White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, in an interview with reporters, conceded that President Obama lost control of the stimulus debate by focusing too much on bipartisan outreach. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.
According to Emanuel, the White House "lost" control of the message for four days. He suggested that the president decided to change his tone after the House vote, when not a single Republican voted for the bill.
According to the WSJ Emanuel added that "Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition."
When the president spoke to House Democrats at a February 5th retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, he'd moved from courting Republican support to attacking them as obstructionists who clung to ""false theories of the past."
The top aide argued that despite the missteps, the final stimulus bill is "close to about 90%" of what they had wanted.
He also promised that the president will not stop reaching out to the GOP.
"The President's always going to reach out to people in both parties. I mean we have these upcoming summits, one on fiscal reform, and another one on health care. There's gonna be Republican participation, and that will never change."