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Obama Says Policy Focus at Expense of Narrative Hurts Him

President Barack Obama  says he is facing a tough election fight from Republican Mitt Romney  in part because he concentrated more on policy than selling the
story of his first-term accomplishments to voters. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg
President Barack Obama says he is facing a tough election fight from Republican Mitt Romney in part because he concentrated more on policy than selling the story of his first-term accomplishments to voters. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama says he is facing a tough election fight from Republican Mitt Romney in part because he concentrated more on policy than selling the story of his first-term accomplishments to voters.

“The mistake of my first term -- couple of years -- was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right,” Obama said in an interview with Charlie Rose taped yesterday at the White House, according to a video excerpt released by CBS News.

Obama, 50, said that, while his policies are important, “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.”

Obama leads Romney 50 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, even as two-thirds of those surveyed say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country, according to a poll released today by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington. The June 28-July 9 survey of 2,373 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percent.

Obama, who was joined by first lady Michelle Obama for the interview, said that, when he ran in 2008, critics said that, while he gave speeches well, they questioned his ability to fulfill the job of president. For the first half of his first term, he said, his problem was the opposite.

‘Better Job’

Predicting he would be re-elected, he said, “I need to do a better job” of inspiring and communicating to Americans in a second term.

Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, responded to Obama’s interview, saying that “being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading.”

“President Obama has failed to lead,” Romney said in a statement released by his campaign. “No wonder Americans are losing faith in his presidency.”

CBS planned to broadcast additional segments of the interview on July 15-16.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at mtalev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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