DAVID AXELROD: On the overall, Nicole, I have to tell you I was in the White House when the president made the decision to go forward. There was no illusion about the fact that it was going to be very, very difficult politically, that the more expedient path would be to pass by health reform and not take it on because seven presidents had tried. Seven had had failed. 65 years of history.
We knew that it was going to be very hard, and his view was, look, the system’s imploding, the inflation and health care cost is going on unabated. It’s ultimately going to collapse, not just the government but families and businesses. And if we don’t do something about it, we’re — we are negligent as leaders. And so yes, we knew the optics were not going to be good along the way that, there were going to be political burdens. Yet he took it on anyway and I’m proud of him for doing it.
One other point I would make is, and we’re all guilty of this, we tend to judge these things along the way. Every day in Washington’s election day. We tend to judge these things on the basis of what’s happening at that moment. His view is that we ought to plow forward, make this work, and we’re going to look back at it and it’s going to be our proudest accomplishment. But it’s going to take time. If you’re worried about optics at any given moment, then you’re not going to accomplish very much in public office.