WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama has said he regrets not fostering “a sense of unity and purpose and optimism” early in his term, according to excerpts of a television interview released Thursday.
“The mistake of my first term — couple of years — was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right,” Obama told US broadcaster CBS in the interview, which will be aired in full on Sunday and Monday.
“And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times,” added the Democratic incumbent, who took office at the height of the economic crisis in 2009.
“When I ran, everybody said, well, he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job,” he said.
“And in my first two years, I think the notion was, ‘Well, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?’ And I think that was a legitimate criticism.”
Obama hopes to remedy the situation by “getting out of (Washington), spending more time with the American people, listening to them, and also being in a conversation with them about where do we go together as a country.”
“I need to do a better job at that in my second term,” he said.
His Republican rival Mitt Romney, who hopes to seize the White House in November, was quick to pounce on the comments, saying Obama’s problem was not how he connected with the American people, but what he had to say.
“President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story,” Romney said in a statement.
“Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. No wonder Americans are losing faith in his presidency.”