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Presidents Claim Partial Responsibility For Midterm Drubbings

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's return to our coverage of the midterm elections here in the U.S. In a press conference yesterday, President Obama spoke of his party's losses at the poll.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: We were held accountable yesterday, and I accept my share of the responsibility in the result of the elections.

INSKEEP: Wait, wait - that's President Bill Clinton after his party lost Congress in 1994. Let's try to play this tape again, guys. Here's President Obama after the midterms.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm obviously disappointed with the outcome of the election, and as the head of the Republican Party, I share a large part of the responsibility.

INSKEEP: No - no, no, guys. That's George W. Bush after his party lost Congress in 2006. One more time, please.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As president I have a unique responsibility to try and make this town work. So to everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.

INSKEEP: So Obama is not the first president to suffer this kind of defeat. Others have been defiant. Bill Clinton battled Congress for a year before making deals. President Bush doubled down on his strategy in Iraq, and President Obama yesterday said he would move forward on immigration. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.