Asked to grade President Obama on working with Republicans, Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, the most moderate Republican in the Senate, told ABC News in March that it would be “close to failing on that point.” Snowe, who had announced her plans to leave the Senate in part out of frustration over congressional gridlock, said she hadn’t had a face-to-face meeting with Obama in nearly two years.
Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, argues that Obama has discovered his own way to advance his agenda: For months, he’s elected to take his case directly to the public, traveling to swing states and urging crowds at campaign-style events to call, email, fax or tweet their members of Congress.
“He’s learned that in this political environment, the way to move things through an entirely implacable Congress is to engage the American people in that discussion,” said Axelrod, who maintains that Republican lawmakers wouldn’t have agreed to extend the payroll tax last winter if Obama hadn’t traveled to swing states and made his case.
“If you confine the discussion to the inner sanctums of Washington, the result is much less likely to be positive,” Axelrod said.
He says Obama’s consistency has been critical as he’s made tough calls – including doubling the number of troops in Afghanistan – a decision that at the time was deeply unpopular with many Democratic supporters who wanted a drawdown.
“Whether the day is going well or going badly, he’s focused,” Axelrod said. “Given the times we’ve gone through, two wars and a once-in-a-century economic and financial crisis, that quality of solidity and unflappability is incredibly important.”