The Cycle | November 20, 2012
>>> i felt that the work that i had done in running for office had come full circle . because what you guys have done means that the work that i'm doing is important. i'm really proud of that. i'm really proud of all of you.
>> that was an emotional president obama thanking his staff and volunteers after his win two weeks ago. you know what? he should be crying because that's how good his ground game was. in fact, it was so effective machine isn't going anywhere. according to the huffington post sam stein, the president plans on using it to apply pressure on the lame duck congress. so like the flying circuses of the '20s and baseball in the '40s, the president is going barnstorming, tank his message to the people. we're doing the same as we put this through the spin cycle. i guess my take on this would be this is -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it. i think there was a pretty abrupt and significant change in how obama approached governing that took place in the summer of 2011 . it was right after the debt ceiling ordeal when he had tried really hard to strike this grand bargain with john boehner and the republicans and it blew up in his face and it resulted in the lowest approval rating of obama 's presidency at that point. he never more like a one-term president than if august of 2011 . he decided he wouldn't be able to negotiate just inside washington with the republicans to get a deal. he had to go out and campaign on his ideas and win an election and get some kind of a mandate. i know we hate that term, but some kind of a mandate and specifically on the issue of raising taxes on income over $250,000. i think that is the single most important thing in terms of going forward that he got out of this election was that he could now say and he's been saying, hey, i went and i told the country this is exactly what i want to do on taxes. this is the difference between me and the republicans on taxes. he can say the country sides with me. pretty -- pretty strongly. i think he's basically going out there and trying to reinforce that message and he can take that -- he can take that to the people and he said i campaigned on it, i won out. this is the test. are republicans going to hear that message or not? my only question as we get closer to the general 1st deadline if some kind of a deal starts to take shape, the issue there isentitlements. if he starts to cut a deal there with the republicans that may be friendly to republican terms, i do wonder if he can sell that to the base. that's a departure from his strategy of a last year and half. but the basic idea of going out there and campaigning on this right here, i don't see why he'd stop right now.
>> you know, you can't argue his ground game was really good, steve . i think that what he and jim mussina want to do is make sure it stays intact for next democratic election, whether in two or four years. maybe you could possibly read into this that he's not as confident that he has the kind of leverage he needs with the gop and he has to go out and sell this some more. i also think that last point that you made, steve , was right. that he is going to be facing a lot of pressure if he's not already from liberal activist groups. folks like trumka and labor groups who don't want him to cave on the entitlements and benefits when he's talking to the gop . if he gets to them first and says, don't pressure me, let's both pressure the gop together, it's almost kind of circumventing that scenario and saying, let's work together toward a common enemy. it's not me, you don't have to pressure me. pressure the gop .
>> yeah. s.e., i read the tea leaves entirely different.
>> that never happens.
>> and the battle is won or lost by determining on what playing field the battle will be fought. if obama makes this a national fight rather than leaves it in washington, he has more leverage. this is him using --
>> i thought he had all the leverage he needed.
>> he had all the leverage he needed and will make it even more so.
>> using the bully pulpit and his charisma and his popularity and the popularity on taxing the wealthy even more. and getting out there and bringing the nation into this discussion with him. you know, look, he has the leverage. his biggest regret he said in the campaign, but he was right, not messaging properly what he wanted to do. this is what he's talking about. now he'll start to do it. look, the only way he'll lose this is to make it a d.c. fight and get in the d.c. muck. while he makes it nationwide and uses his charisma, uses his leverage in the bully pulpit he can't lose.
>> going back to what steve was saying, those of us behind the president, progressives, when he went to kansas and started to take the message to the people we said hallelujah. finally this what he should have been doing from the beginning. it has been effective. he does have a lot of leverage here, but it never hurts to have the people behind you as well. in 2008 , they originally tried to morph obama for america into organizing for america. and it never really worked well. people really never got engaged in it. to me it's very encouraging and a it reminds me of my favorite quote ever from the much maligned community organizer saul alinsky who says action comes from keeping the heat on. no politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough. i think we have seen examples this year. early in 2012 this wasn't a policy issue, but komen for the cure had decided to end their long-standing relationship with planned parenthood . people were upset about it and komen had to change that position. from virginia, bob mcdonnell controlled the house delegates there and they could pass any legislation that they wanted. they introduced this bill to mandate transvaginal probes for women seeking an abortion. people got upset and even though the republicans held the political power they had to go back on that and the personhood bill. because ultimately the most powerful force in our democracy still today is the power of the people and that is an amazing thing.
>> yeah. i think the strategy here is very much about just keeping the pressure on. it's already there. it makes sense to me. before we go, i want to take sort of a point of personal privilege here. you might be wondering why am i in hartford, connecticut , today, it's not only because of the whalers. my grandmother passed away. lived in water bury, connecticut . the story is a story of america for the last century. it was a factory town. sort of the brass capital of the united states . it's where the working class and middle class was built in the middle of the 20th century . water bury is a story that the united states i think, and i think my grandmother's life is the story of water bury. she was born into a family that didn't even speak english. her mother during prohibition might have been involved in a little bootlegging. and my grandmother willed her way into nursing school and through nursing school . she raised five kids. she was a nurse for 30 years and in the city of water bury she unionized her hospital at a time when, you know, that was brand new. the first hospital in connecticut that was unionized. my grandmother did that. she just had an extraordinary life. my favorite story also was a couple of years ago she even -- a big football fan. she put a bet on the super bowl when she was 90 years old. i love my grandmother. i'm going to miss her. and stella, a good life. that's that. i'll be back in new york tomorrow. lots more ahead on "the cycle" this tuesday. stay with