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A chastened Obama seeks to reconnect with American people

November 03, 2010|By Michael Muskal

One of the Democrats' frequent refrains in the election was that people didn’t know the accomplishments of the Obama administration. If they did, they would be more supportive of the president and his party.

On Wednesday, President Obama struck a more modest tone, accepting responsibility for his party’s election losses and promising to work harder to connect with people.

“There is an inherent danger in being in the White House and being in the bubble,” Obama said. “Folks didn’t have any complaints about my leadership style when I was running around Iowa for a year. And they got a pretty good look at me up close and personal, and they were able to lift the hood and kick the tires, and I think they understood that my story was theirs.”

How much Obama connects with regular people will likely be a recurring theme as the 2012 presidential drama unfolds. But it has always been an issue for an Ivy League-trained lawyer who got his start as a community organizer and who ran for president on the hope of a new style of politics to match new policy directions.

“When you’re in this place, it is hard not to seem removed,” a humbler Obama said. “One of the challenges that we’ve got to think about is how do I meet my responsibilities here in the White House, which require a lot of hours and a lot of work, but still have that opportunity to engage with the American people on a day-to-day basis, and know -- give them confidence that I’m listening to them.”

Obama noted that other presidents including Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan have faced the same questions of how they felt peoples’ pain after two years in office and whether their government cared.

 “Now, I’m not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night,” Obama said of the midterm elections. “I’m sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons.

”The relationship that I’ve had with the American people is one that built slowly, peaked at this incredible high, and then during the course of the last two years, as we’ve, together, gone through some very difficult times, has gotten rockier and tougher. And it’s going to, I’m sure, have some more ups and downs during the course of me being in this office.”

Michael.muskal@latimes.com

Twitter.com/LATimesmuskal

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