WASHINGTON -- One day before his first State of the Union address, President Obama bluntly said his performance in office is more important to him than winning a second term.
"I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president," he said Monday in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer.
The remark came after an awkward moment when Sawyer asked the president if the job was ever so difficult that he would consider not running for a second term.
"You know, there is a tendency in Washington to believe our job description, of elected officials, is to get reelected," he continued. "That's not our job description. Our job description is to solve problems and to help people."
Obama also addressed the issue of transparency in Washington in response to Sawyer's question about special deals cut with senators to secure votes on the health reform package.
"Let's just clarify," Obama said. "I didn't make a bunch of deals. There is a legislative process that is taking place in Congress and I am happy to own up to the fact that I have not changed Congress and how it operates the way I would have liked."
He added that passing major reforms is "an ugly process and it looks like there are a bunch of back room deals," admitted he had made a "mistake."
"I think your question points out to a legitimate mistake that I made during the course of the year, and that is that we had to make so many decisions quickly in a very difficult set of circumstances that after awhile, we started worrying more about getting the policy right than getting the process right," the president said.
Obama's interview is also drawing attention because he gave Sawyer a kiss at the opening of their exchange. Video is available here.
This video is from ABC's World News, broadcast Jan. 25, 2010.