Obama On Daschle Et Al — It’s Embarassing

By Thomas Nagorski

Feb 3, 2009 6:17pm

Early excerpt from our interview with President Obama: CHARLES GIBSON: Mr. President, has this been an embarrassing day for the administration?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think it has. I mean, I think that any time one of your nominees pulls out, that’s an issue. And, you know, as I’ve said publicly, you know, ultimately, I take responsibility for the situation that we’re in. But what I also think is important is to stay focused on the overarching theme of this administration, which is making sure that we get this economy back on track, that we provide health care for people who are in desperate need of it. You know, I think Tom Daschle would have been the best person to help shepherd through a health care bill through a very difficult process in Congress. And so, you know, I regret the fact that he’s not going to be serving, but we’re going to move forward.

CHARLES GIBSON: But there’s more of a problem than just Daschle, and you’re the one, in your inaugural speech, who talked about an era of responsibility. PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.

CHARLES GIBSON: You’ve now got three major appointees who, it turns out, haven’t paid all their taxes. What kind of a message does that send about responsibility?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think it sends the wrong one. And that’s, you know, something I take responsibility for. I think that all of these were honest mistakes, but ultimately there’s no excuse for them. And, you know, I think that Tom, as well as myself, understood that. I think he made the assessment that it was going to be too much of a distraction. And the most important thing, from my perspective, is making sure that the American people understand we don’t have two sets of rules here, that everybody has responsibilities. In this situation, I take responsibility for it. Click here to watch the video.

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