Despite a political climate toxic for incumbents, Democrats will hold on to both chambers of Congress following the elections in 2010, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe predicted defiantly on Tuesday.
Speaking just hours before the party lost a long-held Senate seat in Massachusetts, Plouffe acknowledged that voters had soured on the Democratic brand as the state of the economy remained unimproved. But while initially shying away from what he called the "prediction business" Plouffe eventually let his 2010 forecast be known.
"I do not think [Republicans] will regain either chamber," he said, in an event sponsored by The Progressive Book Club and moderated by the Huffington Post. "More than that I don't think they deserve to. They would return us to policies that soundly didn't work... That being said, we've won almost all there is to win in the House. Luckily we have some open seat opportunities. So we have got a lot of tough turf we are going to defend and a lot of people who won races in close to ideal circumstances. So they are going to have to run really good campaigns."
"We have a lot more ground to defend in the House and the Senate and the governor's races than the Republicans but no, I think we are going to maintain control of both of those chambers, I firmly believe," he added. "And we are going to have to work very hard to do it."
In a wide-ranging interview, Plouffe laid out the case that for Democrats worried about the electoral atmosphere solace would best -- and perhaps only -- be found in the form of legislative achievements.
"The best way to help excite Democratic voters is to deliver and solve their problem. So lets go pass health care," he said. "If you run away from it you are still going to get attacked for supporting the health care plan without any of the benefit [of the bill becoming law]... The truth and reality of health care are going to be a much more powerful thing for the American people than the mythology that the Republicans have created."
Asked to respond to Democratic criticism that Obama had not exhibited enough leadership to get this signature piece of legislation over the finish line, Plouffe insisted that - to the contrary - the president was owed credit for the progress made to this point.
"[Obama's] role has been firm all along and I don't think we would be where we are without his leadership," he said. "And the truth is, when health care gets passed... a lot of these narratives will fall by the wayside"
A frequent consultant to Obama's campaign arm, Plouffe defended Organizing for America for the work it had done in channeling the support of its 13-million members behind the president's agenda. But he hinted that he would like to see some changes in the party's other campaign structures. Pressed as to whether the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee should follow the Democratic National Committee's lead and reject donations from registered lobbyists, he replied:
"I happen to believe that the more we lead as a party showing its about people for us and not just about our policies - which is important - but about the way we run our campaigns, that's an effective thing."
He also offered support for a recent proposal by Democratic officials to rid the party's national convention of its superdelegate structure. "We should throw this open to the voters," Plouffe said, in reference to the highly scrutinized role that party insiders played in the 2008 primary process.
Not all of Plouffe's focus was spent on the Democratic side of the aisle. The man affectionately called Oz for his wizardry in the 2008 election threw a few partisan jabs as well, accusing the Republican Party of being co-opted by its "Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck" faction.
"As things stand now it is hard to see someone nominated doing well in the Iowa caucus and the South Carolina party without a lot of support from that wing of that party," Plouffe said.
"I'm sure she is going to get boffo ratings," he said of the former Alaska Governor's current gig as a Fox News contributor. "As a Democrat I'm happy to have her out there. I wish her book tour would last for about three more years."
Here is a clip of Plouffe discussing health care reform and the Senate election in Massachusetts:
Below is a video of the full interview:
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