Regrets? Obama has had a few
President Obama faced one of the classic lose-lose scenarios at his town hall-style meeting outside Washington on Friday, when he was asked if he had any regrets about his term in office so far.
Name anything too specific, and risk handing your political opponents a potent sound bite. Avoid answering, and it could come off as out of touch given that poll shows voters have plenty of regrets of their own.
Obama, as is his style of late, tried to plot a middle course.
“I think about this all the time,” he said (see video below). “I mean, I’m constantly re-running in my head, ‘Did we make the right move here, could we have done more there?’ I think, overall, in an extremely difficult situation, we’ve made good choices; we’ve made good decisions.”
The crowd applauded, but Obama continued on, pointing to the dysfunction in Washington he had earlier referred to -- specifically, the need to find 60 votes in the Senate to move most legislation through.
“Because of ... the rules of the filibuster in the Senate, it meant that, on economic policy, I might have done some things more aggressively if I could have convinced more Republicans in the Senate to go along,” he said.
Sounding like a job applicant asked to name his faults, Obama also said he could have “told the American people more clearly” how dire the nation’s economic situation was, and that he was “so focused on ... getting the policy right” he failed to explain why he was taking the steps he took.
“But having said that, the basic thrust of my first two-and-a-half years have been entirely consistent with what I said I was going to do during the campaign,” he said, before rattling off what he felt were his accomplishments.
The campaign of Mitt Romney, eager to focus on the president while his GOP rivals chase after him, felt Obama’s answer was lacking.
“Three years of high unemployment, economic misery and failed policies, and President Obama can’t name a single regret? We’re not going to solve the jobs crisis in this country until we have a president who recognizes we have one,” Romney said in a statement.
Obama’s predecessor struggled with a similar question as he was running for re-election.
In 2004, a reporter asked George W. Bush to name his biggest mistake from his first term. His answer became campaign fodder for the rest of the year.
“I’m sure historians will look back and say, ‘Gosh he could have done it better this way or that way,” Bush said. “I don’t want to sound like I’ve made no mistakes. I’m confident I have. I just haven’t -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.”
Obama has recently admitted another regret, albeit over something he did before winning the presidency. He told ABC News last April he regretted voting against raising the debt ceiling as a U.S. senator in 2006, calling it a “political vote.”
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