Obama On The Political Price of The Election

Talks to "60 Minutes" About Politics, The Economy, Taxes, Mistakes And What's Ahead

President Obama is currently on a trade mission in India following a long flight, and an even longer week which saw him lose his Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and nearly lose it in the Senate.

Although his name wasn't on the ballot, his performance in office was certainly a factor in the outcome.

Late on Thursday afternoon, two years to the date after his election as the 44th president, "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft sat down with him in the Oval Office - and the mood was different.

We talked about Tuesday's vote, the economy and where he goes from here.



60 Minutes Overtime: The Full Interview
Two days after his party's defeat in the midterm elections, President Obama granted only one interview: with "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft. Here is their entire conversation from start to finish.


Obama Interview Transcript, Part 1
Obama Interview Transcript, Part 2
Extra: Obama, Rep. Boehner and Tax Cuts
Extra: Obama and Election Rhetoric
Extra: Obama on Leadership

Steve Kroft: The Republicans have said that this was a referendum on you and the Democratic Party. Do you agree with that?

President Obama: I think first and foremost, it was a referendum on the economy. And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming and where a lot of folks are still hurting.

Kroft: At your news conference, you seemed unwilling to accept the idea that this was a rejection in any way of your agenda. And your policies. Is this a defeat, a reflection on your leadership?

Obama: I think that what happened over the course of two years was that we had to take a series of big, emergency steps quickly. And most of them in the first six months of my administration. Each of them had a big price tag. And people looked at that and they said, "Boy, this feels as if there's a huge expansion of government."

Kroft: Well, it was a huge expansion of government.

Obama: What I didn't effectively, I think, drive home, is that we were taking these steps not because of some theory that we wanted to expand government. It was because we had an emergency situation and we wanted to make sure the economy didn't go off a cliff. I think the Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that's not something that the American people want.

Kroft: The Republicans say the voters sent you a very clear message. That they want a smaller, less costly, more accountable government. Is that the message that you received?

Obama: I think that the first and foremost, they want jobs and economic growth in this country.

Kroft: Are you saying, then, that this small-- the idea of smaller, less costly, more accountable government was not what you think the voters were saying?

Obama: No, no, no. There is no doubt that folks are concerned about debt and deficits. I think that is absolutely a priority. And by the way that's a concern that I had before I was even sworn in.

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