President Obama to Axelrod: Last Night's Victory Meant More to Me Than Winning the Election

"I don't think I've seen the president as happy as he was last night about anything that we've done over the years, including the election," White House senior adviser David Axelrod told ABC News Monday afternoon, speaking of the House passing health care reform legislation.

Really? More than election night?

Yes, said Axelrod. The president told him this morning, “You win the election, it’s like the quarter finals -- but the goal is to get to the place where you can actually make a difference. And last night we did something that is going to make a positive difference for this country and for the American people for generations to come.:

Last night the president toasted his staff on the Truman Balcony.

“He was ebullient when…when we had this reception on the Truman balcony last night and very generous to his staff that worked so hard to make it happen,” Axelrod said. “He said, ‘You know, I’m just your spokesperson, you’re the guys who did the work.’”

Axelrod of course took issue with that. “We all know he’s the one that put this on his back. And carried it and I think the one thing the American people saw I’ve seen as long as I’ve known him, is a real persistence, commitment, character that – and it only is because of that that we got here. This thing could have died a thousand deaths but for the determination of Barack Obama to solve a problem that has bedeviled this country for a hundred years.”

But White House officials know they still have some selling to do when it comes to the controversial legislation, about which the public seems evenly divided.

“It will be law tomorrow and we will go out,” Axelrod said. “We’re going to go back to Iowa City where he began this campaign for health reform several years ago. Because in many ways this is a victory for the people at the grassroots who shared their stories who campaigned for this and who I think made that vote possible yesterday.”

It’s still a fairly controversial bit of legislation, ABC News pointed out to Axelrod.

“Well I think anytime you do something of magnitude it is controversial,” Axelrod said. “Social Security was controversial, Medicare was controversial.”

But those passed with bipartisan support, ABC News said.

“Well those were different times too,” Axelrod replied. “We understand that we were governing at a different time. And from the very beginning unfortunately the leadership in Congress has taken the position that we’re going to oppose us at most turns hoping that somehow if this president fails, that their party would succeed. I think that’s an unfortunate position to take.”

Axelrod added that he was “disappointed to see Senator (John) McCain say this morning that there would be no cooperation from the Republicans in the Senate for the rest of the year because they were upset at the outcome on health care.”

The President’s senior adviser said, “You know, that’s okay on the sandlot but that’s not really okay when you’re trying to govern a country and move a country forward. It’s a disappointing attitude.”


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