We brought them in when there was -- to begin that process. It just accelerated very quickly, and we felt that we had to seize the moment, because if we didn't, the American people would pay the price, the economy would pay the price.
AMANPOUR: Do you think it's -- I want to know what the strategy is. You heard -- you saw the -- the funny we had up there, Jay Leno saying the left is going -- the liberals are going left, the conservatives are going right, and everybody else is going through the middle. Is this a strategy? Is the president ditching the liberal base? Is he trying to be pragmatic? What is happening here?
AXELROD: First of all, I think we should be less focused on the political equations here and more on the economic equations.
AMANPOUR: Well, I just want to ask you about the pragmatism here.
AXELROD: And that's what we're doing -- but this is -- this is important, because the president's focus was one, which is, what do we do to keep this economy moving forward? What do we do to make sure that middle-class people in this country do not see their taxes go up?
And what we got here was a package that prevented their taxes from going up and added additional tax cuts that are going to make a difference for them and the economy. And that is -- and that's a win for the American people.
AMANPOUR: OK, but clearly he hasn't been able to convince them, because they're still, as they say, mad as hell, and he had to bring in President -- former President Bill Clinton into the White House..
AXELROD: When you say "them," you're talking about members of Congress?
AXELROD: Because the one public poll I saw showed very, very strong support for this compromise.
AMANPOUR: But still...
AXELROD: The American people count, too.
AXELROD: Of course, they do, but he had to bring into the briefing room, presumably to speak to the American people, the former president, Bill Clinton. And let's just put out what he said at the briefing room just this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. CLINTON: The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans and to maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs and to minimize the chances that it will slip back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that's pretty succinct. I mean, don't really like it, but this is the reason to have to do it. Do you think the president -- he's got many tools at his disposal. He's commander-in-chief. He's all sorts of things, including he owns the bully pulpit. Do you think he's using it in the way that he needs to, to sell these programs?
AXELROD: Oh, I think that he's been very -- he's been out there every day this week doing that, and I think that's one of the reasons why there's strong public support for it. So, yes, I think he has.
AMANPOUR: Let me talk about the stakes. Your outgoing top economic adviser, Larry Summers, he caused quite a stir this week, and said if this deal didn't pass, then the United States is headed for a double-dip recession.
AXELROD: Well, that's not quite what he said. I was there when he spoke. He said it would raise the possibility -- materially raise the possibility of a...
AMANPOUR: A double-dip.
AXELROD: ... a double-dip recession.
AMANPOUR: OK, well, he -- he raised that word...
AXELROD: But he didn't say we were headed for it.