Obama Staying True to His Values, Departing David Axelrod Says

 From Politics Daily:
…Obama is readying his re-election bid at a time when unemployment has been above 9 percent for more than 20 months and when his team is preparing to focus more and more on job creation and growth. As part of Obama’s plan for “winning the future” — a theme unveiled in last week’s State of the Union address — the administration will launch on Monday “Startup America,” programs to help entrepreneurs.

Looking at 2012, “the economy, I think, is always a leading indicator and if people feel that things are getting better, that will be important for us,” Axelrod said. “If they don’t, that creates a challenge.”

But solving the unemployment problem will also be a Republican challenge. “Elections are not referendums, they are contests and there will be someone on the other side of that race and presumably they will have their own economic vision,” Axelrod said. “And we will have competing ideas. There is no doubt that the economy will be a central issue in the campaign and to the extent things are getting better, our job is going to be easier.”

Enthusiastic youth voters — many engaged in politics for the first time — helped fuel Obama’s 2008 presidential bid. How will Obama win the votes of young voters who may face tough employment prospects?

“We need to communicate vigorously with them,” Axelrod said. “…there are obvious things that we have done that are meaningful to younger people that go to their particular interests. I think younger people more readily than anybody should appreciate what the president — and will appreciate what the president — was saying the other night, about how you build the future and what we need to do to secure the kind of future that they are going to live in. I think we have a strong case to make. But we just have to make it.”

In the wake of the GOP winning control of the House and the coming campaign the question has been raised of whether Obama is retooling as House Republicans — and 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls — are poised to attack Obama’s agenda.

“It is the habit of this town to kind of look on the back, sit at the back of the truck and gape and look at what happened before and sort of apply the same test to what is happening now,” Axelrod said.

“And so, well, [former President] Clinton repositioned himself and, you know, [Obama] must be repositioning himself. I think what we’ve done is we’ve returned to first principles. So much of what he’s done is a reflection of things that he said for a long time.

“If we were guilty of anything the first two years, it was we were getting so in the weeds of governance that we did not articulate consistently our principles, our values and our vision. But the principles, values and vision that he is projecting now are completely consistent,” Axelrod said, referring to Obama speeches at the Democratic National Convention in Boston and to a college in central Illinois, “with the guy who stood, who spoke to the convention in 2004, who spoke at the Knox College commencement in 2005…”