Exclusive: President Obama Says Voter Anger, Frustration Key to Republican Victory in Massachusetts Senate

"We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don't, then our budgets are going to blow up," he said. "And we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance for their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of this bill."

Brown campaigned against the legislation that the Senate passed with a straight partisan vote on Christmas Eve. Even some prominent Democratic leaders have said that his victory signals the death of the health care bill.

Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Reid insisted today that the Democrats plan for a health care overhaul will move forward.

"We will move forward with those considerations in mind, but we will move forward," Pelosi, D-Calif., told the U.S. Conference of Mayors today. She did not specify what Plan B is.

Reid would only vaguely say, "There are a lot of different options out there."

Read excerpts of the exclusive interview here.

Republicans believe a win in the bluest of blue states, where a Republican had not been elected to the U.S. Senate since 1972, amounts to a popular rebuke of the president's agenda.

"There's been a pattern here that began last spring and the administration has refused to acknowledge what the people out across the country have been saying," GOP chairman Michael Steele said on "Good Morning America" today.

President Obama: We Lost Touch with the American People Last Year

Obama said Steele's criticism is not a "plausible point," but acknowledged that steps were taken last year that, while "necessary," were unpopular with the American people.

The president said he understands voters' anger over the Wall Street bailouts, but he insisted that it was the right thing to do.

"I make no apologies for that, at all. But we knew at the time how politically toxic that was," he said. "What it gave people a sense of is, 'We're spending all this money, but I'm not getting any help.'"

The president was reflective (LINK TO GS BLOG) about his first 12 months and said there is a constant balance in moving forward on what he called "big agendas" and trying to bring change to Washington.

"Am I satisfied with the progress that we've made on changing how Washington works? Absolutely not," he said.

He defended his administration's approach, noting that most of the big issues he took on last year "were not ones that I chose."

"I didn't campaign on saving the financial system," he said.

While Obama did not admit to having any second thoughts about the legislative strategy and policies his administration pursued last year, he acknowledged that there was too much focus on the process, particularly when it came to health care.

"I think that if we had gotten health care done faster, people would have understood the degree to which every single day…health care is part of a broader context of, 'How am I going to be able to move the middle class forward in a more secure and stable way?'" he said. "I think that what's happened is, is over the course of this year, there's been a fixation, an obsession in terms of the focus on the health care process in Congress that distracted from all the other things that we're trying to do to make sure that this economy is working for ordinary people."

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