Political strategist and chief campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign David Plouffe spoke at the Elliott School Tuesday night, discussing how the Democrats could lose in Massachusetts, health care reform, and his new book, “The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory.”
Huffington Post White House Correspondent Sam Stein moderated the question-and-answer discussion – hosted by the Graduate School of Political Management and the Progressive Book Club – during which Plouffe, Obama’s adviser, took questions from both the in-house and online audience.
Stein set the tone for the evening by asking Plouffe how a Democrat could lose a Senate seat in Massachusetts.
“Every race is different,” Plouffe said. “And Scott Brown ran a good campaign.”
The Washington Post reported early Wednesday that Republican Scott Brown won the late Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts with 51.9 percent of the vote over Democrat Martha Coakley’s 47.1 percent. Coakley was favored to win the seat up until a month ago when Brown launched an aggressive campaign against her.
Despite Democrats losing their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate – which may force the Democrats to scramble to pass a health care bill before the election results are certified, or face not having a bill before Brown takes office – Plouffe said the Republicans will not win back their majority in Congress.
“Republicans won’t win back the House [and] Senate,” he said. “They don’t deserve it.”
When asked about high-profile Republican and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s new role as a Fox contributor he said, “as a Democrat, let’s just say I’m happy to have her out there.”
While discussing controversial topics like health care reform, Plouffe told students that their votes matter.
“If we can deliver on health care reform we can say ‘your vote matters,’ ” he said. “We have to pass health care reform. I wish Republicans would participate but they’re not, so we have to lead.”
Plouffe told the audience he wanted to see 100 percent of their votes counted in the next presidential election, saying that the era of super delegates was over.
“Their vote shouldn’t have the same weight,” Plouffe said of super delegates’ votes. He said that at one time the presence of super delegates at the Democratic National Convention was justifiable, but that time has passed.
While Plouffe was hesitant to comment on the current policies of the Obama administration, as he is not a member, he was adamant about the need for health care reform.
“We have to pass health care,” he said. “If we pass health care we can say, ‘Look what we did, we brought change.’ “
Plouffe – who studied political science at the University of Delaware but did not finish his degree – thanked students who took the semester off to volunteer for Obama, but insisted that students return to finish school.
“Kids look at Karl Rove and I and say, ‘You didn’t finish school,’ ” Plouffe said. “But today things are different now; technology makes things a lot easier. In fact, I hope to finish my degree this spring through online correspondence,” Plouffe said.
“I worked for Obama in North Carolina,” freshman Hannah Grigg said. “I have his book and I just wanted to come and say I love David Plouffe, he’s a hero of mine.”
This is not Plouffe’s first time at GW; he spoke to the College Democrats in September, discussing Obama’s campaign strategies.