Axelrod Promotes ‘Don’t Go Back’ Message Among Senate Democrats

Posted July 29, 2010 at 2:46pm

White House senior adviser David Axelrod sought Thursday to rally Senate Democrats around a message strategy of reminding voters of their distaste for Republican rule and the need to give the majority another chance.

With Democrats expected to lose seats in both chambers, particularly in the House, in midterm election this November, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said Axelrod’s presentation focused on a theme that the White House has been using for a couple of weeks.

“The answer is not to go back,” Bayh said of Axelrod’s presentation, which was given at a regularly scheduled lunch Thursday.

Axelrod told reporters that the White House wants “to coordinate closely with these Members. … And this election is important because we can’t afford to go back to the policies that were in place before, which is exactly what the other guys are promising.”

Axelrod said Senators are realistic about the “difficult political environment.”

“I think they’re focused,” he added. “They understand that we’ve got a battle. These are not easy times.”

Axelrod said Democrats are “not interested in re-litigating the past, but we don’t want to relive it either.”

“People need to know that when they cast that Republican vote, they’re casting a vote for the same discredited policies that punished the middle class and created this crisis in the first place,” he added.

Part of Axelrod’s presentation encouraged Democrats to highlight their accomplishments, and it suggested which ones would be received best by a disgruntled electorate.

“He spelled out the issues that have a particular impact on not only the Democratic base, but also independent voters,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said, but the Illinois Democrat declined to specify what those issues were.

Not all Democrats were convinced by Axelrod. “I want more of a battle book,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who is up for re-election this year. “Instead of a laundry list of accomplishments, I think we need to have a few basic things we’re going to say and a unified way of saying it.”

Bayh said another Member complained that the political environment is so negative that the best thing Democrats can do is go on the offensive and attack Republicans.