Three days ago, when the White House sent its top man to stump for Martha Coakley, Barack Obama told Massachusetts Democrats that electing “their” candidate was key to enacting his agenda.
Today, the administration flipped, saying the win by Coakley’s Republican opponent, Scott Brown, reinforces the administration’s mandate.
“The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office,” Obama said in an interview with George Stefanopoulos on ABC.
“There is a general sense of discontent about the economy and there is a general sense of discontent about this town,” White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod said. “That’s why we were elected.”
When asked about the administration’s response to Brown’s victory, Democratic strategist and Raben Group Principal Jamal Simmons noted Democrats’ achievements since the president entered office a year ago, pointing to, among other things the stimulus and green jobs.
“These are all strong things the public wants accomplished, and the Democrats should not run from it,” Simmons said.
This morning, Axelrod and Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs appeared on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” to explain that the people of Massachusetts were more upset about the economy than the president’s health-care bill.
“Senator Brown didn’t run one ad on health care in the entire campaign, and he supported the health-care reform similar to the one the president is committed to, in Massachusetts, and said during the campaign that he wouldn’t repeal it,” Axelrod said.
When asked if this vote was a wake-up call for the Democrats on health care, Gibbs answered that it was about voter dissatisfaction on jobs.
Here’s the full transcript.
“Part of it was a poor candidacy on the Democrat’s side, part of it was a broader anger at Washington and a populist reaction to bailing out fat cats while the rest of us suffer,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller. “Health care was a secondary issue, as an issue, but there was clearly hostility to it, not because of what’s in it because it’s very similar to the Massachusetts health care that the voters have and that Brown voted for, but because Washington is supporting it it can’t be trusted.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the upset victory: “We’re right on course. We will have a health-care reform bill, and it will be soon.”
The victorious Brown said on NBC’s Today show this morning that his victory was not a referendum on Obama, or any other single issue: “It’s bigger than that.”