30
Jun
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The Playbook Interview: David Plouffe





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David Plouffe, one of the closest advisers to Barack Obama, told Playbook it’s “more likely Trump gets under 200 electoral votes than he gets 270,” predicting a massive, landslide loss for the Republican nominee.

“This is going to sound crazy but I think she’s like a 99 percent chance favorite to win,” said Plouffe, who is now an adviser to Uber but is in frequent contact with the Clinton campaign. “I don’t think that Trump wins any of the states that Romney lost … Clinton’s actually going to have a field-goal unit. Trump has no field-goal unit. Clinton could do [one to three points] better in some states, just based on running a more sophisticated and smart campaign.” Excerpts:

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What Trump needs to do tonight: “I think he has to find a way to kind of separate himself from Clinton, separate himself from some of the Republican orthodoxy that is not terribly popular, and have people you know look at him as, ‘OKI could see him as president.’ And it doesn’t mean he should turn into a vanilla automaton — he’s always going to be Trump, but that to me is the most important thing. And to really try and nail down what is this race about. It’s not about Donald Trump; the race is about American people and their concerns, and where they want to go, and so he needs to answer the mail in terms of why he’s the right man at this moment.”

Clinton might outperform Obama: “Hillary could outperform Obama in some states. I think [in] Florida she can do better than we did. Potentially New Hampshire, good state for her despite what happened in the primary. I think she could do better there … But of all the battleground states — Nevada, Colorado, Iowa (Michigan’s not, if you want to throw Wisconsin in there, fine, Nevada) Virginia, North Carolina, Florida — I don’t think Trump wins any of them.”

Why Melania’s speech won’t matter: “I don’t think there’s going to be a single voter [who] casts a vote based on that, but it’s a distraction and if they just announced yesterday that it was a mistake, then I think all the media would’ve moved on. So that’s — that’s the sin, is how they handled it.”

Hillary’s trustworthy numbers won’t go up. “I’d be surprised if she comes out of Philadelphia without some significant change in her fave/unfave, I think that will strengthen, I really do. I think it’ll be a really good week, the party will be unified, people will see her compared to Trump, and in very close proximity, for the first time, I think that will help her. But those trust numbers are probably not gonna get improved that much. Every candidate has strengths and weaknesses, so this time 8 years ago in July of 2008, John McCain had a 35-point lead for us on national security, OK? And on experience. You’re not gonna have positives on everything.”

Republicans missed 2016 opportunity: “This was a winnable race for the right Republican candidate. So I think that’s probably why people here in Cleveland, some of them are so downcast. Is they know this was a race that — well, certainly should’ve been very competitive, but it could’ve been winnable … But that’s what I think is tragic if you’re a Republican … you know, maybe you still would’ve lost, but it would’ve been close … you had a chance to win.”

Veepstakes: “The most over-covered story in politics, I think it’s the VP selection’s impact on the campaign. Because voters view it as the two people at the top of the ticket … This is a good audition for the White House, where, you know anything that comes into the Oval Office is tough and hard and complicated and you’ve got advisers and experts but at the end of the day, it’s fairly lonely decision-making that happens. I think that’s what this is. So this needs to not be a committee decision, it needs to be a decision by the principle. And I think it’s gotta be totally based on comfort level, trust, rapport, and a sense of who will help most if I win.”

Trump poses difficult debate prep. “I think preparing for Trump will be hard because you have to prepare for crazy Trump and statesmen-like Trump, and attacking Trump, and counter-punching Trump. So I do not envy their preparation … I think the only thing that would be comparable is the ’92, we had, you know, [third-party candidate Ross] Perot in the race and that made preparing for debates complicated. I think this is going to be super complicated.”

How Clinton can overcome online fundraising troubles: “I think next week will help a lot. I assume that’ll be their strongest fundraising period online by far. And you know, if the race is, even if it’s not really competitive but is seen as Trump could win, I think that will help. It took as awhile in ’12 — you know, our online money did not kick in really until about this time, June/July … The most important money she’s going to spend though, is on organization. So that’s the one thing you can’t short is the money in technology, data modeling, and just ground troops to turn out the vote.”

It’s all about the Benjamins: “They’ve gotta raise at least 750 [million].”