“I am not a dictator,” President Obama said Friday while defending his efforts to stop the sequester. “I’m the president.”
Obama said there are limits to what he can do to get a deal on the sequester during a press conference in which he blamed Republicans for standing in the way of a deal.
The president was responding to a question about why he hadn’t locked the leaders into a room to get a deal. “So ultimately if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, ‘I have to catch a plane,’ I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway,” he said.
Obama met with Republican leaders Sen. McConnell (Ky.) and Speaker Boehner (Ohio) before the press conference. He has been criticized by Republicans for not doing more to try to reach a deal. GOP leaders say he has been more interested in blaming Republicans for the $85 billion in automatic cuts set to be triggered on Friday than in crafting a deal.
But Obama on Friday characterized himself as the reasonable party in the talks and someone who couldn’t force Republicans to make a deal.
“I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington that even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree that I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld and convince them” to agree on a deal, Obama said.