President Obama: 'Nowhere to Go But Up'

President told Barbara Walters he remains confident, despite low approval rating

ByABC News
November 26, 2013, 2:02 PM

Nov. 29, 2013— -- Despite facing a disastrous rollout of his health care plan, criticism over his policies and approval ratings that have plunged to an all-time low, President Obama said he remains confident that his signature health care law will be an important part of his legacy and things can only get better.

"I've gone up and down pretty much consistently throughout," Obama told ABC's Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview at the White House. "But the good thing about when you're down is that usually you got nowhere to go but up."

Obama's Affordable Care Act,, which was meant to be a centerpiece of his presidency, has been hit with enormous backlash since its website,, went live in October and has continued to suffer from technical glitches. The race is now on for the tech-surge team to produce a fully functional website.

"I continue to believe and [I'm] absolutely convinced that at the end of the day, people are going to look back at the work we've done to make sure that in this country, you don't go bankrupt when you get sick, that families have that security," the president said of his health care law. "That is going be a legacy I am extraordinarily proud of."

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But in the aftermath of the website's troubled rollout, reports surfaced that senior Obama administration officials expressed ongoing anxiety over the site not working properly months before it went live on Oct. 1, but seemed to have left the president in the dark about their concerns.

"Obviously my most recent concern has been that my website's not working ... and we're evaluating why it is exactly that I didn't know soon enough that [it] wasn't going to work the way it needed to," Obama said. "But my priority now has been to just make sure that it works."

Since the rollout, Obama has been front and center, apologizing for "fumbling the ball" and not executing the rollout better. But Republicans continue to pounce on what has now been called a "broken promise" to deliver affordable health care to the nation. According to a ABC News-Washington Post poll released last week, the president's job approval rating fell to 42 percent, down 13 percentage points this year and 6 points in the past month to match the lowest of his presidency. Obama is also at career lows for being a strong leader, understanding the problems of average Americans and being honest and trustworthy -- just 41 percent rate him as a good manager.

Even still, Obama brushed off the notion that the American people think he is untrustworthy.

"I got re-elected in part because people did think I was trustworthy and they knew I was working on their behalf," he said, noting that every president goes through rough patches. "Very rarely are the good things that happen get the same attention as the things that aren't working so well."

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President Obama's job approval rating roughly matches that of President George W. Bush at the same point in his second term, according to recent polling, but again, Obama pressed that he isn't finished yet.

"Every president in their second term is mindful that you've only got a limited amount of time, and you want to make sure you are squeezing every last ounce of energy that you have to try to deliver on the commitments you made to the American people," he said.

Even faced with a firestorm of criticism, and recent incidents of the president being booed or heckled during speeches, First Lady Michelle Obama joked that even though her approval ratings are higher than the president's, she too had been booed before and told Walters it is just "part of the job."