President Obama counseled supporters Wednesday evening "not to get too bogged down" in details when explaining his record to voters during the campaign.
The president, in a video conference with supporters Wednesday night from Chicago, encouraged his backers to focus on broad themes when it comes to his policies on taxes and war, instead of the specifics of individual policies.
"If somebody asks about taxes, nobody is really interested in hearing what precise marginal tax rate change would you like to see in the tax code," Obama said. "What they want to know is that our campaign stands for a fair, just approach to the tax code that says everybody has to chip in, and that it’s not right if a hedge fund manager is being taxed at a lower rate than his or her secretary."
On Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama said: "If somebody asks about the war, whether it’s Iraq or Afghanistan — if it’s Iraq, you have a pretty simple answer, which is all our folks are going to be out of there by the end of the year. If it’s Afghanistan, you can talk about, look, we think it’s time for us to transition to Afghan lead and rebuild here at home. So, again, it’s a values issue: Where are we prioritizing our resources?"
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Liberal groups have criticized the president for agreeing to a deal in December that extended all of the Bush tax rates through the end of next year. Obama broke a campaign promise in extending Bush-era rates on wealthier households, though he has since insisted he will not agree to extend them again.
Obama also disappointed some supporters with this week's debt-ceiling deal, which included no new revenues from higher taxes despite demands from the White House and Democrats for balanced deficit reduction that leaned on higher taxes and reduced spending.
On the two wars, Obama has come under pressure from liberal supporters who want to see a faster transition of U.S. forces out of Afghanistan.
Obama said his campaign, led by Jeremy Bird, his national field director, would take the lead in ensuring that volunteers have good talking points to take out on the campaign trail. The president said his administration would also lay out new initiatives that would help his grassroots volunteers sell his record.
The president, himself a past community organizer, also said it wasn't so bad for volunteers to tell questioners that they don't know the answer.
"They don’t expect you to know the ins and outs of every single policy," Obama said. "But they do expect that you’re going to treat them with courtesy and that you’re going to get back to them if you don’t know the answer to something."