(MCT) — WASHINGTON — With the election behind him, President Barack Obama enters negotiations over the looming fiscal deadlines with a mandate from voters, his top political strategist said Sunday.
David Axelrod, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said Obama articulated his position on taxes — including raising taxes on income of more than $250,000 — during the campaign and Americans seemed to agree.
“You look at those exit polls and a healthy majority of Americans agree with him,” Axelrod said. “And that’s certainly going to help inform these discussions.”
Both the president and congressional leaders quickly pivoted this week to the automatic tax increases and budget cuts set to kick in at the end of the year.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said on Friday that Republicans were willing to cooperate, but also reiterated his caucus’ opposition to higher taxes. Instead, he stressed that closing loopholes and entitlement reform were the Republicans’ priorities a tax deal.
Axelrod called Boehner’s statement “encouraging.” “The speaker also said he wasn’t going to get into details about what he would or wouldn’t accept. He didn’t want to foreclose discussions and that was a positive sign,” Axelrod said.
Looking back on election night, Axelrod said the data-centric campaign was confident early on that the president would emerge victorious.
“By 8:00 or 8:15 that evening we were pretty confident that this race was going to be ours and it was just a matter of time, and less time, frankly, than we anticipated,” Axelrod said.
And he called Obama’s Wednesday speech to campaign workers, in which the president briefly became overcome with emotion, as a “wonderful coda to a great campaign.”
“I was brushing tears away myself, Axelrod said. “As were many of those young people. So when he looked at those young kids and their sense of idealism and all the sacrifices they had made, not just for him but for the kind of country that they believe in — he really was overcome.”