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What’s next? President Obama talks about last night’s election returns

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Photo: -- President Obama holds news conference today to discuss yesterday's midterm election, November 3, 2010

Photo: -- President Obama holds news conference today to discuss yesterday's midterm election, November 3, 2010

Reflecting on the returns from yesterday’s mid-term election, President Barack Obama admitted today that he received a  “shellacking” from the voters.

At a White House news conference, the president blamed the sluggish economy for voter dissatisfaction and frustration, which resulted in the Republicans gaining a majority in the House and whittling down the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Also, the president says he takes responsibility for Tuesday’s disappointing election results:

Photo: Pete Souza/White House -- President Obama spoke to reporters during a news conference at the White House November 3, 2010

Photo: Pete Souza/White House -- President Obama spoke to reporters during a news conference at the White House November 3, 2010

“After what I’m sure was a long night for a lot of you — and needless to say it was for me — I can tell you that some election nights are more fun than others. Some are exhilarating; some are humbling. But every election, regardless of who wins and who loses, is a reminder that in our democracy, power rests not with those of us in elected office, but with the people we have the privilege to serve.

Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country and meet people where they live and where they work, from backyards to factory floors. I did some talking, but mostly I did a lot of listening. And yesterday’s vote confirmed what I’ve heard from folks all across America: People are frustrated — they’re deeply frustrated — with the pace of our economic recovery and the opportunities that they hope for their children and their grandchildren. They want jobs to come back faster, they want paychecks to go further, and they want the ability to give their children the same chances and opportunities as they’ve had in life.

The men and women who sent us here don’t expect Washington to solve all their problems.  But they do expect Washington to work for them, not against them.  They want to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely, not wasted, and that we’re not going to leave our children a legacy of debt.  They want to know that their voices aren’t being drowned out by a sea of lobbyists and special interests and partisan bickering.  They want business to be done here openly and honestly.

Now, I ran for this office to tackle these challenges and give voice to the concerns of everyday people.  Over the last two years, we’ve made progress.  But, clearly, too many Americans haven’t felt that progress yet, and they told us that yesterday. And as President, I take responsibility for that.

What yesterday also told us is that no one party will be able to dictate where we go from here, that we must find common ground in order to set — in order to make progress on some uncommonly difficult challenges.  And I told John Boehner and Mitch McConnell last night I am very eager to sit down with members of both parties and figure out how we can move forward together.

I’m not suggesting this will be easy.  I won’t pretend that we will be able to bridge every difference or solve every disagreement.  There’s a reason we have two parties in this country, and both Democrats and Republicans have certain beliefs and certain principles that each feels cannot be compromised.  But what I think the American people are expecting, and what we owe them, is to focus on those issues that affect their jobs, their security, and their future:  reducing our deficit, promoting a clean energy economy, making sure that our children are the best educated in the world, making sure that we’re making the investments in technology that will allow us to keep our competitive edge in the global economy.

Because the most important contest we face is not the contest between Democrats and Republicans.  In this century, the most important competition we face is between America and our economic competitors around the world.  To win that competition, and to continue our economic leadership, we’re going to need to be strong and we’re going to need to be united.

None of the challenges we face lend themselves to simple solutions or bumper-sticker slogans.  Nor are the answers found in any one particular philosophy or ideology.  As I’ve said before, no person, no party, has a monopoly on wisdom.  And that’s why I’m eager to hear good ideas wherever they come from, whoever proposes them. And that’s why I believe it’s important to have an honest and civil debate about the choices that we face.  That’s why I want to engage both Democrats and Republicans in serious conversations about where we’re going as a nation.”

More of President Obama’s comments and a Q&A with reporters on the White House website here.

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