Subject: WH Travel Pool Report #6 — Gaggle
David Plouffe gaggled with reporters for about 15 minutes on the flight to Madison, continuing while the plane
landed and came to a stop.
Thanks to co-pooler Glenn Thrush of Politico.
Plouffe started by saying, “We’ve viewed this campaign as all of a piece.”
“Last night, the president talked to the American people about his jobs plans and why Mitt Romney’s plans would be devastating for the country.”
Obama also focused on issues like Medicare vouchers and outsourcing, which affect battleground states.
“The remarkable thing was that the centerpiece of his campaign, and of his economic strategy, he tried to pretend didn’t exist last night.”
Plouffe said that was evidence of Romney’s “dishonesty.”
“One of things we’re going to have to adjust to is that dishonesty,” he said.
“It’s hard to remember a time in American politics where you had someone who’s a major nominee for the presidency, being that fundamentally dishonest toward parts of his campaign platform.”
Plouffe said the campaign would continue to explain the fundamental differences in the race.
“We thought he did a very theatrically aggressive performance,” Plouffe said of Romney. “Is that going to change minds in places like Ohio, Nevada, and Virginia? We’ll have to see, but that’s the measure.”
“Is he going to take the lead in Ohio,” he continued. “If he doesn’t, he’s not going to be president.”
“Is he going to take the lead in Iowa?”
He says voters concerned about Romney’s voucher plan are “going to be doubly concerned because he doubled down on it.”
Asked if POTUS did not expect Romney to be so aggressive and did not rebut him enough, Plouffe said. “Romney was on defensive about his tax cut plan, on defensive about Medicare, on defensive about outsourcing tax breaks.”
“We expected an aggressive Mitt Romney. That’s who he is.”
Plouffe repeated his sense of amazement that Romney said he didn’t have $5 trillion tax cut.
Asked what happened to Obama, Plouffe said, “you guys treated this as theater, but we were serious about what we said, which is that one of Mitt Romney’s strengths is that he’s a good debater.”
Plouffe said Romney consistently wins his debate, which is not true of Obama.
“Romney’s performance was one that’s probably unprecedented in its dishonesty,” he said.
He says the campaign will drive home the message that Romney actually does intend to implement his policies.
Plouffe then repeated his assertion that Romney’s policies will be problematic in battleground states.
Speaking of his performance, Plouffe “We don’t think it fundamentally alters the race.”
Plouffe was asked if Obama had gone “soft” after his four year layoff from debating — and carefully managed media appearances. “I don’t think so,” he said. “over the course of his presidency he’s done innumerable interviews and press conferences and TV interviews… You Guys may disgree with me…(but) people are itching to write the Romney comeback story.”
Will Obama be tougher next time?
“We are obviously going to have to adjust for the fact of Mitt Romney’s dishonesty.”
Plouffe was asked if Obama’s failure to mention Bain Capital or the “47 percent” video was intentional.
He said sentiment about both are already “baked into the cake, but added, “Sure, there might have been a exchange where that came up.”
“He performed better than people expected… because recent history would suggest he might start off by insulting half the country…”
Obama felt “he did a good job,” Plouffe said because he projected “steadiness.”
Separately, print pooler asked Jay Carney if the WH had any reaction to the Turkish Parliament vote authorizing PM Erdogan to cross the border into Syria.
“We view Turkey as a close friend and ally, NATO ally. We continue to consult closely with the Turks about unacceptable aggression that we saw from Syria.” He referred questions about the vote itself to the Turkish government.
Carney said he no comment on a report that suspects in the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens had been detained in Turkey.