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. plain&simple

    Absolutely correct Mr. President!!! The leaders of the opposing party have chosen to put their agendas ahead of what the people have expressed in the latest election. The arrogance has been astounding and insulting to all of reason!!! The truth is very simple and we all see it.

    March 1, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    That's not what the haters think Mr. President. Good luck dealing with the bigoted, rotten GOP. They are hoping to see you fail.

    March 1, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Marsh hen

    "I am not a dictator.." says Mr. Obama, but, I want to be, he thought.

    March 1, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. acdcguy

    This man is nothing but evil and a very dangerous man at that..........

    March 1, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Guest wrote:

    And the blame he responsible for anything?
    President of the United States, Barack Obama, it could be argued, is responsible for a lot of the right wing anger and hatred.

    What he is not responsible for is teh continued escalation of said anger and hatred.

    March 1, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Guest

    The truth that the president is incompetent, indeed!

    March 1, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Woman In California

    I was extremely impressed with the press conference this a.m. Mr. President and you were correct about everything you stated. It is not up to you alone to do all of the negotiating. They were elected just as you were and should start performing their job with the good of the American people in mind. This Congress, not you, will forever be known as the "Food Stamp Congress" from this point on. The American people know whose to blame for this selfish and unreasonable hate filled stand-off and will take them to task 2014 by throwing them all out.
    Good riddance!

    March 1, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Ferret out the BS

    This blog reflects what is going on in Washington, the representatives have just as much animosity toward each other's ideology as the writers here, so, no wonder nothing gets done.

    March 1, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Stillnotcuttingenough

    On a lighter note, it looks like Obama just lost the Trekkie vote:

    "...a Jedi mind-meld..." Jedi was from Star Wars, Vulcans from Star Trek do mind-melds.

    March 1, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Brad

    No Leadership in this administration, March 1 is here, and due to MASSIVE spending over the past 4 years, cuts need to happen.

    Dems running amuck

    March 1, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Nameeldon

    He acts like a dictator. It's his way or no way.

    March 1, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. Sasha

    Gah! It's Jedi mind-trick, not mind-meld!

    I've never been more ashamed of Obama ...


    March 1, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. jeff

    You have got to be kidding me, the president is "Reasonable", he should have started this conversation over a year ago, no he wanted to get past the election. Harry Reid didn't even put a bill up for vote until yesterday, but its all the republicans fault.

    March 1, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Methinks he doth protest too much."

    That's cute, especially after watching the GOP/Teatrolls throw a hissy for several weeks desperately trying to use every messaging trick they could think of to ultimately fail at convincing the majoriy of the public to blame Obama and not them. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to return to my regularly scheduled schadenfreude-laden gloating that the polls shwo the GOP/Teatrolls just dug their hole deeper.

    March 1, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. Pander Bear

    Let's see how many right wing nut jobs post "yes he is!" responses to this. The over under is 60.

    March 1, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    The most horrible congress in generations in USA history–no solutions till removal of congress–pass term limits.

    March 1, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. Two Row

    A fair deal. Please. Obama doesn't negotiate. He wants the free lunch for the unions and rest of the money grubbers and its his way or no way.

    March 1, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Essie

    There goes some wisdom for you! ...He finally addressed some of the critics foolish talking points! ~They have been saying, "he thinks he's a king", "he acts like a Kenyan dictator", etc. Only uneducated, mindless people talk like this! ~You're absolutely right,'re our president! And a good one at that!! 🙂

    March 1, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. MaryM

    The majority of the American people know the GOP is responsible for the sequester. just look at the polls, even the most conservative ones

    March 1, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Lynda
    Please proceed ...

    Catch you all later
    My sentiments exactly.
    Today is a Rethuglikkklan national holiday. They are partying and rejoicing in what they mistakenly perceive to be a victory for them at the expense of the country.
    Let us let them enjoy'll be shortlived.

    March 1, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Fair is Fair

    May life treat you well, Lynda... we rarely agreed, but the debate was... well, interesting.

    March 1, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Justin

    No sir, our only agenda is to be fiscally responsible, not spend the country away. What I do oppose is Obama and the other liberals in congress attempting to destroy America from within. We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Lets get our fiscal house in order before its too late where we begin to resemble a third world banana republic. It seems that you liberals (socialists) will never understand this.

    March 1, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. bassman

    Pres.Obama is partly right. He is not a dictator.. he only acts like one.

    March 1, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  24. rs


    "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
    Reading skills are essential. He was asked about keeping Congress in session to deal with the problem, to which he replied "I am not a dictator"- he was certainly allowing Boehner to send hist troops home yesterday. The fact that the Republicans continue to work against the wishes of the majority of Americans , and holding the economy "hostage" to their crazed TEA Party is in fact the problem.
    As for Mr. Woodward, he is a press hack, the shadow of the man who helped break Watergate and brought down a President. You may choose to believe his tripe, but people who know better will not.

    March 1, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |

    And the blame he responsible for anything?

    March 1, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
    Is Boehner? Is McConnell? In case you've forgotten Congress is the Legislative branch of our government. Obama is in the Executive. Got it?

    March 1, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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