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In his first one-on-one interview since his party suffered crushing losses in the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama reiterated his belief that his administration failed to effectively communicate with voters.
When asked by CBS’s Steve Kroft whether the elections were a “reflection on your leadership,” the president instead focused on his belief that he did not sell his policies:
“I think that what happened over the course of two years was that we had to take a series of big, emergency steps quickly and most of them in the first six months of my Administration. Each of them had a big price tag. You’ve got intervention in the banks. You’ve got the auto bailout. You’ve got a stimulus package. Each one with a lot of zeroes behind it. And people looked at that and they said, ‘Boy, this feels as if there’s 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 also signaled that he would make an effort to improve the political discourse in Washington, echoing a post-election press conference last week in which he doubled down on civility. “Part of my promise to the American people when I was elected,” Obama said, “was to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think over the course of two years there are times where I’ve slipped on the commitment.”
In a portion of the interview revealed earlier in the week, Obama analyzed the tough election his party suffered. The full interview airs on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.