President Obama spoke to CBS News about the possibility of reaching compromise with congressional Republicans on the national debt, stating that he believes a deal will be possible after November's election.
In an interview that aired Tuesday evening, the president spoke out on his relationship with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who rejected Obama's "grand bargain" debt ceiling offer last summer.
"I like the speaker personally, actually," Obama told CBS' Scott Pelley. "You know, I actually think that he is a good and decent man who I think wants to do the right thing for the country. His challenge is that there's a wing of his caucus now that is prominent, vocal and thinks compromise is a dirty word. And he hasn't been able to control that caucus."
Obama said that while he has a working relationship with Boehner, the nature of election year politics have stalled compromise for the time being.
"Two months before an election," Obama said, "the speaker is obviously supportive of my opponent and his party and he wants to win as many seats as he can. And he's not gonna go out of his way to try to help me get things done that he thinks I may be able to take credit for."
The CBS interview aired the same day that Moody's Investors Service said it would likely downgrade the United States' debt rating if lawmakers failed to reach a deal on the federal budget. Last year, rival agency Standard & Poor's knocked down the country's credit rating for the first time in history after Obama and Boehner failed to reach an adequate compromise on debt reduction.
The interview, portions of which aired earlier this week, also coincided with the release of Bob Woodward's new book, "The Price of Politics," which offers details on the July 2011 debt battle that led to the S&P downgrade. As The Huffington Post's Jon Ward reported, Woodward details failures on both sides to reach an agreement.
"When you examine the record in depth, you cannot help but conclude that neither President Obama nor Speaker Boehner handled it particularly well," Woodward writes in the book, released Tuesday. "Despite their evolving personal relationship, neither was able to transcend their fixed partisan convictions and dogmas. Rather than fixing the problem, they postponed it."
As the AP reported Tuesday, the latest downgrade threat has done little to spur action in Washington:
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said he's not confident that Congress can reach a deal and avoid a downgrade. No serious negotiations are expected until after the November elections.
Boehner's Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, was far more hopeful that "some kind of agreement" would be reached after the elections. Reid suggested that the results of the election will weaken the GOP's resolve to block tax increases on wealthier earners and that Republicans will be more willing to compromise.
During the CBS interview, the president also gave his thoughts on the country's political division, rejecting the idea that the country is ideologically polarized.
"There's a segment of the country that's deeply divided," the president said. "It'd be hard to put a number on it... More than anything I think what people would like to see is an end to political maneuvering in Washington and more of a focus on getting the job done."
WATCH THE CBS NEWS INTERVIEW CLIP BELOW:
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