David Plouffe on Protesters, Herman Cain, Senate Jobs Vote

The White House’s top political adviser told me this morning that President Obama is fighting for the same reforms as the   Occupy Wall Street protesters  and that a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire tonight will highlight how Republicans are not.

“If you’re concerned about Wall Street and our financial system, the president is standing on the side of consumers and the middle class and a lot of these Republicans are basically saying, you know what, let’s go back to the same policies that led us to the great recession in the first place,” said David Plouffe , who ran the president’s 2008 campaign and now works in the White House.

“The protests you’re seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens all across America,”  Plouffe. “People are very frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don’t seem to play by the same set of rules. The question is, on Wall Street reform, which the president passed, for instance most of the Republicans in Congress and I believe all the Republicans on the stage tonight in New Hampshire, they want to unwind Wall Street reform.”

Republican presidential candidates will take part in a round table debate on the economy tonight in New Hampshire. The debate is sponsored by Bloomberg and The Washington Post.

But what can President Obama do about the flagging economy? Democrats will get a procedural vote in the Senate tonight on the president’s jobs plan. But without even unanimous support among Democrats, it is sure to fail.  Plouffe said he looks forward to seeing lawmakers take a stand, even if the bill has no chance of advancing tonight.

“We’re going to get the vast vast majority of Democratic senators tonight,” said Plouffe. “We hope we get some Republican senators because the economy is far too weak. The question is are we going to do something about it or are we just going to sit back.”

Read the Obama Campaign’s warning to Congress on the jobs bill.

Plouffe said this jobs bill is just the first chapter in President Obama’s plan. “We’re going to keep at it and make these members of the House and Senate vote whether they want to put teachers back to work, whether they want to give tax cuts to the middle class, whether they want to give tax cuts to veterans,” he said.

“By the end of the year the question for Washington, people in both parties is, are you going to be able to report back to your constituents that you did something to help the middle class, help the economy at a time when it direly needs it.”

This morning I asked President Obama’s top strategist about the phenomenon of Herman Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO who has been rising in Republican polls. Cain said in the New York Times that the game plan for his strategy comes directly from President Obama’s 2008 playbook.

Cain has called David Plouffe’s book on 2008, “Genius” and said, “I don’t have a problem taking a good idea and using it, even if it did come from Obama.”

“I’m not an expert in the Republican primary process. To use a baseball term here, we’re still in the first or second inning here. We’re still going to have a lot of twists and turns before early January here. What I do think George you’ll see on the stage in New Hampshire tonight is all the Republican candidates subscribing to the same economic policies that led to the Great Recession. They want to let Wall Street write their own rules, huge tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations,  not investing in things like education and rebuilding the country.”

Plouffe said there is no doubt the coming election will be close. I asked him about Vice President Biden’s recent suggestion that Republicans could beat President Obama.

“We’re going to have a close election,” said Plouffe. “Some things are not going to change between now and next november. We’re obviously in a tough economy. We’re going to have a very close election as most presidential elections are. So we’re going to have to fight for every vote and that’s what we’re going to do. But what the President is focused on is how do we put people back to work in the short term and how do we rebuild the country in the long term.”