Flashback: Obama’s ’08 Caucus Eve Appeal: ‘I Won’t Be a Perfect President’

Jan 2, 2012 5:54pm

Exactly four years ago today, a young Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois made a final televised appeal to Iowans ahead of the caucuses, capping a bruising 10-month campaign to the first votes of 2008 with a pledge to take the country in a “fundamentally new direction.”

“The question you have to ask yourself when you walk into that caucus tomorrow is this: Who can take us in a fundamentally new direction?   I’m running to solve problems we talk about year after year after year, to end the division, the obscene influence of lobbyists, and the politics that values scoring points over making progress,” Obama said. “We can’t afford more of that.”

Watch the video HERE.

Now, three years into his presidency, Obama has admitted those politics and that partisan divide were too formidable to overcome, and he is asking voters for more time.

“I do take some responsibility for making sure that that spirit, which I think the country longs for, that we can somehow get that in the Congress, as well,” Obama told ABC News last month. “But that seems to be a longer-than-one-term project.”

Sixty-seven percent of Americans in the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll said they think the country has gotten seriously off on the wrong track, while 31 percent said it’s going in the right direction.

But in a silver lining for Obama — and perhaps a sign his campaign to paint Republicans as obstructionists may be working — more Americans say they still would trust the president to handle nation’s problems over the next few years over Congressional Republicans by a five-point margin, 43 percent to 38 percent.

“I’m reminded every day that I’m not a perfect man, and I won’t be a perfect president,” Obama said four years ago. “But I can promise you this: I will always tell you where I stand and what I think.”

Those direct and humble words helped Obama win Iowa and, eventually, the general election. They will likely soon be deployed again to help win him another.

UPDATE: Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt noted in an email that the video also highlights four “concrete policy promises” from 2008 that the president has largely fulfilled, including ending the war in Iraq and pursuing initiatives to make college more affordable, reduce dependence on foreign oil and overhaul the health care system.

MORE: Obama’s Unrivaled 2012 Iowa Grassroots Organization

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