July 29th, 2010
06:26 PM ET
4 years ago

Axelrod to Democrats: Blame the GOP

'We're not interested in re-litigating the past but we don't want to relive it either,' Senior White House adviser David Axelrod said after a meeting with Senate Democrats on Thursday.
'We're not interested in re-litigating the past but we don't want to relive it either,' Senior White House adviser David Axelrod said after a meeting with Senate Democrats on Thursday.

Washington (CNN) – Senior White House adviser David Axelrod told Democratic senators behind closed doors on Thursday that if they want to win re-election they need to go on offense and stress to voters that it's Republicans who are to blame for the economic mess the country is in today.

"We're not interested in re-litigating the past but we don't want to relive it either," Axelrod said after the closed-door strategy session with Senate Democrats in the Capitol. "People need to know that when they cast that Republican vote they're casting that vote for those same discredited policies that punished the middle class and created this crisis in the first place."

A senior administration official added to CNN that President Obama will be "ramping up" his personal campaign schedule in a major way in September in order to make that very case, that his administration is moving the country forward after passage of key parts of his agenda - including the stimulus package, health care reform, and Wall Street reform.


But retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) said some of his colleagues told Axelrod at the private meeting that it's a "tough environment" in which many voters have such negative feelings about the direction of the country that it's hard to break though and get credit for some of the President's accomplishments.

"The feeling was expressed that people aren't listening to any of this," said Bayh. "Any positive message we have people aren't prepared to listen to it. They don't believe any of it. So in an environment like that the best thing to do is go on the offense against the other side."

Axelrod acknowledged the slow pace of the economic recovery "creates a difficult political environment" for Democrats running to maintain their majorities in Congress, but he counseled that over time the party will get credit for making tough decisions.

"Though we weren't responsible for digging the hole, we're responsible for solving the problems and it's going to take a longer time than people would like," Axelrod said after the private session, which also included Democratic strategists Paul Begala and Stephanie Cutter.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) noted that voters in his state have three former Republican lawmakers running for office this fall: Former Rep. Rob Portman for Senate, former Rep. John Kasich for governor, and former Sen. Mike DeWine for attorney general.

Brown said the former lawmakers "are asking voters for the car keys…after running the economy into the ditch. I think the election is that contrast. Do you want to go back to that or do you want to go forward?"
Brown argued that comparisons to the 1994 wave that swept the GOP into power in the House don't hold up this election season because Republicans are much less popular today then they were then.
"Democrats are a lot more optimistic than the pundits and what the Republicans are crowing about," Brown said.


Filed under: David Axelrod • Democrats • President Obama
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Joshua

    This is a real shocker since that is all the Campaigner and Chief does all day – blame other people. I heard he even did it on The View – hilarious. If you still believe the Democrats can actually govern your dreaming. The DNC excels at wreaking havoc on the opposition like they did on Bush for 8 years but ideas that actually lead us somewhere are nonexistant. You would have to find soemone other than Obama who has actually had to be accountable for a real job once in their life.

    July 29, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Augsbee

    We're not all morons, Mr. Axelrod. How about winning votes on the job performance of President Obama?????? Doesn't Axelrod trust Obama's performance???? Glad Axelrod doesn't care to insult President Obama by implying Obama can't win on his own merit. I wouldn't keep Axelrod after this insult if I were Obama.

    July 29, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. Dale

    What a novel thought! All they have to do is blame it on Bush and the Republicans and all will be OK. And this guy gets paid with our money to be the "Senior White House Advisor". Maybe Obama should lay off the political advice and listen to people who want to help the economy instaed of just pointing a finger at the other guy. Rather than take any responsibility, they just shrug their shoulders and blame the problems on some evil entity. Same tactics used today in Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and, dare I say it, Germany in the 30's.

    July 29, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  4. Denny

    The Dems have been running things far longer than they are willing to admit, and it's the Democratic party's left wing agenda that has gotten us here. It's accountability time in November – unless the public is gullible enough to believe that by then the Dems have created five million more new jobs, despite all they've done to kill jobs with their ideologically driven governing.

    July 29, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. thor

    So this is what is to be expected coming from the mouth of David Axlerod. Chicago style politics at it's best.Ain't gonnna work . Obama was elected to solve our nation's problems.Democrats have control of both houses of Congress.They've controlled the house since 2006 and both houses and the presidency since 2009.It was obama himself that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8%.It was Obama that has sent 60,000 more troops to Afghanistan.It is Obama that said he would close gitmo and didn't. It's Obama that been in office 18 months.And this phony healthcare bill is just that .a sham. It sure didn't help me because i couldn't afford the premiums because they changed levels based on a new risk assessment this past month.

    July 29, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. surveyman

    People aren't going to lay all the blame on the Republicans, and they shouldn't. This administration has spent an unprecedented amount of money, and it isn't working. Also, this administration has done nothing to work on the deficits that Bush was excorciated over. And, nothing has been done about Fannie and Freddie.

    July 29, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Get Real

    Is this the only excuse these people know how to use for anything.

    July 29, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  8. Andrew

    LOL Fantastic. In before they closed it!!!

    July 29, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  9. mrpilot21

    Mr. Axelrod, folks just aren't buying that excuse anymore. We did very well with President Clinton and a Republican Congress; we had a balanced budget and welfare reform. Presiednt Bush sold us down the river and President Obama has taken away our paddles. Actually, congress has, not the President. He only signs bills- congress creates them.

    What is the phrase? It's time for a change... again.

    July 29, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. Independent voter

    Axelrod speaks the truth!

    July 29, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  11. D.

    Yeh!
    The party of blame has been created by Axelrod!

    It was hard to match "the party on NO" but now this gives republicans the new counter line: "The party of Blame"!

    July 29, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  12. Tony 140

    OK I guess we need to wait for the economy to fully recover before the Democrats take ownership. Pretty easy to be a success that way but also pretty easy to be a coward.

    July 29, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  13. Angus McDugan

    You gotta love the liberals and how they can't focus on the future or any real solutions. They focus on the past and pointing fingers.

    REMEMBER THIS WHEN NOTHING OF ANY VALUE IS ACCOMPLISHED BY OBAMA AND HIS OUT OF TOUCH ADMINISTRATION.

    July 29, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. Jim in Florida

    Blame Bush. Blame the GOP. How novel an appraoch Axlerod.

    If you can prop your empty suit up against enough teleprompters maybe enough people will believe your garbage.

    Last time I checked the Stimulus Bill was your boy's baby. It is contributing to the mess, not contributing to the solution.

    Wait until 2011 when middle class America's taxes go up (since the DEMOCRATS have killed the Bush tax cuts – don't believe the bull about 250k and above getting hit with the increase) then you are going to see what Obama hath wrought, continued irresponsible spending by Obama and his jack booted socialist thuigs in Congress, high taxes, high prices, sky high unemployment, failures of small businesses left and right, continued foreclosures, and God only knows what else is in store for us.

    Try selling that in 2012 as the fault of the GOP, dimwit,

    July 29, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  15. Trythefacts

    Of course, they neeed to blame someone, because Democrats are unable to do the required tough things to get success. Democrats continue to believe lying is the way to get things accomplished.

    July 29, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  16. Joe P

    Got to love this guy. Forget that the Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac were the real culprits in the financial meltdown. And yes it was the Democrats like Barney Franks, Chris Dodd and Maxine Waters that protected these corrupt organizations not to mention the fact that Eric Holder enriched himself when he was enployeed there. It was like a piggy bank for the Demorats.

    Even the new so called Wall Street reform bill does not touch Fannie or Freddie.

    Great leadership-keep blaming the other guys.

    Message to the Ax-"your going to get you butts handed to you in November and again in 2012

    July 29, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  17. D.

    Now is the time to get the singers and rappers to get some music ready for us to have in her heads.TI would be a great beginning. And don't scream his sins- we all come short just in different ways. Come on TI, we need young people to vote in the all elections everywhere- the primary, the general or and special one, too. Reminder: They are ALL about You.

    July 29, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  18. muffet

    Coma cozy. This is exactly what the GOTP will do to regain power and finish the destruction that Bush and GOP so effortlessly and carelessly started. What a fickle society we live in.

    July 29, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  19. Laura

    Typical , he seems to forget that the Dems have had control of Congress for a long time. Princess Pelosi, Rotten Reid and Fatty Frank are also quite responsible for this mess.

    July 29, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  20. Dale

    It is true. Deregulation is the mantra of the GOP. Deregulation allowed the crazy risk-taking and dirty deals that the banks and wall street were involved in, which caused the crash. Normally the blame game is just a blame game, but in this case it is just pointing out cause and effect. GOP policies led directly to the big economy crash.

    July 29, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  21. normajean

    Axelrod and Brown are right on. If we let the Republicans back in office it will be more and more of what we are suffering through right now. They don't care what happens to you, the people, as long as their pockets are full of money. For the last two years, they have done nothing but complain and obstruct. Anything we have gained has been by fighting past them. They have done NOTHING" to help even their own constituants."NOTHING " .They have lied and cheated their way and frankly, can you afford to live this way much longer?Most of us can"t. I'm looking to the future..they want to go back to the past.They have already threatened to dump the health plan Who knows what else they'll trash!Do we dare find out? I think not!

    July 29, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  22. Liz the First

    It's about time the Democrats got tough with the rethugs and laid out exactly who trashed this country and who's trying to clean up the mess. and i'm sure the haters and revisionists will argue but this is history. it's what happened! you can't change it by denying it or telling us to 'get over it.' and if the people of this country don't soon wake up to the lessons of this very recent history, we will be doomed to repeat it in short order. the late, great Molly Ivins put it perfectly when she said she hoped George Bush would be the dead chicken around the necks of the American people to teach them never to vote for a republican again. the country always does better under Democrats than rethugs. this, too, is history. ignore it at your own peril!

    July 29, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. JES

    You are so full of it.

    Have you forgot who lowered the requirements for getting a loan for a house.

    No use in going on but the DEM's are just as much to blame for everything.

    Just shut up and stop blaming and start fixing.

    How about the easy stuff like balance the budget forgot you can't do that you are the party of spending.

    July 29, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. GOP DUI

    I think this quote gets it exactly right:

    [and now the same Republicans] "are asking voters for the car keys…after running the economy into the ditch."

    Their tax cuts for the far-rich are what caused the overwhelming bulk of our long-term deficits. The illegal war that they insisted on in is what compromised our ability to finish our justified response in Afghanistan. Their disdain for regulation of any sort is what allowed the financial meltdown that Obama and the Democratic Congress were left to deal with.

    The Republican Tea Party wants our economy to fail, and they want our government to be unable to respond when it does. Then they'll blame both of those things on the Democrats. How stupid do they think we are?

    July 29, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  25. David

    Also make sure there are some independent candidates running under one of the many Tea Party flags to spread out the right wingers votes. . . help ensure that the GOP's Tea Party creation backfires on them.

    July 29, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
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