White House senior adviser David Plouffe said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that Republican Mitt Romney is “disingenuously” hiding his positions from voters as polls show the U.S. presidential contest deadlocked in the campaign’s final days.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
JULIANNA GOLDMAN, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Hello. I’m Julianna Goldman, filling in for Al Hunt this week. We begin the show with White House senior adviser David Plouffe. David, thanks for the time.
DAVID PLOUFFE: Of course.
GOLDMAN: Ten days to go, and two new national tracking polls put Mitt Romney at 50 percent. Isn’t that danger zone for the president?
PLOUFFE: No. There’s national polls that are all over the place. I think there’s a poll coming out every hour that’ll tell you what you want to see. This race is going to come down to eight or nine states. We think the president’s in good position in those states. And we think that the last few weeks of this campaign, the president’s really laying out where he wants to take the country economically. We think there’s big distinctions for the middle class out there in terms of who they can trust.
And, you know, from a campaign standpoint, we just have to really work hard now to convince those few remaining undecideds in states like Ohio and Florida to choose the president and to get our vote out.
GOLDMAN: What would the ramifications be, though, for the president’s second term if he narrowly loses the popular vote and narrowly wins the Electoral College?
PLOUFFE: Well, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. We’ve always known this would be a close race. You know, we think if the election were held today, we’d win both the national popular vote and an Electoral College majority, so we’re just trying to make sure we execute well here in the close.
You know, the president was out for the past two days barnstorming the country, and I think there was a lot of energy out there, a lot of passion for what he wants to do in a second term. And that’s really where we’ve got to drive the next 10 days, is the choice between where these two men would take the country.
GOLDMAN: We talk about the nine states where this campaign is playing out. Ohio, Virginia, Colorado or Florida, which state are you in the best shape?
PLOUFFE: Oh, you know, it’s like choosing between your children, really. I can’t do that. I think that - it’s clear the Romney campaign understands that they’ve got big problems in Ohio. You know, we’ve had a clear and sustainable lead there for a long time. Governor Romney’s opposition to saving the American auto industry is one of the big problems there.
You know, Florida, he’s spending all day in Florida tomorrow. We feel very good about where we are in Florida, in terms of the early vote. Virginia’s going to be a very close race.
So, you know, there’s like a Rubik’s Cube of how you put together 270 electoral votes. From our perspective, the great thing is, all the states that we targeted, we still think we have a very plausible pathway to winning those states.
GOLDMAN: In a state like Ohio, could the president lose the vote on Election Day, but win early vote, and that could make the difference in Ohio?
PLOUFFE: Well, you know, there’s going to be some states where, you know, we think we’re going to win both early vote and - and Election Day vote. Others - you know, Florida is a state traditionally where the Republicans have done very well in absentees. We’ve narrowed that lead. So it depends on the state.
I mean, our view on early vote is, if someone was a certainty to vote on Election Day, and they vote early, that’s great to get the vote in the bank and they may be freed up to help on Election Day. But the real premium is for people who aren’t reliable voters, frequent voters, to get them to vote early is very important, and that’s where our focus is on.
And I think you’re seeing a lot of smoke and mirrors coming out of the Romney campaign about how well they’re doing in early vote. I think if you look at these states, Nevada, Florida, Ohio or Iowa, we feel that we’re on a trajectory in those states that’ll allow us to win.
GOLDMAN: I want to ask you about comments that former Governor John Sununu made this week. He suggested that General Colin Powell endorsed the president because of race. Do you think Mitt Romney is trying to inject race into the final days of this campaign?
PLOUFFE: Well, you know, John Sununu, you know, says things kind of in the Donald Trump category it seems like, from time to time. I think I’ll let General Powell speak for himself about why he endorsed the president. He said on both, you know, domestic and economic issues, as well as foreign policy issues, very strong things to say about the president and some criticisms about where Governor Romney would take the country. So I’ll let, you know, Colin Powell’s words speak for themselves.
GOLDMAN: Do you think it could drive a further wedge with white voters in these final days?
PLOUFFE: These comments?
PLOUFFE: Listen, I think - I think Colin Powell’s comments about why he’s endorsing the president probably are going to be impactful with all voters. And so, no, I think that’s more just kind of nuttiness from their side.
GOLDMAN: Well, after Romney for months had been saying that the president doesn’t have a plan for the next four years, he said that again in his speech this week, finally, the campaign this week released a 20-page glossy booklet outlining the president’s second-term agenda. Why did he wait so long to do that?
PLOUFFE: Well, we laid out in our convention speech with great detail where the president wants to take the country.
GOLDMAN: But vote - that didn’t necessarily trickle down to voters.
PLOUFFE: No, well, we thought his convention speech was very well received. You know, if you look at the president, all after the convention, talking about our plan to build manufacturing and American-made energy and training in our community colleges, hiring 100,000 math and science teachers, which could be one of the most important things we can do, reducing the deficit in the right way, every day he’s out there. So the booklet was just a way at the end to make sure we get in front of voters, this is exactly what the president’s going to do.
So, basically, you know, Romney was out there yesterday talking about big change. All it is, is a big relapse to the same economic policies that devastated the middle class and our economy, and that’s the choice in front of people, which is we are beginning to make progress. The question is, do we build on that progress or do we take an enormous risk and go back to the very same policies, in many cases on steroids, that Governor Romney’s offering that devastated the economy?
GOLDMAN: Well, one of the elements that’s adding uncertainty to the economy right now is the fiscal cliff, and the president has suggested that if Republicans insist on keeping high income taxes, that he’s going to hold the line, even if that means going over the fiscal cliff. And Republicans are saying, well, that’s a bluff, the president has caved before on fiscal and debt issues.
PLOUFFE: Well, these - obviously, these discussions will intensify after the election. So I don’t want to get ahead of them. But I do think that the president’s view is, we’ve - all the numbers have been run. You know, we know the choices in front of us. And if people here in Washington are willing to have two, I think, items - compromise, if you’re willing to compromise, and you’re willing to adopt a balanced approach, you know, cutting spending, as well as asking those at the top to do a little bit more, we can not only solve our fiscal challenges for a long period of time, but that will also help our economy grow.
And, you know, we think that, at the end of the day, these things are never easy, but, you know, the attention is quickly going to turn from the election to these fiscal challenges that are facing us, immediately probably, as soon as, you know, in another - another couple weeks.
GOLDMAN: Well, before - until then, the final days of the campaign, what is your central charge against Mitt Romney, is that he’s a rigid conservative ideologue or that he’s a serial flip-flopper? Because both can’t really be true.
PLOUFFE: Well, I think - I think our view is he’s trying to be dishonest about what he intends to do as president. So he’s not switching positions; he’s trying to hide them. But the core argument against him is, his economic ideas are the same ones that led to the recession. They will harm the middle class. They won’t help our economy grow. So if you’re - if you’re someone who’s concerned about economic growth, if you’re concerned about an economy that the middle class is front-and-center, then Mitt Romney is a disastrous choice.
Now, on social issues, it’s true. On women’s health care issues, you know, Mitt Romney said he would get rid of Planned Parenthood, appoint Supreme Court justices that would outlaw Roe v. Wade. These are big consequences. These are the things he’ll do as president.
So he’s kind of trying to have a masquerade ball here at the end, but we, I think, have done a good job of saying, this is what he’ll do.
GOLDMAN: But, David, last year you said he has no core. So now you’re saying he does?
PLOUFFE: Well, my point is that he is trying to disingenuously hide his positions. I think his core is known in terms of what he would do. Economic policy, return to the failed economic policies. Social policy really out of the 1950s. Cold War-era foreign policy mindset. So that’s what he’s going to do as president. He’s trying to hide it now, fudge it, which is a really remarkable thing this close to an election, like it’s - treat it like it’s a game. It’s not. This is an election for the presidency of the United States. And the American people need to understand, if Mitt Romney’s elected president, there’s consequences.
And so as we’re making that clear over the last 10 days, the other thing we’re going to do is make sure people understand what President Obama is going to do in a second term to help this economy grow.
GOLDMAN: David Plouffe, thank you so much for the time.
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