"I think I messed up, I screwed up," President Obama told CBS News' Katie Couric. "In not recognizing the perception that even though this is a honest mistake," he explained. (Read the transcript of the interview here.)
The president was referring to revelations hours earlier that his pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle, had withdrawn his nomination amid criticism of his initial failure to pay $140,000 in taxes.
During interviews with CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX and CNN, President Obama was asked about the cabinet staffing hiccup. The typically confident president repeatedly said that the appointment scandal was his responsibility and apologized over (and over) again.
"I believe, on Tom's part, that, you know, ordinary people are out there paying taxes everyday and whether it's an intentional mistake or not, it was sending the wrong signal," he told Couric, "so again, this was something that was my fault."
"I've got to own up to my mistake which is that ultimately it's important for this administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules. You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes," Mr. Obama told NBC.
"I'm frustrated with myself, with our team'' he added, "and I'm here on television saying I screwed up and that's part of the era of responsibility, is not never making mistakes; it's owning up to them and trying to make sure you never repeat them and that's what we intend to do.''
ABC's Charles Gibson asked President Obama what type of message he thought investigations into three of his appointee's taxes sent. Responded the president: "Well, I think it sends the wrong one. And that's, you know, something I take responsibility for."
"I think I made a mistake. And I told Tom that. I take responsibility for the appointees," Mr. Obama told CNN. "I think my mistake is not in selecting Tom originally… But I think that, look, ultimately, I campaigned on changing Washington and bottom-up politics. And I don't want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards, one for powerful people, and one for ordinary folks who are working every day and paying their taxes."
And, just to make sure no audience members were missed, the apologetic president told Fox News, "I take responsibility for this mistake." He promised to "make sure we're not screwing up again.''
In total, President Obama said the word "mistake" twelve times during the five interviews. He also used the phrase "I take responsibility" three times and the word "regret" twice.