Obama team: Campaign was great, but candidate more important
November 8th, 2012
03:52 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama team: Campaign was great, but candidate more important

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's campaign chiefs said on a final, victorious conference call Thursday that ground game and a changing set of nationwide demographics helped drive the president's re-election, but that the infrastructure responsible for propelling two winning presidential bids wouldn't necessarily bolster just any Democratic candidate in 2016.

"There's no doubt that we had a game plan from the beginning, and we executed it well, and that was reflected on Tuesday," said David Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser to Obama's campaign. "We have a bunch of very smart people, most of them young enough to be my kids, who once again re-invented the campaign, as in 2008, using the best tools."

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Those tools included unprecedented access to information about voters, and an aggressive push to make contact with them through phone calls and door knocks. At the end of the campaign, Obama's team said they had reached 125 million potential voters using their system of personalized contacts.

Also at work, Axelrod said, was a shift in the electorate that benefitted the Democratic incumbent.

"This president reflects this country in 2012, and he put together a broad coalition that reflects the country, and that was important and enabled us to win," he said, pointing to large margins of victory for Obama among African Americans, Latinos, women and young people.

Wins among those groups should prompt some "soul searching" among Republicans, Axelrod said, adding that for the last several years the GOP had operated "way outside the mainstream" of present-day American values.

(Also speaking on the call, Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina said that members of Romney's campaign team, including his counterpart Matt Rhoades, were "hard working Americans who wanted to make this country better.")

So what happens to the now-legendary Obama campaign machine that's been operational for nearly six years? The Obama team said they would have to wait and see what their supporters want before taking any steps.

"We're going to go through a process with our supporters, and have conversations with them about what they want to do next," Messina said. "We've always listened to the ground."

David Plouffe, the White House senior adviser who led Obama's 2008 campaign, echoed those remarks, saying "you can't just transfer" the Obama campaign machine to another candidate.

"People are not going to spend hours away from their families and their jobs, contributing financially when it's hard from them to do it, unless the believe in the candidate," he said.


Filed under: 2012 • David Axelrod • President Obama
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Both of the President's campaigns were run to perfection. The BIG difference between the candidates was/is that the twit thought the election could be bought then he was taken down by a waiter at a millionaire dinner.
    The other difference is that the President has endured every unjust name calling with grace and dignity.
    The twit, on the other hand, showed the country and the world that he is an immoral, no character lying piece of slime and he can now redo his taxes to pay 9% instead of the 14% he claimed to being us closer to "our tax rates" which are an average of 28%. Yep, that's close!
    The best man won again!!!

    November 8, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. cali girl

    Both campaigns had the use of twitter, facebook and tumbler.
    The difference was the Presidents campaign had Boots on The Ground. Regular folks who believed it could be done went out and pounded the pavement, knocked on doors, went into houses and sat at the dinner table discussing the need for America to move forward.
    Billions from a handful of individuals can not buy an election.

    November 8, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. ShiWms Phx AZ

    Congratulations to President Obama and VP Biden. Two awesome Gentlemen! The best has won!

    November 8, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    Say whatever you want, but these guys are good at what they do plus, they had a good candidate from the start. The Romney campaign advisors were awful and their candidate even worse so there is no surprise the Obama team won.

    November 8, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Free is for Me

    Come on lets be real. You guys gave more free stuff away than the other party!! It was a brilliant strategy.. Repubs just need to learn to give every group something for free and they will become much more popular!! I keep watching the news looking for the next freebie I can sign up for. The excitement is almost too much to handle!!!

    November 8, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Bill

    @Marie MD

    Agreed!! And well said. I wonder if Karl Rove is looking for a new line of work? After the last two elections, his batting average
    is zero. I bet there a are a lot of PO'ed shadow money donors out there Karl. And this election also proved you can not buy or suppress the results of an election. The American people saw through the facade of lies and mud and did the right thing.

    November 8, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. St. James Place

    Thank you America for making the correct decision. President Obama is a leader that the whole country can trust.

    November 8, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Those tools included unprecedented access to information about voters, and an aggressive push to make contact with them through phone calls and door knocks. At the end of the campaign, Obama's team said they had reached 125 million potential voters using their system of personalized contacts.
    -----------

    Even here in Minnesota, where Obama was always slotted to win, the only door knocker I had was from his team. One assumes Romney was never really interested in Minnesota ... even at the end.

    November 8, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. Expat American

    How much of other people's money did Karl Rove spend per each electoral college vote won by President Obama?

    Not forgetting of course, the swing state of Florida that the President will also win!!!

    Axelrod/Plouffe to Karl Rove: "Are you going to keep barking toothless little dog; or are you every going to bite?"

    November 8, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |