President Obama suggested Sunday that Tuesday's loss in the 2014 midterm elections had more to do with politics than policy.
Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," Obama admitted that he sometimes thinks having the right policies should be enough but that his White House often hasn't gotten the politics right.
"When you start governing, there is a tendency sometimes for me to start thinking, 'As long as I get the policy right, then that's what should matter,'" Obama said, according to a transcript.
"And I think there are times, there's no doubt about it, where I think we have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we're trying to do and why this is the right direction," he said. "So there is a failure of politics there that we've got to improve on."
Republicans won at least seven Senate seats on Tuesday and double-digit House seats, though some races have yet to be called.
Obama said Sunday that his White House, in its final two years, needs to do a better sales job.
"I think that one thing that I do need to constantly remind myself and my team of is it's not enough just to build a better mousetrap," Obama said. "People don't automatically come beating to your door. We've got to sell it."
To the extent that the Democrats failed to do that on Tuesday, Obama said he bears blame.
"The buck stops right here at my desk," he said. "And so whenever, as the head of the party, it doesn't do well, I've got to take responsibility for it."
Obama also expanded on the decision to send more troops to assist the Iraqis in their fight against the Islamic State. also known as ISIS or ISIL. The Pentagon announced Friday that Obama had authorized the doubling, to 3,100, of the number of American troops sent to Iraq.
Obama emphasized in the interview Sunday that the troops would not be directly involved in combat. He added that the Islamic State is a potential threat to the United States and that the increase in troops represents a "new phase," in which the fight against the extremists can become less defensive.
"And so now what we've done is rather than just try to halt [the Islamic State's] momentum, we're now in a position to start going on some offense," Obama said. "The airstrikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL's capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making. Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back."
Asked about whether even more troops will eventually be needed, Obama wouldn't rule it out, but he said he thinks there will be fewer before there are more.
"What the commanders who presented the plan to me say is that we may actually see fewer troops over time because now we're seeing coalition members starting to partner with us on the training and assist effort," Obama said.
On immigration, he repeated that he will press forward with an executive action to deal with a "broken" immigration system. He said that he has given House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the Republicans ample time to come up with a legislative fix and that now is the time for action.
He also reiterated that Republicans can still pass legislation that he would gladly allow to take the place of executive actions.
The executive action is "not going to be everything that needs to get done, and it will take time to put that in place," Obama said. "And, in the interim, the minute they pass a bill that addresses the problems with immigration reform, I will sign it and it supersedes whatever actions I take."
At the end of the interview, Obama reflected on his own presidency. He suggested certain successes have been ignored or forgotten — pointing in particular the government's handling of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and, more recently, how it dealt with isolated Ebola cases in the United States.
Obama suggested that sometimes the real successes of his administration are undersold or not covered by the media.
"What I keep on telling my team here is don't worry about the fact that we're overworked or we're, you know, getting picked on. That's all irrelevant," Obama said. "What is relevant is we have the chance to help that person every single day. And we do. And sometimes you're going to get fanfare for it and sometimes you're not, but I still consider this the best job on Earth."