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January 19, 2010

Obama advisor: President would have done more to save Teddy's seat if asked earlier

President Barack Obama's top political advisor, David Axelrod, said today that if the White House had been asked earlier, more could have been done for embattled Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley in Massachusetts.

Axelrod, in a question and answer session with reporters, said it was too soon for "post-mortems" on the special election to fill the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's seat. And for the record, he said that he still expected Coakley to win.

But it didn't take much reading between the lines to see that the president and his team are preparing to back-pedal as swiftly as humanly possible to distance Obama from a disastrous result tonight.

The Obama strategist volunteered praise for the Massachusetts Senate campaign run by the Republican, Scott Brown, and seemed to find nothing good to point to in the Democratic effort. He said he didn't want to "delve deeply into post-mortems on the day people are voting."

Axelrod appeared to reject the criticism that he and his team had been taken by surprise and should have done more to head off a Democratic collapse. He said it was "not exactly a revelation to us" that voters are angry and anxious after a year in which millions of Americans have lost their jobs and millions more see no evidence in their lives that the economy is recovering.

Axelrod also said that there were "local issues at play" in Massachusetts and that the Republican had run "a very clever campaign."

"As a practitioner in politics, my hat's off to him," Axelrod said.

He was asked whether Obama should have done more than make an eleventh-hour effort to head off a defeat that would be calamatous for his agenda.

"The White House did everything we were asked to do," he said. "I think if we had been asked earlier, we would have responded earlier."

Axelrod sought to cast the events of the day in the context of the president's first year in office, which ends at noon Wednesday.

A Democratic defeat in Massachusetts would imperil, if not outright destroy, the health care overhaul that has consumed Obama and Congress for most of the past year.

It would also become a pivot point for Obama's presidency, a calamity at the ballot box that would force him to shift his approach to governing. His rhetoric and efforts to forge bipartisanship, baldly rejected by Republicans, would have to be redoubled, at the very least. Unless Republicans reach out in response--which seems unlikely--the country faces a year of stalemate in Washington leading up to the November elections.

Meantime, liberal Democrats, who invested hope and enthusiasm in Obama, would have to dramatically recalibrate their expectations and deal with the fact that any realistic chance of advancing their issues in the foreseeable future have been dealt a decisive blow.

Axelrod denied a published report in Politico that Obama would respond combatively to a Republican victory.

"It didn't refelect any thinking that I know of," he said.

But the White House strategist outlined an election-year blueprint for Obama which suggested that Massachusetts is the beginning of a new, more populist-themed approach to governing, as many analysts have said.

The president plans to hit the road domestically more often than he did in 2009, when much of his attention was focused abroad.

A visit to Ohio this week marks the start of a more frequent travel schedule, including extended road trips, presumably to key states in the midterm voting.

"We're going to be doing a lot of this," Axelrod said of this week's Midwest trip. "This is just the first."

Axelrod said he wasn't "Pollyanna-ish" about the political situation-- a "tough environment for incumbents generally" and for the Democratic Party.

Ultimately, he said, voters will have to "make a judgment" about which party and its candidates offer "the best possibility for progress for them and their families" and "is fighting for the middle class." And which party is beholden to "powerful interests" and protecting "the status quo."

Posted by Paul West at 12:34 PM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010


It's been very frustrating to see the lack of focus from the DNC and the White House on these elections.

Virginia was lost because the Democratic candidate ran a horrible campaign and mostly on an issue that was made moot before McDonnell was even sworn in. Deeds was the man with no transportation plan and let VA elect a man who actually announced he'd be taking no action as soon as the dust settled.

New Jersey was lost because...well Corzine was just a disaster who should have been targetted in the primary harder. His career was wrecked the moment his SUV hit that guardrail with him not wearing a seatbelt inside.

Now it looks like the seat in Massachusetts will be lost because the candidate there can't even tell her baseball teams apart (among other things). It's bad strategy at it's finest that is portrayed as shifting trends in America. This one more than the others will come back to bite Obama and it could have been prevented.

Hopefully Pelosi et al in Congress are satisfied with their grandstanding for the last 12 months since their window for real change is just about slammed shut and the draft guard could be put on there by the end of tonight.

People still look for hope and the change we've seen has been deplorable. One could only hope and act so that Maryland can change for the better next.

For the final time...It's NOT Teddy's seat it's the people's seat...and it seems that the people are speaking LOUD and least I hope so!

And let the hand wringing begin!
Blame Bush on her loss. Or Ehrlich! Or blame Marsha Coakley. But DO NOT blame Obama and his progressive/liberal/socialist policies! Do not blame Obama for going to MA to lend a hand.

Obama goes to Virginia. FAILED! Strike 1.
Obama goes to NJ. FAILED! Strike 2.
Obama goes to MA. FAILED! Strike 3 YOUR OUTTA THERE BARRY!
A lame duck after only 1 year. Thats gotta be a record!

Bye Bye OweMalley-I hope your resume is current.

First of all, Voter's Ignorance - the only person displaying ignorance is you. The POTUS is BARACK Obama. My understanding is that he used the name Barry in college, b/c he was trying to fit in & thougth his first name would not help him. In any case, it doesn't hurt to show a little respect for the office, if not for the man.

I'm not happy with the rate of change we've seen either, but I blame the Congress, specifically the Republicans - who refused to make the slightest effort to reconcile their differences (probably so they'd have something to campaign on at the next election). If they'd put their greed aside, this country might move forward. Whether you like it or not, the Democrats, particularly the President, was elected witha huge margin in order to effect the changes he ran on. I think it's time that those in Congress (on both sides of the aisle) start doing the People's work. I also think it's time that our POTUS step in and be more proactive in getting his goals met.

Republicans run their campaigns to appeal to primal emotions. Democrats run their campaigns to appeal to logic and intellect. Emotional appeals work better with emotional electorates. Obama appealed to some emotionally and some logically, but the deadbeats they've been running out as their candidates suck.

All it proves is that the American electorate is back to being manipulated by empty-hat conservatives who appeal to their most desperate fears and ignorance. And the Democrats are back to assuming that if you just have good policy intentions the people will elect you.

voters will have to "make a judgment" about which party and its candidates offer "the best possibility for progress for them and their families" and "is fighting for the middle class." And which party is beholden to "powerful interests" and protecting "the status quo."

The answer to these judgments are neither and both. Let's not kid ourselves. The democrats aren't making back room deals with each other and having closed meetings with unions and the drug and insurance lobbies for nothing. Everyone needs to go and we need to start over with who deserves to represent us in Washington.

"House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said that angst voters have expressed early this election year is the result of GOP obstructionism, not the Democrats agenda."

Talk about out of touch? Talk about not having a clue? Talk about denial?

If this tool was right, would Brown be winning in Mass? Would Virginia and NJ governor seats gone to R's?

Hey Marylanders who are "represented" by this idiot, PLEASE vote him out in November.

"show a little respect for the office, if not for the man."

I'll show the same respect for the office that it received from the likes of your fellow party members for the past 8 years.

That is what it deserves.

And for Barry, well you earn respect and he has not yet done that.

"Republicans run their campaigns to appeal to primal emotions. Democrats run their campaigns to appeal to logic and intellect"


Axilrod comments amounts to nothing but rubbish. He was among those who over the past months have arrogantly maginalized the Democratic base. Now he is blaming it all on Coakley and the job environment. And who had the best opportunity to do something about jobs—the White House. Instead, Obama and his team chose to placate Wall Street and Olympia Snowe instead of focusing on the needs of Main Street. They have even delayed spending much of the stimulus fund in the hope of using it to do things later this year as mid-term election time approaches. The real problem is this: Democrats are BORN LOSERS. They have been proven to be deficient in many areas. While many in their ranks are corrupt, fighting over their petty projects and re-election alliances with corrupt special interests, Republicans closed ranks and fought back with more effective political strategies. To make matters worse, Obama abandoned his base only to scramble at the zero hour of the Massachusetts’s senate by-election to call upon it for help. That is opportunistic. What he and his political advisers have done over the past 10 months is unforgivable. They forgot the people who were critical in putting them in power and instead opted for a fruitless marriage with Wall Street and the types of Olympia Snowe. This amounts to political malpractice. Democrats may occasionally win elections, but they don’t know how to stay in power. Though Bill Clinton won two terms, Democrats lost both House of Congress and the Republican majority began. Even after devastating losses in New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races in 2008, Martha Coakley still took voters for granted in her senate race and behaved like a snobbish elitist. This woman is not ready for politics. Bye bye Lady Coakley! Right now, Obama’s prospect for a second term is very much in doubt. What a bunch of losers!

What could he have done, short of running for it himself?

...His rhetoric and efforts to forge bipartisanship, baldly rejected by Republicans, would have to be redoubled, at the very least.

what efforts? do you mean like Obama saying, 'we won'? do you mean Obama, Reid and Pelosi negotiating the health deal in secret? please, help me out and detail all of the Obama 'efforts' to forge bipartisanship.

Axelrod says "local issues in Massachusetts"... gosh, looks like there are lots of "local issues" out there; in fact, they're everywhere that a democrat is losing an election, such as VA, NJ and MA. There were almost some "local issues" in upstate New York too.

You don't get it: We, THE PEOPLE, don't want what this President is attempting to do to this Nation.

It is 0600. Home page of the Sun website and not one word of Scot Brown's victory, THE PEOPLE'S victory. And you wonder why readership is down. Truly pathetic.

You write: "His rhetoric and efforts to forge bipartisanship, baldly rejected by Republicans..." What were these efforts? Shutting Republicans out of legislative authoring and negotiations? Obama's infamous "We won" line? How about when the Democrats refused to even look at the Republican healthcare reform plan that focused on tort and malpractice reform, nationalizing insurance regulation and know, the things that are driving the cost of healthcare through the roof? Obama and especially Pelosi and Reid have soared partisanship to new levels! That you could write that line, even in an opinion piece, is just stunning. What little history and experience Obama has shows little regard for crossing political lines...Chicago politics doesn't raise flexible, conciliatory sons and daughters. I'm not saying that the Republicans have had bi-partisanship heavily on their minds either, but the ONLY bi-partisan votes of note (with mroe than a couple from the alternate side) in the last year have been those AGAINST Obama's agenda. That says something.

I forget who said it recently, but I think it's true: the Democrats have misread the results of the 2008 elections. America kicked the incumbent party out and put the only other one did not change political ideals. In other words, the rejection of Republicans at the polls in 2008 was NOT a mandate for an expensive, transfer-of-wealth liberal agenda. This is showing to be more and more the case.

"We are 5 days from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."
Barack Hussein Obama


Evidently, the American people are waking up, and I remain confident that government by the people will take the day over Barry, Nancy, Harry, Barney and all the other arrogant thugs ( the most deplorable type of people imaginable, for God's sake!) who have been abusing process and trust to advance their radical and nation-crippling agenda. Kudos to Massachusetts (of all places) for perhaps saving us all from the health care nightmare which they are trying to force upon us. Obama should be ashamed, he's an absolute embarrassment to this great country. He should resign, because things will only get worse now that he and his cronies' agenda has been made painfully transparent. He's a pathetic grifter who does not love this country. Coming your way soon, Martin, Ben and Barbara is the come-uppance to your inflated egos and poor policies. Maryland needs to rid itself of you..

"The rejection of Republicans at the polls in 2008 was NOT a mandate for an expensive, transfer-of-wealth liberal agenda." Well said Bob. All the leftist libs out there who think the American people subscribe to big, ever-expanding government at the costs of all tax-payers (especially the middle class), you are wrong. In this country we subscribe to the idea that one gets ahead by his or her own hard work, ideas and risks. Big government is a detriment to this idea and only creates more entitled citizens who perpetually suck at the govt. teet. Basic stuff really. So climb back in your prius hybrids and stick your heads back in the sand.

"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," the president said.
Thank you, President Clueless. Keep talking that way, and Waterloo is just over the hill.

Barack Hussein Obama is the biggest failure since FDR. He has accomplished absolutely NOTHING since taking office a year ago. All he has done is push a socialist agenda. Do you liberals like the idea of "spreading the wealth"? What was the first thing Obama did when taking office? You liberals remember the $787 BILLION stimulus that shoved down everyone's throat so "unemployment would not exceed 8%"? Or that no one earning under $250k would see a tax increase? Guess what liberals? EVERYONE will see their taxes going up after this year.

Does Obama's website sound familiar? You know... the place you can go to see how many "jobs have been saved or created"? How many jobs have been "saved or created" in districts that don't even exist? Do you liberals know his own website cost almost $20 MILLION?

You want to talk transparency? How about explaining the bribes and private deals being made behind closed doors after promising debates to be made available to the public on C-SPAN? How about explaining how you try known TERRORISTS in a civilian court instead of military tribunals? Why has only a small portion of the stimulus money been spent when unemployment is at 10%? Oh yes, by the way, the REAL unemployment rate is over 17% (U6)!!!! Why has Obama spent more in deficit spending in his first year than any President in history? He even failed in Copenhagen, TWICE, when trying to bring the Olympics to hometown Chicago and could not strike a deal of his own on climate change!!!!

You liberals have no idea what is going on. If the economy is "recovering", why are foreclosures STILL at an all time high?

All you liberals think Obama is such a great President when he has not done ANYTHING!!!!!! Please, name one thing Barack Hussein Obama has done other then put the U.S on a path of self destruction.

We must start call obamination teflon barry. Of course everything will be Bush's fault since things were so so bad when you took over. Seems like things were worse when Ronald Reagan took over for worthless jimmy and things got better QUICK. This victory was about policy not party. The win was for the tea baggers and those that want the Constitution to matter. No more spending sprees and closed door meetings. After the coming election defeats in November that put the dumbocrats further out of power, look out for the next run of Hillary against Obama in the dumbo primary. Those two years will be priceless.

O'Bama would have been no help at anytime during the campaign. He is exactly what the people voted against.

While I agree that the people disagree with Obama’s policies and his election was not a mandate and that “The rejection of Republicans at the polls in 2008 was NOT a mandate for an expensive, transfer-of-wealth liberal agenda.”

He was still elected into office because of the failures of GW Bush. I hope the Republicans bear this in mind if they once again come into power. The president MUST listen to the voice of the people.

I would like to see the destruction of the two party system. Both parties nominate a candidate base on popularity and money not what best for the People.

I hope the next election the People decide to elect a candidate who is OF the people and FOR the people.

Then we will see change

If Teddy had not changed the rules 5 yrs ago the dems would have held the seat it was the law in Mass. that the Gov. would appoint a Sen. if someone left in the middle of a term, but Mitt was Gov. when Kerry was running for Pres. so Teddy changed the rules to a special election so Mitt could not appoint a rep. if kerry won the presidency.

"President would have done more to save Teddy's seat if asked earlier."...Really? Does anyone really believe that the President had no idea that in the result of a Republican taking over that Senate seat his Health Care "Plan" would be in danger? I am sure no one had to ask the President for help, he was well aware of what was on the line.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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