Politics
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama listens as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the Inaugural Reception at the National Building Museum on January 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Election Day 06 November 2012 to be re-elected for a second term. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama listens as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks at the Inaugural Reception at the National Building Museum on January 20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Election Day 06 November 2012 to be re-elected for a second term. (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)  

Top aide: Obama seeks to split Republican Party into warring factions before 2014 midterm election

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

“Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party,” declared the headline of a Jan. 18 article penned by Dickerson.

“The president can stir up these [needed] fights by poking the fear among Republicans that the party is becoming defined by its most extreme elements, which will in turn provoke fear among the most faithful conservatives that weak-willed conservatives are bending to the popular mood,” wrote Dickerson, who shapes CBS’ coverage of politics.

In November, CBS’s evening news show attracted 4.3 percent of viewers, down from 16.7 percent in 1980.

Plouffe detailed Democrats’ confrontation strategy in his CNN interview with Crowley. The president will try to split the GOP between legislators who recognize a “consensus” on taxes, guns and immigration, and those who are “out of the mainstream,” Plouffe claimed.

On fiscal issues, Plouffe suggested Obama would continue his 2012 strategy of demanding the passage of measures — such as tax increases — that appear to attract support in some polls, regardless of the GOP’s judgment that taxes will slow economic growth.

That strategy had failed in 2012 until the so-called “fiscal cliff” was about to raise income and payroll taxes on middle-class Americans.

Obama wants to use it again in pending budget talks about automatic cuts, a budget law and a renewal of the debt-ceiling, where he will push for more taxes and more spending.

“We are going to seek common ground with Republicans in Congress … around balanced deficit reduction, measures to grow the economy and help the middle class,” Plouffe claimed.

Plouffe also claimed a public consensus for Obama’s gun-related agenda.

“I think there are 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House, if votes will come up, for some of these gun safety measures, like clips, like universal background checks. … There is a consensus in America on this and I think we can get there here on Capitol Hill,” he claimed.

In his interview, Plouffe did not mention a ban on “assault weapons,” but instead talked about “gun safety.”

His new focus on “gun safety” will help vulnerable Senate Democrats avoid a wave of opposition from gun owners in 2014.

It will also help shift the media’s focus to safety measures desired by swing-voting suburban mothers who were horrified by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on Dec. 14.