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Plouffe to the Senate?



Obama campaign manager David Plouffe speaks to the media in the spin room after the vice presidential debate at the Field House of Washington University's Athletic Complex on October 2, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It's not every day that the next president of the United States singles you out for praise during his victory speech.

But, that's exactly what happened to David Plouffe, the quiet and unassuming political operative who steered Barack Obama to the Democratic nomination and, ultimately, the presidency.

After praising Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Obama quickly turned to laud Plouffe, who he called "the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America."

The mention of Plouffe sent a roar through the crowd at Grant Park in Chicago -- a sign that he has achieved folk hero status among Obama's supporters in a manner not dissimilar to the way in which Joe Trippi, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's campaign manager, is viewed by many in the netroots.

Plouffe's prominence begs the question: What's next?

And, over the last few days, the political chattering class has been abuzz with the idea that Plouffe could well be in the mix to replace Biden in the Senate.

Biden will have to resign his seat before or on Jan. 20, 2009 when he is sworn in as the next vice president of the United States. That vacancy will be filled by an appointment -- either by current Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) or incoming Gov. Jack Markell (D). The obvious choice to fill Biden's shoes -- his son Beau who is Delaware's attorney general -- may not be practicable as Beau is set to leave shortly for Iraq (he is in the Delaware National Guard) and is not expected back for a year.

Into the void left by Beau Biden then, some political operatives are pushing Plouffe, a Delaware native who graduated from St. Mark's High School and attended the University of Delaware during the late 1980s.

Reached by email yesterday, Plouffe dismissed the talk of a move from staffer to politician -- insisting he has not had a "single conversation" about the idea with anyone.

What will he do post-election then?

Plouffe said he has "no set plans yet" but that he will not be going into the White House -- choosing rather to help the president-elect from the outside in "any way I can."

In the near term, Plouffe will have his hands full as his wife -- former California Gov. Gray Davis adviser Olivia Morgan -- gave birth to a baby girl yesterday, the couple's second child.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 7, 2008; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

After this historic election last week, all of the talk of Biden's Senate replacement misses one important point: Minner, who broke the glass ceiling as the first female governor in Delaware history, is in a unique position to break another glass ceiling by appointing a woman to serve Delaware in the Senate for the first time in the state's history.

To be sure, talk has been made of Secretary of State Harriet Smith Windsor being appointed as a placeholder for Beau Biden. But to make history by appointing a woman to the Senate, only to have that woman pushed aside in two years would be no progress for the advancement of women. Minner realizes this.

Minner will (and, indeed, should) appoint a woman who can hold her own in an election two years later – either against a primary challenge from Beau Biden, or a Republican in the general. With no female statewide elected officials, one person to keep an eye on is Cari DeSantis. After seven years at the helm of the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Families, Secretary DeSantis was widely recognized as one of the Governor’s most effective Cabinet members. DeSantis left the Cabinet in July to work for a foundation promoting the cause of foster children, but has been maintaining her presence in the state. During the 2000 gubernatorial campaign, DeSantis co-chaired the Women for Minner committee that was integral in raising money for Minner and helping her win the election. Minner could very well return the favor by appointing DeSantis to the Senate, while also ensuring that Delaware is represented by an effective, competent and committed woman – and not just for two years.

Posted by: corytull | November 11, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Plouffe is a modest, unassuming genius. I was in the campaign and saw his work day to day. Delaware would be lucky to have him as a Senator. America is lucky to have him, period.

Posted by: okmichael | November 9, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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Indications are that Huckabee may be getting ready to announce that he plans to run in 2012, according to HuckabeeShow.com http://www.huckabeeshow.com
They have a article there about Huckabees 2012 Campaign Website. Hopefully the GOP will wise up and get behind the only GOP contender that appeals to the working class. Huckabee is awesome. Came from Working Class Roots did a great Job in Arkensaw. I myself an independant couldnt see voting for any other GOP contender. Besides after watching the video Huckabee Hearts Obama on Youtube. Why would I want to vote anyother way.!!!
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Posted by: pastor123 | November 9, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cillizza, you write for a living. It is your profession and craft. Please learn how to use the English language correctly. To "beg the question" means to avoid answering it, not to ask the next one. More correctly, you should have said "Plouffe's prominence requires (or prompts, encourages, raises, etc.) the question: "What next".

Posted by: JCharles1 | November 9, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Just read the post below this one. You know the one. The one that was so important that it was posted twice.

Spun so hard the head is barely attached to the body.

Posted by: gjcomm | November 9, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

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During the campaign everyone said that if we elected a black person to be President all the world's problems would be solved - all the nations of the world would have peace because we did that - the Middle East would have peace because we did that - and everything would be great.

What happened?


Why didn't all the wars end immediately?

Why isn't the economy back?


Why isn't everyone singing Kum-ba-ya ???

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Posted by: 37thOSt | November 8, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

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During the campaign everyone said that if we elected a black person to be President all the world's problems would be solved - all the nations of the world would have peace because we did that - the Middle East would have peace because we did that - and everything would be great.

What happened?


Why didn't all the wars end immediately?

Why isn't the economy back?


Why isn't everyone singing Kum-ba-ya ???

.


.


.


.

Posted by: 37thOSt | November 8, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Political nepotism makes me barf - I don't care that he's a Democrat. It's still disgusting.

Posted by: ohio4580 | November 8, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Beau Biden is an elected official in Delaware, and has therefore crossed a threshold to office as a potential appointee. I'm wondering, though, why not the out-going Governor Minner herself as an option? It's not as though there's a superfluity of female Senators, from Delaware or elsewhere.

I'm definitely on board with the idea of Plouffe for the next DNC Chair. I'm not pushing to get rid of Dean, and I think Plouffe has earned his paternity leave, but there could be no better candidate to run the show for 2010.

Posted by: libelian | November 7, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Citizenship makes a person eligible to be a senator. I would say any citizen with a working knowledge of the federal government and world politics is a potential Congressman, Senator or President. That was the idea behind the formation of this democratic republic.

Posted by: majorteddy | November 7, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"so what qualifies someone to be a Senator? It seems to me that garnering the support of the people is the first qualification."

Wouldn't an appointment to the post belie that argument?

Posted by: DDAWD | November 7, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: harrissjr | November 7, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I very much like the idea of Beau Biden taking his dad's Senate seat because I think the voters of Deleware would likely approve and that should be the foremost consideration. Biden and his family are beloved in Deleware and his son has shown he is respected by the voters by being elected AG. Obama is going to begin winding down our presense in Iraq. It is not essential for Beau to go to Iraq. He can continue to serve in the Reseves as a Senator state side.

Posted by: xargaw | November 7, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think Obama should make Howard Dean the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and make Plouffe the Chair of the DNC. Let him use that elections expertise at the DNC for the entire party.

Posted by: chredon


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I second that motion.


www.change.gov

Posted by: wpost4112 | November 7, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"Biden's son to replace him? What is he, the earl of wilmington with a hereditary title?"

That's a reasonable question. Beau is the Attorney General for the state of Delaware. So, sure, there's more than a hint of nepotism / hereditary entitlement there - but its not like he's being plucked out of the country club to replace daddy.

Posted by: bsimon1 | November 7, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Bobby: The support of the people does not qualify someone to be a Senator. It allows them to be a Senator. There's a difference. And when we're talking about an appointed Senator, support of the people isn't an issue at all.

I'd say that anyone who's held any significant elected position (Congressman, mayor, state legislator, county commissioner, etc.) is qualified to be Senator. As is anyone who held a government position of sufficient responsibility, such as an attorney general or treasurer. Other qualifications could include work with an organization that's heavily involved in the sort of issues a Senator deals with, or anything else that shows the person has policy experience.

Plouffe doesn't have policy experience. That wasn't his job. He didn't come up with Obama's policies; he organized and ran the campaign. There have got to be dozens of people in Delaware more qualified to be Senator than Plouffe, people with real government and policy experience.

Posted by: Blarg | November 7, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Somebody who has been juggling the ultimate high-pressure job during the entire course of his wife's pregnancy has a full-time job right now: Dad.

I'm sure David Plouffe will reemerge in due course but this seems like the perfect moment for 6 to 12 months of self-paid paternity leave! After that, how about writing a book?

As for his folk hero status, count me in. His campaign briefing videos, sent by e-mail to us supporters and also appearing on Youtube, definitely forged a bond.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | November 7, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Biden's son to replace him? What is he, the earl of wilmington with a hereditary title? Fortunately we have avoided the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton deja vu. Of course, George P. Bush will get his war-veteran ticket punched in the Green Zone. Then he'll be running for something in Florida while he prepares for a future national race. Imagine if he could reverse the distribution of this year's Latino vote.

Posted by: webfreddes | November 7, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I think Obama should make Howard Dean the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and make Plouffe the Chair of the DNC. Let him use that elections expertise at the DNC for the entire party.

Posted by: chredon | November 7, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"Plouffe's prominence begs the question: What's next?"

No, it doesn't beg the question. It suggests the question, it makes us ask the question, and it may even beg us to ask the question.

But it doesn't "beg the question." That's a term of logic that means the question answers itself and is thus not helpful to the argument being made.

Posted by: nrudy | November 7, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

If Howard Dean Moves on, why woldn't he be perfect for the DNC?

Posted by: dfstever | November 7, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like the best idea. We've had enough cronyism during the past 8 years. I'm hoping the Dems stick to looking for the best and brightest in their fields....

----------------------------------------

I'd certainly agree that picking the "best and brightest" is what we should do. However, doesn't running one of the best presidential campaigns ever qualify him as one of the best and brightest around?

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I would agree with you that he ran one of the best presidential campaigns in history. Anyone that can turn IN, VA and NC blue after years of these states going red has my admiration. I guess I would hope the Dems would use him to continue building this winning coalition and strategy to ensure Dems keep getting re-elected across the US for some time to come...

Posted by: RickJ | November 7, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Beau: I am against nepotism but since it's someone in the family I think that's fine.

Posted by: Seamus2 | November 7, 2008 10:54 AM

Hmmm ... could it be that you've not read the definition of nepotism? I invite you to do that now:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nepotism

Family connections are SPECIFICALLY what is meant by nepotism, folks. Friends and political contacts fall under the definition of PATRONAGE:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/patronage

Posted by: Krunj | November 7, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I think Plouffe is the best choice I've heard thus far if he wants the position. I didn't realize he was from Delaware. Beau Biden is the most obvious choice. But, hasn't he already left for Iraq? I think I remember VP-elect Joe seeing him off at a rally a number of weeks ago.
Rep. Castle appears to be the only person who can win that seat for his party. So either of the governors has to make sure it's a person who can beat him. Bad timing though with Beau. He could have followed in his father's footsteps and filled that seat for as long as he wished.

Posted by: jdunph1 | November 7, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Surely you don't mean "begs the question".

Posted by: ffoulks | November 7, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Beau: I am against nepotism but since it's someone in the family I think that's fine.

Posted by: Seamus2 | November 7, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

To David Plouffe:

It was nice of the Washington Post to put a picture of you up. Like millions of other Americans, I received hundreds of e-mails under your name during the course of the campaign; it's nice to see who [purportedly] was sending them.

Congratulations on a brilliant campaign! Best of luck in the future, what ever you choose to do, and - most importantly - congratulations on your new baby!

Maybe you can manage her campaign when she runs for President some day . . . we now know, in large part because of you, anything really IS possible!

Posted by: pfallsgirl | November 7, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like the best idea. We've had enough cronyism during the past 8 years. I'm hoping the Dems stick to looking for the best and brightest in their fields....

----------------------------------------

I'd certainly agree that picking the "best and brightest" is what we should do. However, doesn't running one of the best presidential campaigns ever qualify him as one of the best and brightest around?

Posted by: DavidSeibert | November 7, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I think this is an awful idea, and hope it originated with political reporters searching for a story, and not from the Obama people. Imagine if McCain had won and attempted to install Rick Davis into his old Senate seat. We on the left would be rightly outraged by this display of cronyism that has defined the Bush years. Not the sort of change we've been promised.

Posted by: Zuckerfrosch | November 7, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Beau was clearly the front runner to replace his dad's seat. It happens all the time -- the seat of the person leaving during his or her term is given to a politically viable wife or child (it's tradition). Beau Biden is certainly viable, and probably would have run (and won) whenever his dad stepped down.

As for Plouffe, I'm not sure what he did before Obama's campaign, but I think 2.5 years in the trenches for Obama certainly gives him some street cred. And as for the "campaigns don't qualify you" crowd of the Fix blog chattering class, we elect plenty of people to various positions in government without much of a resume. I would say, though, that Plouffe's campaign knowledge and experience puts him ahead of the curve.

Posted by: MShake | November 7, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

"Ridiculous. Running a campaign does not qualify you to be a Senator. I think that Plouffe, Biden, and Obama all realize that"

so what qualifies someone to be a Senator? It seems to me that garnering the support of the people is the first qualification.

To succeed in the Senate you must be a good organizer. I think he gets an A+ for organization.

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: bobbywc | November 7, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Contrary to some comments here, I think the choice of David Plouffe is a good idea.

He's a Delaware native (and how many of them are around?), and there are indeed many qualities necessary for a good Senator that can be found in someone who just ran the "best campaign" as noted on national TV by the man whose campaign he ran ...successfully.

Plouffe is a very smart man. He knows how to deal with people which after all is one of the most important qualities in a senator. You can't get anything done legislatively unless you can convince and persuade others to support it.

All things considered, I think he would be a very good choice.

Posted by: wide-eyed11 | November 7, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Ridiculous. Running a campaign does not qualify you to be a Senator. I think that Plouffe, Biden, and Obama all realize that. The "political chattering class" may be "abuzz", but that says more about their incessant rumormongering than it does about Plouffe's future.

Posted by: Blarg | November 7, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Beau Biden can follow the Lindsay Graham model: Become a lawyer in the reserves and go to Iraq a few weeks a year, then bloviate about his service for the other 50 weeks.

Posted by: bondjedi | November 7, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Oh, please, Chris. You have to be kidding.

If the governor of Delaware were stupid enough to suggest it, Obama would squash the idea in a heartbeat. Even if he were the most qualified person (he isn't), it would look like nepotism of the worst sort.

I understand the desire to find a placeholder for Beau, but this is just silly. Get some rest, willya buddy?

Posted by: mikeinmidland | November 7, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like the best idea. We've had enough cronyism during the past 8 years. I'm hoping the Dems stick to looking for the best and brightest in their fields....

Posted by: RickJ | November 7, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I can't imagine that the Deleware National Guard would have a serious problem in letting Beau Biden serve as a recruiter or something like that if he gets appointed to the Senate.
Also this is all a mute point since Obama will start withdrawling troops soon then Beau won't have to go.

BTW, I hope you told him Congrats on the new baby, plus he could probably pass on some tips for raising the new Fixlet.

Posted by: AndyR3 | November 7, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What a great idea: turn over the mansion to the help. After all, aren't campaigning and legislating really the same thing?

There have to be enough people -- perhaps people with significant substantive expertise in an important policy area -- to choose from to fill this Senate seat, even in Delaware.

Posted by: jbritt3 | November 7, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

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