President Obama said today that the biggest mistake of his first term was not being a good enough storyteller, explaining that he needed to better communicate to the American people why the policies he was pursuing mattered.
“The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right,” Obama told CBS News’ Charlie Rose. “And that’s important, but, you know, 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.”
“When I ran, everybody said, ‘Well, he can give a good speech, but can he actually manage the job?’” he went on to explain. “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.”
Going forward, the president said he plans to spend more time outside of Washington with the American people, “listening to them and also then being in a conversation with them about where we go as a country. I need to do a better job of that in my second term.”
The president has already been ramping up his travel ahead of November’s election. He spends tomorrow and Saturday campaigning in the critical swing state of Virginia.
In his second term the president said he needs to be better job of not just “explaining, but also inspiring.”
Chiming in, the first lady added, “because hope is still there.”
Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney pounced on Obama’s comments, saying, “Being president is not about telling stories.”
“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 written statement. “Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. No wonder Americans are losing faith in his presidency.”
The full CBS interview with the president and first lady is set to air this weekend on “CBS Sunday Morning” and Monday on “CBS This Morning.”