Saturday, January 23, 2010

As 2010 Election Year Heats Up, David Plouffe To Join White House Advisory Team

I'm not expecting any miracles here, but this does seem to be a step in the right direction.

David Plouffe, the man who managed President Barack Obama's campaign, will be taking on an expanded role as an outside adviser to the White House, according to sources familiar with the plan, a move that comes just days after a stunning defeat for Democrats in a Massachusetts Senate special election.

Allies of the White House cast the Plouffe move as less about the Massachusetts election and more about the fact that the election year is heating up and Plouffe has more free time following the publication of his campaign memoir late last year. Still, the timing is sure to stoke speculation that the White House is seeking to shore up its political operation.

After managing Obama's successful primary and general election races, Plouffe chose not to go into the White House -- as so many of his campaign colleagues did -- but rather return to the private sector and focus on writing his memoir of the campaign called "The Audacity to Win". The book was released on November 3, 2009.

Plouffe did stay involved with Organizing for America, the operation formed in the wake of Obama's victory to maintain the massive grassroots email and donor base built during the campaign. While OFA officials tout it as a success story there is increasing skepticism within the party about whether it has truly fulfilled its mission of bringing a grassroots army to bear on the President's top priorities.

Plouffe has also remained in regular touch with the President and his political team. The President talks fairly regularly with David," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "I know that it is somebody whose advice and counsel he both seeks regularly and
believes David is an exceptionally smart advisor who understands the type of anger and frustration that he's seen. "

In an op-ed set to be published tomorrow in the Post, Plouffe argued that finding a way to pass a health care plan is critically important to the electoral fate of the party in the 2010 midterms. Wrote Plouffe:

"Americans' health and our nation's long-term fiscal health depend on it. I know that the short-term politics are bad. It's a good plan that's become a demonized caricature. But politically speaking, if we do not pass it, the GOP will continue attacking the plan as if we did anyway, and voters will have no ability to measure its upside"

Plouffe's increased advisory role comes after three major defeats for Democrats in recent months. The party lost gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009 and watched somewhat helpless as state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) fell to Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R) in a special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

In each of those races, independents abandoned Democrats in droves; a new Washington Post poll shows that Brown won independents over Coakley by two-to-one margin on Tuesday, a huge reversal from the 2008 presidential election when Obama carried independents in Massachusetts by 17 points over Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Coakley's loss has stoked fears within Democratic ranks that the party is headed toward a major setback in November. Those concerns have led to considerable speculation that a number of wavering Members of Congress will choose retirement over the prospect of a very contested re-election race.

Since the Massachusetts race, however, no Senate or House Democrat has retired.

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