ALISON VAN DIGGELEN: Hello and welcome to Fresh Dialogues. Today I’ll be talking with David Axelrod. President Obama’s Chief Political Strategist. David, thank you for joining me today on Fresh Dialogues
DAVID AXELROD: Happy to be here.
ALISON VAN DIGGELEN: Good. Now Obama has started his first (2012) Campaign ad with a defense of his clean energy policy. Why did Obama choose to start with green?
DAVID AXELROD: The ad that it was responding to was an ad sponsored by a SuperPAC… sponsored by the Koch brothers… two oil billionaires … and it was an attack particularly on the Solyndra issue but it was really an attack on the whole green energy initiative of the president’s. And we’re proud of that initiative…we’re proud that we’re on par to double renewable energy during the course of his first term. He believes very strongly that we need to command the clean energy technology of the future and that as a country we need to be encouraging the development of clean energy technology or we’re going to see that go to other parts of the world.
ALISON VAN DIGGELEN: You mention Solyndra specifically. Solyndra seems to be a thorn in the side of Obama. It keeps coming up. How does he intend to remove the thorn?
DAVID AXELROD: All you can do is be open and candid about it. We knew when made investments in clean energy technology that some would do well and others would not. That’s the nature of this…these are speculative investments. And that’s the reason why they needed some nudging from the government in order to blossom…You can look at Solyndra or you can look at the fact that when we started, the US had about 2% of the advanced battery manufacturing for electric cars. We’re on course to get to 40% by the middle of this decade.
ALISON VAN DIGGELEN: That’s impressive.
DAVID AXELROD: That wouldn’t have happened without the investments we’ve made. We’ve seen real growth in solar and in wind energy and so these are investments that are paying off for the country. I’m very certain that we’re going to look back at the seeds that were planted during this period and we will say that it has made a big difference for the country in a positive way.
ALISON VAN DIGGELEN: What percentage of the program’s investment went to Solyndra?
DAVID AXELROD: There were forty under this specific program, so it was a small percentage of the entire program. It was a program… that was begun under the Bush Administration and we accelerated that program because we do believe that we are in a real competition for the clean energy technology of the future and we as a country have a great interest in developing alternative energy and home grown domestic energy and renewable energy. These were investments that made sense. Some will pay great dividends, others unfortunately will not.
ALISON VAN DIGGELEN: Yes.
DAVID AXELROD: Plainly, we have to have our eye on the future and really encourage and develop renewable sources of energy. It’s good for the planet, it’s good for the economy, it’ll create great jobs…high end manufacturing jobs. This is going to continue being a thrust for us. We’re not going to back off.
ALISON VAN DIGGELEN: Thanks for joining us.
The interview took place backstage at Foothill College’s Celebrity Forum on January 27, 2012. Check back soon for more with David Axelrod:
On Michelle Obama’s influence on green policy
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October 10, 2013