And these are the problems that he was asked to deal with when he took office, and he readily accepted that. But I said to him a year ago, "Mr. President, your numbers are going to be considerably worse a year from now than they are today, because you can't govern in an economy like this without great disaffection," and that's -- and that's what's happened.
People are working harder. If they have a job, they're working harder for less. They're falling behind. That's been true for a decade. They look -- and they look at a wave of irresponsibility from Wall Street to Washington that led to that. And the -- and those were the frustrations that got the president elected in the first place, and they were reflected again on Tuesday.
MORAN: But it is not just the situation, is it, David? I wonder if it's also -- and this is what I'm asking -- the policies and the approach of the president. If you had the last few months leading up to this political moment to do over, what would you do over? What have you learned?
AXELROD: Well, look, first of all, some of those policies were ones that no one wanted to undertake but were absolutely essential. Nobody wanted to have to throw a lifeline to the financial sector. Nobody wanted to shore up the auto industry. Nobody wanted a $787 billion emergency Recovery Act as our first initiative as president.
But the -- but our responsibility was to make sure that the economy didn't tip into a second Great Depression, which was a real possibility. But those were not popular things to do.
I have no regrets about that. I think history will look back and say the president of the United States met his responsibility.
MORAN: You wouldn't do anything differently?
AXELROD: In terms of health care, one of the -- one of the -- one of the great burdens, one of the great burdens on middle-class families across the country, whether they have insurance or not, on small businesses, on government generally is the cost of health care. And what the president tried -- has tried to do and it continues to try to do is deal with that, so people don't have to -- don't have to face bankruptcy if they get sick, so that if you have a pre-existing condition, you can get covered, if you're a small business, you can afford health care. This is all part of bringing economic security to the American people
But process, eight months of debate, were less than satisfying. And that was clear. And if you look at the polls out of Massachusetts, people reacted as much to the process as anything else. Were there things we could have done there? Perhaps. We have to think that through.
But this president's never going to stop fighting to create jobs, to raise incomes, and to push back on the special interests' dominance in Washington and this withering partisanship that keeps us from solving problems.
MORAN: So no do-overs. But now David Plouffe is back, the president's campaign manager in 2008, the architect going over to the Democratic National Committee to help oversee House, Senate and gubernatorial races. It seems that this whole political moment caught you off-guard a little bit, at least in Massachusetts. Is the return of David Plouffe to a position of prominence here essentially an admission that the White House political operation failed the president and the party?