Exclusive - Obama to ABC News: 'I Second-Guess Constantly'

Pete Souza / The White House

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama today acknowledged that he has made mistakes during his presidency but defended the steps his administration has taken to create jobs and improve the economy.

"I second-guess constantly… I make a mistake, you know, every hour, every day," he told ABC News' Diane Sawyer, laughing. "There're always things that you're learning in the job. And I have no doubt that I'm a better president now than the day I took office just because you get more experience. But when you look at the broad outlines of what we did, had it not been for the steps we took our economy would be profoundly weaker than we are right now."

The president was responding to a question by a Yahoo user asking him if there's something he learned about himself and wished he had done in the first three years.

Obama, who is in Las Vegas today promoting his energy agenda, didn't give specific examples. Instead, he cited the auto bailout and the Recovery Act as examples of his administration's successes. Addressing criticism that the economy hasn't grown very quickly in the last three years, Obama said he laid out the foundations that will position the country to continue growing.

"The auto industry, which has now created 160,000 jobs, and sees GM as the number one automaker in the world again, that didn't just happen by accident," he said. "We had a little something to do with it, to help that industry restructure and save about a million jobs, that would've had ripple effects all across the country. The Recovery Act - what, you know, Republicans referred to as the stimulus package, well, most economists - almost every economist - will tell you that had we not put that in place we could've tipped into a great depression.

"So I think when the body politic goes through a trauma as great as the one that we went through in 2008, 2009, then everybody I think is gonna be frustrated that we don't recover."