David Plouffe: Left Will Come Home for Democrats

By Lindsey Ellerson

Dec 11, 2009 1:58pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: President Obama is grappling with growing frustration from among liberal grass-roots, with many of the activists who worked hard for his election a year ago feeling alienated over his handling of health care, Afghanistan, Wall Street reforms, gay rights, and a host of other issues. But, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager said today on ABC’s “Top Line,” liberals will ultimately come back into the fold when it matters in forthcoming elections. “Of course there’s some people upset. But I think, I think people will look at the balance of his leadership to help us lead through the economy — that we finally got health insurance done,” said David Plouffe, the author of a new book about the Obama campaign, “The Audacity to Win.” “By the way, [health care reform is] something we’ve been trying to do for a hundred years, and I think a lot of the first-time voters, our toughest time getting them to vote wasn’t knowing who they were or money or organization; it was their cynicism. And this will say to them, ‘Your vote mattered. This is what hope and change was — was doing something like health insurance.’ ” Asked whether the president needs his liberal base to come back home in next year’s mid-term congressional elections, Plouffe responded: “He’s trying to do the right thing, and I think most Democrats are supportive of what he’s doing. Everyone’s not going to agree with everything he’s doing. But I think, you know, he’s great at having a longer-term strategic approach,” he said. “I think most Democrats are going to see, on the economy, on health care, you know, by next fall we’re going to begin to have our combat troops out of Iraq –something people aren’t focused on. I think that the left of the Democratic Party is going to say, ‘This guy, through his leadership, through his ideas, has done a great job.’ ” Democrats will be in a much better place by next November than many handicappers believe now, Plouffe said: “I will say this, that, you know, as the economy continues to heal, as health care passes and the things the Republicans have told us to fear — ‘death panels,’ loss of doctor choice — don’t happen, I think we may have a stronger hand than people think.” Watch the full discussion with David Plouffe HERE. Also today, we chatted with Susan Page of USA Today about the president’s speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, the latest in the health care push, and Sen. Chris Dodd’s reelection chances in Connecticut. On the angst in the liberal grass-roots, Page told us: “I think it’s dangerous for a president to be as out-of-sync with his strongest supporters. You know we saw with President Reagan, you know — he always had that conservative base he could count on. And with Bill Clinton, he had a base of liberals, of African-Americans that never deserted him however bad the times got.” “So I can understand why on something like health care he’s making compromises — he wants to get a deal no matter what. The war in Afghanistan I think is his biggest threat. If his plan for going ahead doesn’t seem to be working, if we continue to have 10s of thousands of American troops there in a war that seems to be becoming  a quagmire, that seems to be to be very dangerous for the president in terms of the supporters he needs to count on. You know, Republicans are praising him on Afghanistan now; they won’t stick with him if things start to get bad.” Watch the segment with Susan Page of USA Today HERE.

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