"Look, I don't mind presidents that have the quality of a law professor," he said. "But presidents need to also have the heart of a warrior. That's what way you get things done, is you engage in the fight."
Panetta, a former CIA director and defense secretary, said presidents become isolated in the White House, unable to gather multiple perspectives before making policy decisions. He added that Obama cannot become mired in the current Washington gridlock.
"If he wants to be able to get the things done that he wants done…he has got to get into the ring," Panetta said.