Obama: "Fair" to Say I Haven't Fostered Cooperation in Washington

President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010.
AP
At his press conference today, President Obama was asked how he had changed Washington.

He responded first by pointing to Democratic policies that he said were geared to help ordinary Americans, not the powerful and special interests, among them health insurance for those with preexisting conditions, regulating credit card companies, and improving the environment.

But he then added this: "Now, if you're asking why haven't I been able to create a greater spirit of cooperation in Washington, I think that's fair. I'm as frustrated as anybody by it."

"I think part of it has to do with the fact that when we came into office, we came in under very tough economic circumstances," he continued. "And I think that some of the Republican leaders made a decision, you know, 'We're going to sit on the sidelines and let the Democrats try to solve it.' And so we got a lot of resistance very early."

He went on to say that because he took on "tough issues" like health care and financial reform, where there is a lot of money at stake, "you end up having a lot of big fights here in town, and it's messy, and it's frustrating."

Mr. Obama said he decided to take on those issues anyway, however - presumably at the cost of greater cooperation - because that's what Americans want in a leader.

"Are there, you know, things that I might have done during the course of 18 months that would, you know, at the margins have improved some of the tone in Washington? Probably," he allowed.

He then added, however, that the lack of cooperation is "a lot more" attributable to the difference in approach between Democrats and Republicans.

More from the press conference:

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Obama on Afghan Corruption and the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden
For Obama, Stimulus is a Four-Letter Word
Elizabeth Warren Gets (Vague) Support From Obama
With Key GOP Vote Secured, Obama Urges Senate to Pass Small Biz Bill
Austan Goolsbee Tapped As Top Economic Adviser
Obama: Americans Shouldn't Turn on Each Other
Obama on Quran Burning: You "Don't Play Games" with Troop Safety
Obama: It's Not Us Vs. Them -- "It's Just Us"
Obama: We've "Fallen Short" on Closing Gitmo


Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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