TODAY   |  November 04, 2010

President Obama humbled by voters

During a post-Election Day address, President Obama acknowledged voters’ frustration and the “shellacking” they delivered to his party. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> midterm elections. president obama is taking responsibility for the devastating defeats suffered by democrats. will tuesday's results lead to a change in the way he leads the country? chuck todd is our white house correspondent and political director. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. the president let it all hang out. he was clearly drained from making all those campaign condolence calls to the democrats that lost on tuesday. he even put himself on the couch a bit as he talked publically about what is a frayed relationship with the american public.

>> it feels bad.

>> reporter: reflecting on the democrats' big loss at the polls.

>> i'm not recommending every president take a shellacking like i did.

>> reporter: president obama turned introspective.

>> this is something i think every president needs to go through because the responsibilities of this office are so enormous and in the rush of activity, sometimes we lose track of the ways that we connected with folks that got us here in the first place.

>> reporter: asked repeatedly what went wrong for democrats, mr. obama accepted some responsibility.

>> it underscores, for me, that i've got to do a better job, just like everybody else in washington does.

>> reporter: but it was a far different barack obama than the one swept into office two years ago with what he felt was a loud mandate from the american people .

>> because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to america. [ cheers and applause ]

>> reporter: the one who got huffy with former rival john mccain when mccain questioned the health care bill.

>> let me make this point, john, because we are not campaigning anymore. the election's over.

>> reporter: throughout the campaign, mr. obama promised repeatedly he would change the way washington works.

>> we have to change washington now.

>> reporter: but wednesday, a more chastened president obama admitted he had fallen short.

>> we were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn't change how things got done.

>> reporter: and suggested he was in good company.

>> a couple of great communicators -- ronald reagan and bill clinton -- were standing at this podium two years into their presidency getting very similar questions.

>> you can take it from me, washington ain't seen nothing yet.

>> the president is relevant here, especially an activist president and the fact that i am willing to work with the republicans. the question is are they willing to work with me.

>> reporter: unlike bill clinton the president feels he's relevant and frankly speaker designate john boehner said it well. right after the president gets back from india and asia in the next ten days, he plans on having speaker to be boehner and senate minority leader mitch mcdonnell and the democratic leaders over to the white house to begin their new relationship,