US President Barack Obama acknowledged he had failed to persuade Americans of his administration’s successes, following an election hammering which saw his party lose control of the House of Representatives.
“We were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn’t just legislation, that it’s a matter of persuading people,” Obama told CBS show “60 Minutes” in excerpts released Friday.
“We haven’t always been successful at that,” the president added.
“I take personal responsibility for that, and it’s something that I’ve got to examine carefully as I go forward.”
In particular, Obama attributed the electoral drubbing to the public’s perception that the massive stimulus package approved in the first six months of his administration last year was “a huge expansion of government.”
“What I didn’t effectively, I think, drive home, because we were in such a rush to get this stuff done, is that we were taking these steps not because of some theory that we wanted to expand government. It was because we had an emergency situation and we wanted to make sure the economy didn’t go off a cliff,” the president added.
Obama had earlier conceded he suffered a “shellacking” in Tuesday’s key mid-term congressional and state elections, but had refused to see it as a repudiation of his transformative domestic agenda, instead blaming the loss on deep voter frustration at the sluggish economic recovery.
Many critics had warned that Obama had failed to sell his legislative accomplishments to ordinary Americans in the run up to the polls, and that the results were in part a reflection of the president’s inability or unwillingness to articulate the positives of his first two years in office.
He told CBS he now recognized that part of his job as the president of all Americans was “giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone. And making an argument that people can understand.”
Obama’s shortcomings on the salesman front apparently resonated with “some of my Democratic supporters who express some frustration,” the president said.