On Sunday’s State of the Union, CNN’s Candy Crowley struggled to understand how the message the Obama campaign is sending to voters is any different now than in 2008, and exactly how much time the President needs to turn the economy around.
Crowley: Let me start with the first big question, which is: is the fact that the President is saying virtually the same thing that he said four years ago when he was campaigning, a recognition that he has not been able to achieve his goals?
Plouffe: No. The President laid out this week in a very important speech in Ohio the choice facing the country about the right things we need to do to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and we have a lot more work to do. We have to rebuild this—
Crowley: Is that your economic message: “We have a lot more work to do”?
Plouffe: Well, no, Candy. The point is, what direction is the country going to take? I think we all would admit the economy needs to strengthen, we have to create a lot more jobs. The question is what’s the best way to do that? Our approach is let’s reduce the deficit in a fair and balanced way, let’s have an economy where hard work is rewarded and everybody gets a fair shot. And as we reduce the deficit, we have the ability to invest in things like rebuilding this country, a new energy future, make sure we continue to lead the world in innovation. But the important thing is there’s a choice here. Governor Romney and his allies in Congress, they want to go back to the same policies that created the recession and we know that won’t work. And so really the American people have to decide which direction they want to go.
Crowley: So those are goals that he’s setting out, but it’s not a plan. What does the next four years look like? What’s the big idea that people are going to vote on in November?
Plouffe: Well it is a plan. It’s about what’s the right way to get 4 trillion dollars in deficit reduction.
Crowley: But you’ve had four years to do that.
Plouffe then responded that the administration has accomplished quite a bit since taking over, like education reform, healthcare reform, tax cuts for the middles class, etc…
Crowley told Plouffe that there isn’t a big idea that is any different from 2008 and that it’s really a stay-the-course message.
Plouffe disagreed, saying they do have big ideas like the direction the country should go in, for example.
But Crowley wasn’t buying Plouffe’s argument that the Obama campaign really has a new message that they could sell to voters. She asked Plouffe how they were going to accomplish in the next four years what they haven’t already accomplished in the first four years.
Plouffe went into his “Blame Bush” mode, without naming the former president, by saying that some of the problems predate the recession and to solve them will take a long time.
He also blamed Congress for stopping the President’s agenda and costing the economy the potential to create one million jobs, to which Crowley responded that she didn’t foresee a change in the make-up of Congress and that there might even be a Republican Senate.
That pretty much destroyed Plouffe’s argument that Obama would be able to actually deliver on anything if he is re-elected.
At least right now he has a Democratically controlled Senate, and when he was elected he also had a Democratically controlled House, which helped him pass his expensive health care legislation. Obama has also managed to rack up record trillion dollar deficits while increasing the national debt to a level that can’t possibly be repaid.
The well-oiled Obama machine of 2008 has given way to a disjointed re-election effort that has campaign surrogates complaining about the attacks on private equity and loyal liberals in the media questioning whether or not the Obama campaign can find a message beyond blaming Bush or blaming Congress for high unemployment and lackluster economic growth.
Even Plouffe would have to admit that voters are heavily influenced by pocketbook issues, and under Obama the pocketbooks have been filled with a lot of empty promises and increased joblessness. This does not bode well for Obama this fall.
Crowley wanted to know “where’s the beef?’ and what she received from Plouffe was chicken feed.