you are .. the other have you could be king....

    March 1, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Did he actually say that? Uh, boy. That quote just may turn into some seriously misquoted sound bites.

    March 1, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. Tanja C

    Time for Term Limits for members of congress.

    March 1, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. freedom

    "I am not a dictator, I'm the president" Yikes! He equates talking with congress about our devastating economy to being a dictator? It's the other way around ! And when is the last time you heard a United States president use that word in relation to anything in the Oval Office? Bob Woodward did it once – he can do it again...

    March 1, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. chilly g

    mr president im one of your bigest supporter and i know you are doing your best for the country, but when you have the republicans trying to make you fail at everything you do to try and get the economy moving faster is bad but if
    not your folk. the republicans want you to fail at everything you do .there time is coming to an end soon.

    March 1, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Bill-FL

    Castro doesn't think he is/was a dictator.

    Saying it doesn't make it true.

    Nice try Mr. PRES.

    March 1, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. never to vote republican again

    God Bless the POTUS!

    March 1, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    No, you are NOT a dictator Mr. President. However, in situations like these, I sure wish you were. When Congress acts irresponsibly, there should be an executive power in place that can be enacted to avert disaster.

    March 1, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. walken

    if he's presenting a fair deal, it's only his idea that it's fair. he's the one who wanted this sequestration, and now that it's here, he wants to "move the goal posts" as woodward said. he got tax hikes on millions of people a month ago and he's worried about cutting 2% of the budget? that means he will never live within his means. i bet he can't even balance his own checkbook!

    March 1, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Methinks he doth protest too much.

    March 1, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Bill-FL

    Doom and gloom, sky is falling, cry baby

    Grow up Mr.President, you can take your ball and go home o Chicago. You won't b missed.

    March 1, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. maf

    Boehner and McConnell need to catch a plane alright, a plane to this year and this situation! They can no longer have the mandate of making the President a "one-term" president. They should get on board and make this 4 year term one that raises their approval in the Congress and Senate which will present their next Presidential candidate a playing field that shows they were willing to get the tough things done. All this partisan obstruction is the GOP driving the US into financial disaster – AGAIN!!

    March 1, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. kenisgod1

    Obama just activated thousands of sleeper nerds by saying the phrase "Jedi Mind Meld"......

    March 1, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Pam Burks

    All Obama is trying to do is make the American people think all of this craziness is because the Republicans have made wrong choices. He has yet to blame himself or the democrats for anything. He really believes Americans are so stupid they will believe him. He is doing nothing more right now to better our country he is simply trying to set up for the next election so he has COMPLETE control which is all he is about. We are not third world ignorant people.

    March 1, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Winning

    There is a secret sauce Mr. President. You have to just do whatever they want. You have to do all the compromising, they have to do none. They get everything they want, and you get nothing. It sure is rich to hear right wing nutjobs calling Obama a dictator. They act more dictatorial than any other group in our country's history.

    March 1, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Apparently Republican leaders think the US people ARE just that stupid to not realize these things....."

    Apparently so does CNN. Anyway, I'm outta here. Done with the GOP taking points. Can't argue with the stupid and quite frankly the media is going down the drain with the Grand Old Party as well.

    Please proceed ...

    Catch you all later.

    March 1, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  20. rla

    Reasonable??? since when?

    March 1, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. rla

    Obama gets frustrated when his commands are not followed because he still thinks the last election gave him dictatorial power!

    March 1, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. MATT

    Obama wont force Congress to do the right thing, but he sure as hell can force every American to buy healthcare or face a stiff fine. Yeah Obama is not a dictator, and bears dont poop in the woods.

    March 1, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Name Carl

    The Republicans need to work with.the President. The GOP are just horrible. They are going to ruin our country.....

    March 1, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. Steve Crowley

    That's debateable !!!

    March 1, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Hotamale24

    Does teflon man not own a mirror... maybe his thinking and policies are wrong...
    AMERICA WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!

    March 1, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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