In a TV interview Obama says the presidency is not just about setting the right policy, but explaining it to the American people. What critics and supporters say about his record.
President Obama stirred up a fresh round of political crossfire this week, when he responded to an interviewer's question by saying his biggest mistake has been in the arena of messaging, not policy.
"The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that's important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times," Mr. Obama told Charlie Rose of CBS. The president said he wants to do better at "explaining, but also inspiring."
That prompted a quick response from his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.
“Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead," Mr. Romney said, with his campaign citing millions of Americans who have lost homes or jobs in the weak economy.
Whether Romney is right or wrong, the exchange puts new focus on Obama's track record at a time when media coverage of the campaign had shifted in other directions, notably to questions about Romney and his years in private equity at the firm Bain Capital.
Central to Romney's pitch is the idea that he, as a former business leader, understands how the economy works. And that Obama does not.
Romney's statement Thursday was accompanied by less-than-inspiring statistics on unemployment, the national debt, consumer confidence, and health-care costs under Obama.