Former Obama Campaign Manager Discusses Biden’s Comeback

Joe Biden stormed through Super Tuesday with an impressive comeback, but he still has to fend off a formidable opponent in Bernie Sanders if he wants to win the nomination. Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe joins the program to discuss the Super Tuesday results and the future of the Biden campaign.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, let’s talk about it then. A, the battle for the soul of the party and the basic raw electability.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Right. I don’t know if I would go so far to say battle for the soul of the party. But I think the clips you said defined it. I mean, Biden and some of the more centrist candidates, left-center candidates in the race have said the most important thing is to beat Trump. And then I think Sanders and his campaign have been very clear, actually, it’s not enough. We need to both beat Trump and bring about a revolution. I think what you’re seeing is a majority of voters in the Democratic Party who want to make sure we beat Trump, even some, by the way, who might think we want a revolution, the thing we have to do is beat Trump. And so, I think that’s how things are sorting out. And I think that Biden now has — what’s amazing about this, Christiane, is he won yesterday in really dominating fashion solely on the wings of momentum. He didn’t have much money. He didn’t have much organization in these states. He used his big win in South Carolina, the endorsements of some of his former rivals. And I think this is important in America and really all around the globe in democracies. It’s always easier to get back vote and support you had that you’ve temporarily lost. So, Biden was getting — as you know, he was the big national front-runner for the better part of this race until just a few weeks ago. He started underperforming and some of the people who thought Biden was the most electable and the strongest candidate either moved to undecided or some of them moved to like soft Bloomberg support. Biden has a few good days, they come back. I think that’s super important to understand it’s not like the support materialized out of nowhere for Biden. It’s kind of what people wanted to do in the first place, but they weren’t sure. He wasn’t debating well. He did poorly in the first two states. And like, well, maybe not. And then he kind of pulled it together. And I think the question is can he keep it pulled together, you know, over the coming weeks.

AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, you just asked a question everyone wants to know now, at least his supporters, can he stay out of his way enough to keep up this momentum?

PLOUFFE: Well, he needs to be Joe Biden. I think authenticity is important. Like I don’t think it’s going to pay a big price for gaffes or, you know, kind of messing up words. But, you know, he didn’t perform super well in debates and even interviews. You know, I know joe Biden. I’ve helped him prepare for debates. I believe that he is going to perform well because he sees the finish line and he really wants to face off against Trump. But also, I think he’s going to feel a sense of deep responsibility, both our voters and a lot of elected officials are throwing all of their chips Joe Biden’s way and he is not going to want to let them down. So, hopefully, he doesn’t play too tight. But I think — you see even last night. I mean, you know, maybe not quite as sterling as South Carolina, but a very good speech, consistent. And that’s what we have to see. Short speeches, crisp speeches. And then the big challenge for him on march 15th is the next debate. And it could end up being a one-on-one debate with Bernie Sanders. And Bernie Sanders has been a super strong performer and a very strong debater. So, that’s going to really test Joe Biden.

About This Episode EXPAND

Former Obama campaign manger David Plouffe breaks down yesterday’s Super Tuesday results. Infectious disease expert Dr. W. Ian Lipkin tells Walter Isaacson how people can protect themselves from coronavirus. David Simon tells Christiane about his new HBO series “The Plot Against America,” based on the Philip Roth novel by the same name.