US President Barack Obama acknowledged that he had failed to persuade Americans of his administration’s successes in the wake of an election hammering that saw his party, the Democrats, 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 today.
He added: “We haven’t always been successful at that. I take personal responsibility for that, and it’s something that I’ve got to examine carefully as I go forward.”
Obama had earlier conceded that he suffered a “shellacking” in Tuesday’s key midterm 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 recognised 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.