He cited the results of the elections – which placed Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and gave them stronger control in the Senate – as being based heavily on voter frustration with the nation’s slow economic progress, according to the New York Times.
“There is no doubt that people’s number one concern is the economy. What they were expressing great frustration about is that we haven’t made enough progress on the economy,” the president said at a news conference.
The president said he promised to work harder at building bipartisan consensus between the two parties, and that he takes “direct responsibility” for the failure of the country to make as much economic progress as was needed, according to the Times.
Obama vowed repeatedly to work closely with Republican newcomers in Washington, although he acknowledged that Republicans and Democrats would inevitably be unwilling to compromise on certain principles.
When asked about his original policy agenda, the president said that it had not been a plan to fundamentally transform government, but rather an emergency response to a time of crisis.
He said, however, that many mistook his temporary emergency approaches for a more extreme desire to change government.
Obama said the “shellacking” he received by voters on Tuesday helped him to realize the importance of stepping outside of the “bubble” of the White House.
“When you’re in this place, it is hard not to seem removed,” he said.