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Barack Obama admits a mistake, sort of: He was too focused, didn't talk enough to Americans

January 20, 2010 |  4:10 pm

Republican former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Fox News Channel

A cautionary note for Republicans from a Republican.

A reflective note from Barack Obama for everyone.

And also some presidential defiance.

And no indication of any give on either side in the aftermath of Republican Scott Brown's historic Senate upset in the bright red state of Massachusetts.

Which sets the scene for a pretty fascinating 10 months of national politics leading up to the crucial midterm congressional elections in November.

First, Obama's first words on his first anniversary as president, a time way back when all things seemed possible and his approval was in the 70's, not lower 50's or worse.

It's not that Obama thinks he did anything bad or wrong. It's just that he now says he was so intent on getting things done and figured the rest of the country would get it without explanation.

So, who was that giving the healthcare speeches every other day and speaking directly to nationally-televised town halls all summer? By some counts, 411 speeches, remarks or comments plus 158 formal interviews.

Nevermind. ABCNews' George Stephanopoulos, who knows a little about White House ups and downs from his Bill Clinton days and nights, talks with the 44th president in the Roosevelt Room and finds him rested, reflective and also a tad defiant.

"If there's one thing that I regret this year," Obama said, "is that we were....

...so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are."

Obama says he thought hard policy work came first and "then people will get it."

Also, he senses a strong voter anger and frustration out there, the same feelings that swept him into office yesterday swept away any Democratic hopes of holding the Massachusetts Senate seat for another half-century.

But the Democrat traces the public's anger also back to eight long years of you-know-whose-failed policies.

So what about the divisive neverending healthcare debate that some think is dead now?

No, the Democrat says, it lives on and he is not giving up.

In fact, elsewhere on CNN's Situation Room Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs says the president has no intention of ramming the rewritten healthcare bill through the Senate before Brown becomes the 41st GOP blocking vote.

However, another option under discussion is ramming the Senate version through the House, which would obviate any need to deal again with the Brown-burdened Senate. They're talking amongst themselves in the White House on this.

(Gibbs also, btw, claims his is the most transparent White House in history and denies talk of backroom deals on such things as healthcare legislation. "If they're backroom deals," Gibbs retorts to Blitzer's question, "how do you know about them, Wolf?")

Over on Fox News, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who knows a little something about being a Republican seeking election in a Democratic stronghold, tells Neil Cavuto he's not hopeful about an Obama turnaround in strategy after one mere Senate seat loss. After all, it took losing both houses of Congress in 1994 to steer Clinton back on the moderate track he ran on.

Giuliani says he does not see the Obama administration noting Brown's upset election and suddenly negotiating with Republicans on a GOP alternative involving market reforms. "The message is quite clear;" Giuliani says, "the American people do not want the healthcare reform that President Obama is presenting to them."

The ex-senator, says the ex-mayor, "is in a terrible position. He is proposing something that the American people have rejected....If he doesn’t become a pragmatist, his party is in deep trouble."

However, Giuliani warns Republican supporters, “Let’s not get arrogant or presumptuous, still a long way to November, a lot of things can happen…Barack Obama is a very strong man…I think the only way he stops a Republican landside in November is if he moves to the middle.”

Related items:

Scott Brown's first speech as Mass. first Republican senator this century

Could Dems lose the Senate now?

Does Scott Brown's election doom healthcare?

Republican Scott Brown's upset of Martha Coakley in historic Senate race

Far left has taken over Democratic Party, says Sen. Bayh

The blame game: Who lost Massachusetts?

Obama personally joins Massachusetts quake relief

Democrats eye sneaky tactics to save ObamaCare

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Fox News Channel

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