President Obama held his year-end press conference today, and the tone got set with the very first question, from AP reporter Julie Pace: All things considered, "has this been the worst year of your presidency?" The president laughed and said, "That's not how I think about it." He acknowledged "frustrations" but also sought to pin some of the blame on Congress. Later, however, he cited the ObamaCare rollout when asked directly to name his biggest mistake of the year. “Since I’m in charge, obviously we screwed it up,” the president said. “I promise you, I probably beat myself up even worse than you or Ed Henry does on any given day," he said to ABC's Jon Karl, as noted by the New York Times.
- NSA: He promised to "make a pretty definitive statement in January" about changes in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. But "we need this intelligence," he added, asserting that the NSA isn't spying at home. "We can’t unilaterally disarm." He also said that Snowden had set off a "necessary" debate but that his disclosures had done "unnecessary damage" to the US.
- More on ObamaCare: It's a "good" product and "the demand is there," he said. "You've still got 2 million people who signed up."
- Economy: "I firmly believe that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America."
- Polls: He dismissed new ones showing his favorability ratings dropping. "If you're measuring this by polls, my polls have gone up and down a lot over the course of my career," he said.
- Iran: He defended efforts to find a nuclear agreement through diplomacy. “The alternative is possibly us having to engage in some kind of conflict," with “all its unintended consequences.”
- Congress: "It's probably too early to declare an outbreak of bipartisanship. But it's also fair to say we're not condemned to endless gridlock."
- Transcript: The Washington Post has one here.