Axelrod: White House May Keep Census Role

Posted February 15, 2009 at 11:03am

Supervision over the 2010 Census, the results of which will be used to draw new House district lines for the 2012 elections, could remain in the hands of top White House officials, White House political adviser David Axelrod said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Oversight of the upcoming decennial census was moved by the Obama administration into the West Wing in part to satisfy Democrats and their allies who were unhappy with the president’s pick of a Republican to run the Commerce Department, which by law manages the Census Bureau.

Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) has since changed his mind and decided not accept the Commerce secretary post, but Axelrod indicated Sunday morning that authority over the census could still remain in the White House.

Republicans are crying foul, saying that such a move would politicize the census and possibly manipulate the results to aid the Democrats, particularly given that Axelrod was President Barack Obama’s chief campaign strategist in the 2008 presidential election and that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel previously served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“The census should be in the charge of the professionals who conduct it,” Axelrod said. “There are great professionals over there. We intend to bring in additional, impeccable people. The White House needs to ensure that the census is fair and accurate, and that’s what we’re going to do. But the way to do that is put professionals in those slots to run the census in the most advanced way they can.”

Asked whether he or Emanuel would play a role in overseeing the census, Axelrod said: “I am not an expert on the census, and neither is Rahm. We want the experts to run this program; we want to make sure that every American is counted.”