President Obama Contemplates the Future of the Democratic Party

PHOTO: President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Dec. 16, 2016.PlayPablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
WATCH Obama Says Country Is in Place That He's 'Proud to Leave His Successor'

Democrats are searching for answers after their devastating loss at the polls, President Obama admitted in a wide-ranging interview with National Public Radio.

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When asked about the future of the Democratic Party, he said, "I am a proud Democrat, but I do think that ... we've ceded too much territory. And I take some responsibility for that."

When he took office, the Democrats "were just putting out fires" and "were in a huge crisis situation," Obama said in the portion of the interview that aired today.

"A lot of the organizing work that we did during the campaign, we started to see right away wasn't immediately transferable to congressional candidates," he said. "More work would have needed to be done to just build up that structure and one of the big suggestions that I have for Democrats as I leave, and something that I have some ideas about, is how do we do more of that ground-up building?"

But in the short-term, Obama said his concerns are not being met.

A bitter battle is brewing at the Democratic National Committee over the chairmanship. The initial front-runner for the DNC chair is Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who played a major role in Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign. But the surprise entrance of Labor Secretary Tom Perez promises more tension in the party and distractions, instead of focusing on recruiting strong candidates for future state races.