After rocky 2013, what's ahead for Obama in new year?

In less than three weeks, President Obama begins his sixth year in office. Last year was full of challenges, setbacks and a few small victories. In 2014, the Obama White House will take on many of the same issues, including Obamacare, NSA surveillance and Iran's nuclear program.

CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett, former press secretary to President Bill Clinton Dee Dee Myers and editor of the Weekly Standard William Kristol joined the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts to discuss how 2013 turned out and what the new year will look like for the president.

To start, Garrett told the panel that 2013 "did not work out well" for Obama and it was a "very bad year politically" for him. 

"If you look at his poll numbers right before his second inaugural, he was in the mid-50s on approval, handling the economy, credibility and understanding middle class issues. He’s now in the mid-to-low-40s on all of those," he said. "All of those things have lost 12 to 10 to 15 points depending on the poll."

Garrett explained that not only did Obama’s approval suffer, but his credibility and trustworthiness did as well.

"All the fundamentals that a president relies upon in his second term to maintain his relevance and to project authority are weaker than they were a year ago," he said.  

For many, it originally looked like the president was doing well at the beginning of 2013, especially because of mis-steps Republicans made with the government shutdown, but then the Obamacare rollout changed the public’s minds. Myers said that "it’s still hard to understand how that happened."

"They’ve made a lot of progress towards fixing the website – the front end is working much better, but it’s unclear what’s going on on the back end," said Myers. "It’s obviously incumbent on them to fix that because the president’s legacy, regardless of what happened last year or the coming months, will be gauged on how successful that program is."

She said that now the president needs to "make a pivot" and try to show that he cares about he middle class, which has always been his strong suit.

"He needs to figure out how he can make progress, without necessarily going through Congress, on things that people actually care about and will feel in their lives," she said.

When asked, Meyers said that while it’s been a tough year, she does not necessarily think that the Obama administration would be facing the same problems if there had not been such major issues with the Affordable Care Act roll out.

Historically, the parties that control the White House tend to suffer in mid-term elections when approval ratings for the president are below 50 percent.  Kristol said that if Obama wants to recover from his current situation, he has a long way to go.

“If Obamacare turns out to work … not just the website - if the actual premiums and the coverage – people decide they like it, and if Iran is stopped from getting nuclear weapons or delayed, then I think President Obama a year from now will say ‘Yeah, I went through a lot of tough stuff, but look at these fundamental issues I’ve staked my presidency on – I’m going to be vindicated,’” said Kristol. “If it’s the opposite, though, he’s in deep trouble and all the White House spin and staff shuffles won’t make a difference.”

To watch the full roundtable with Major Garrett, Dee Dee Myers and William Kristol, watch the video in the player above

  • Shoshana Davis

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