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

Axelrod to Democrats: Blame the GOP

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/29/art.axelrod.file.gi.jpg caption ="'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. randy lilly

    Let's go Democrats! We may be bent but not broken. I'm a firm believer ..when the going gets tough, the tough get going! I'm doing my part in my small town of Hinton WV. I still believe in the Democratic Party.

    July 29, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  2. ken

    This is a funny article. Yes, Bush was bad. He spent money we did not have and took the country to war with a majority and bi-partisian vote from Congress. Now the Democrats are making things better by spending us out of existance, raising taxes to a level where no one will have a job, printing money to the point the Chinese are lecturing us about financial responsibility. The Republicans have been an embarasment, but the Democrats are trying to destroy this nation.

    July 29, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Minesh - troy, MI

    Democrats passed huge legislations with total power monopoly and have no positive accomplishment to show. Only dimwits would vote for them again.

    July 29, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    Special attention needs to be given to Ohio's 8th Congressional District Candidate Justin Coussoule Democrat. He is young, a West Point graduate, NOT an obstructionist, a lawyer, a family man, appears polite, congenial, excellent values and appears to be of high character and moral values. With his West Point creditials coupled with his military experience makes him go hand n' hand with Wright-Paterson, located within his district. He appears to be soft spoken and that may be his only drawback considering this highly polarized 2010 election. Might I add that Justin Coussoule does not know me he did not solicit me, an ordinary American Citizen for this endorsement. He would be an much welcomed breath of fresh air to the House of Representatives as opposed to a return incumbent John Boehner, and thats a given. I say this because the incumbent by virtue of his own actions has caused many Ohioans much embarrassment and shame. Thank you for reading my post and its an honest one.

    July 29, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. Rob NY

    Agreed! The best defense is an offense and it's SO easy to play that hand with the Republicants.

    July 29, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. La Piovra

    People aren't listening because they have been so stuffed like Strassburg geese with tea bags, Fox poop, and elephant dung that it is all they can disgorge every time they open their mouths. It's disgusting for those of us who have to see and hear it, here and from formerly sane former friends, but those who have ingested this mess are moribund from toxicity. The vaccine, in the form of instruction in critical thinking and informed citizenship, should have been given long ago. I hope it is not too late to find an antidote.

    July 29, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  7. hypocricnnation

    Not Only When You Makes Your Case Against Republicans, Do It With Undisputed (And Non Distorted) Images. Point Out Their Leaderships (Congressman Boehner And Senator McConnell) Lack Of Leadership. Show Their Unprecedented Abuses Of The Filibuster. Show Congressman Joe Barton Apologizing To (Now Former) BP Executive Tony Hayward. Joe Wilson's "You Lie!" To President Obama. Show The Tea Party's Unruly Behavior At The Health Care Debate And At Rallies. Be Willing To Defend Your Successes Too, Health Care Being Signed Into Law, Wall Street Reform, Extending Unemployment Benefits And Other Victories. Even This Can't Stop Some Losses, But It's A Much Better Resume Than Republicans Are Offering.

    July 29, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  8. ruty

    Amen-truer words were never spoken. If you vote republican-you are regressing. I know. I voted for George Bush two times. Look where it got us. I now vote democrat and and will do so as long as I live. Never,never again do I want a republican in charge. They are rich, old white men who only care about rich, old white men. Incompent Bush couldn't wait to get out of the WH. Dorky, redneck cowboy has been very quiet. Has anybody noticed?

    July 29, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  9. precious

    In 2008, we voted hoping for change, this year we should vote changing for hope. If a car is in a ditch/hole, you have to back it out. Sometimes, you have to back up out of certain situations, before you can move forward. Moving forward at full speed can be dangerous and cost lives. Don't be afraid of taking a step back and looking at the big picture. In the end you will see a clearer path and even though the road may be curvy, winding and long, you have to sometimes make a stop.

    July 29, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. RTB

    Right on.

    This kind of clarity gets muddy by the mean spirited tactics the Republicans are so adept at.

    Who in their right mind would want to return to the Republican policies that brought us this mess in the first place.

    We need a few more REAL DEMOCRATS and rid ourselves of the blue dogs and the likes of Lieberman and Nelson.

    July 29, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I will never understand politicians, especially their operatives.
    Do these poeple really need to be told that by pointing out blocked votes, watered-down bills and lack of action, the agenda promises us has been stymied?
    Of course, the other side of this is the Democrats, who had a clear majority, did not take advantage of pushinghtourgh the bills thye wanted.
    So when the finger pointing begins, I hope both sides are ready for the counter-attack.

    July 29, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. Republicans is smart in the head area

    The GOP is to blame.

    July 29, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. DENNA

    This is no lie. Our country was put into this position by the poor management style of the Rethug party. President Obama has managed to get some things done for us in-spite of the them. I think that if they would actually do some work, the Rethugs could actually help pull us out of this mess. But they are only interested in getting reelected and if America has to suffer until this happens, well, so what?

    July 29, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  14. valwayne

    After the failure of the corrupt stimulous bill, the arrogance of the corrupt healthcare bill being crammed down our throats, the massive vote buying and corruption, trillions in corrupt spending and debt damaging our economy Axelrod thinks what will work is blaming Republicans who haven't controled Congress for 4 years, or the White House for nearly 2? We need massive political change in Nov if we are going to get out of this arrogant radical left wing mess.

    July 29, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  15. Pragmatic

    The republicans voted against health care reform ( and did nothing to reform anything, health, immigration, SS – nothting 2000=2008)

    The republicans voted against extending unemployment benefits with unemployment nearly 10% but want the Bush tax cuts for the rich to continue forever! The republicans voted against financial reform. against campaign funding reform .... shout loudly about deficits but all chanted "deficits don't matter" when it came to war or Medicare ... both unfunded ...

    When asked what the republicans would do if elected, John Boehner replied smugly ... "TBD = to be decided!" Either no plan or plans so frightening, they can't tell the voters ...

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it ... the GOP just wants to relive it!

    July 29, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  16. goofus

    What an old worn out mantra!

    July 29, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  17. Bill

    This is so typical of the Obama Administration going forward. There's nothing left to run on these days except to blame Bush and the GOP. What Obama and the DNC failed to recognize and hope that Americans can't see, is that for the past two years, they haven't done anything that's meaningful to solve the problems that they so vigorously claimed caused by Bush and the GOP. In fact, problems are worse, even with all that money spent thus far. It is Obama's leadership and the DNC's inability to reverse the economic situation with having all three branches of the government in their power that has caused so much anger. People are beginning to see words and actions from the Democrats are completely two different things. People (including me) voted for change in 2008, but instead we got something completely opposite. "Change" and "hope" are merely empty words unless we see it fulfilled. After two years, those words are simply lies and rhetoric by nothing more than another "typical" politician. We won't be fooled again.

    July 29, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  18. jenn, philadelphia

    Of course his advice is "blame the GOP". It's how he got an inexperienced junior senator elected President. Never mind that the Democrats have had the majority in the House and the Senate since 2006, and have been mostly responsible for the housing market failure (thank you Fannie, Freddie, Barney and Chris).

    July 29, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  19. Numbers29

    Democrats have held the House and Senate for some time, now they have held all 3 indluding the Presidency for 18 months. The best they can come up with is it's the Republican's fault. These miserable policies that they have instituted have gotten us further in debt and further in recession. They are using our money to try to keep themselves elected but they havn't a clue how to run a business or create a job. They are pathetic!

    July 29, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
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