Campaign 2012: Obama vs. Romney

In separate interviews, President Barack Obama and his challenger, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, discuss the election year's hot-button issues

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Kroft: You came in running as an outsider, somebody who was going to change Washington. Do you still believe after three years in this gridlock that we've had that - that somebody who claims to be an outsider can get things accomplished in Washington?

Obama: Oh, yeah, look, I mean, we passed historic legislation that strengthened our financial regulations. We passed historic legislation that will not only provide 30 million more people coverage, but also insures that you know, kids can stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they are 26 and seniors have lower prescription drugs. And so change has happened and positive change for the American people. I'm the first one to confess that the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren't constantly in a political slugfest, but were focused more on problem solving that, you know, I haven't fully accomplished that. Haven't even come close in some cases. And you know, if you ask me what's my biggest disappointment is that we haven't changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked.

Kroft: And you don't bear any responsibility for that?

Obama: Oh, I think that-- you know-- as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree and one of the things I've realized over the last two years is that that only happens if I'm enlisting the American people much more aggressively than I did the first two years.

Kroft: The great recession began with the housing crisis. We still have the housing crisis. The banks got bailed out. The homeowners didn't. That was one of the decisions that you made. Very few homeowners have gotten mortgage relief. And your efforts to get the banks and the mortgage companies to renegotiate loans and modify terms have been underwhelming, to say the least. What happened?

Obama: We have helped several million homeowners avoid foreclosure and make sure that the terms of their mortgage were ones that they could pay. Not everything you do right off the bat -- when you've got emergencies here, there, and everywhere, and we're all putting out fires -- not everything's going to work perfectly the first time. So, for example, the housing mortgage assistance program that we put into place, we modified when we saw that there wasn't as much take-up as we wanted. And since that time, we've actually seen that the rates of people utilizing it go up dramatically. We still have a long way to go. But this is in contrast to Gov. Romney's proposal. When asked about what we should do with the housing market, he said, "Just let it bottom out." That's a quote. So he was opposed to even the modest proposals that we put into place.

While most of our White House interview involved domestic policies, the president's day was dominated by foreign affairs. The attack on the Libyan consulate that left the U.S. ambassador and three others dead had occurred the night before and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had inserted himself into the presidential campaign, criticizing the president and pushing him to lay out conditions for a military attack against Iran.

Kroft: How much pressure have you been getting from Prime Minister Netanyahu to make up your mind to use military force in Iran?

Obama: Well, look, I have conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu all the time. And I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu's insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race.

Kroft: You don't feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don't feel any pressure?

Obama: When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply. They're one of our closest allies in the region. And we've got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel's existence.