The Obama administration is entering a new, more aggressive phase in its campaign to sell the economic stimulus package. "The president understands that he's got to go out there and make his case," says White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Democratic strategists complain that the White House has been slow off the mark in organizing a sustained, all-hands-on-deck response to Republican critics of the legislation. Obama advisers say that's about to change. Members of the cabinet and other Obama loyalists, including Vice President Joe Biden, will be making speeches and giving media interviews to sell the plan. Supportive governors and mayors will campaign for the legislation.
President Obama plans to hold a news conference Monday night to push the plan. An address from the Oval Office is likely in the near future. The president will address a joint session of Congress February 24.
Obama and his senior advisers are privately courting individual legislators one by one. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will give an interview to T he NewsHour with Jim Lehrer today. And Obama backers are organizing a letter-writing and E-mail campaign across the country to pressure members of Congress to accept the legislation.
Even though some polls show public support for the package is slipping, White House officials remain optimistic. "I don't think we are losing the battle," Gibbs told U.S. News. He added that the most important objective is to "keep the process moving."
Disagreeing with some strategists of both parties, Gibbs says the White House doesn't need any catchy new slogans to combat its critics. "We don't need a bumper sticker," he says because Americans very clearly see the economic crisis "in their lives every single day."
Gibbs says there might be setbacks in the legislative process and in the public relations fight over the legislation, but he predicts that it will pass Congress and end up on the president's desk later this month.
- Read more about the economic stimulus.