David Plouffe, who led Barack Obama's winning campaign for the White House, will play a larger role in advising the president as reeling Democrats try to rally in this important election year.
Plouffe's primary job on behalf of the White House will be to devise, coordinate and analyze strategies for the House, Senate and governor's races in November, according to an administration official.
As one of Obama's most trusted advisers, Plouffe clearly will have a larger imprint, operating through the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America, Obama's political organization.
The timing is significant because Democrats, just one year after Obama came into office, are the ones on the defensive now.
The upset victory by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts in claiming the seat long held by Democrat Edward Kennedy embodied a national sense of frustration in the economy and Washington's ability to fix it. Obama has bemoaned a public sense of detachment from what he's been trying to accomplish, and now Senate Democrats have lost the 60-vote bloc they need to overcome Republican opposition to Obama's health care plan.
So re-emerging is Plouffe. The administration official said Plouffe always was going to play a larger role at some point after finishing his campaign book, but a change in the political environment accelerated the timetable.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal decision-making, said no one at the White House was in line to be demoted because of Plouffe's arrival.
Obama asked Plouffe to get more involved. Even before the polls closed in the special election to succeed Kennedy, who died in August, the president called Plouffe to the White House to talk.
The next day, Plouffe said that Brown's victory was not a repudiation of Obama's agenda, as Republican leaders suggested. He expressed some outspoken frustration, though, about the effort by Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, saying "even a mediocre campaign in Massachusetts probably would have won."
Plouffe (pronounced pluhf) has remained in regular touch with Obama and White House staff, and been an advocate for Obama's health care plans.
On the night Obama won election, the candidate hailed Plouffe as an unsung hero and promoted him as the leader of nothing less than the best campaign in U.S. history.
Most governor's seats, more than one-third of the Senate, all 435 House districts and state legislatures will be on the general election ballot this year. Democrats must protect far more seats than Republicans, and the political environment is not in their favor. The outcomes could significantly affect Obama's agenda.
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