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Obama's Campaign Champion Pulled Back In

As head of Obama's campaign, David Plouffe was known for his nuts-and-bolts management style. Lionel Cironneau/AP hide caption

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Lionel Cironneau/AP

As head of Obama's campaign, David Plouffe was known for his nuts-and-bolts management style.

Lionel Cironneau/AP

Top White House advisers say President Obama is reaching out to his former campaign manager, David Plouffe, to help Democrats stave off what some pundits and lawmakers worry could be debilitating losses in this year's midterm elections.

Plouffe is taking on an expanded role as an outside adviser to the president, and he will focus on strategy for November's Senate, House and gubernatorial races.

"He's a valued member of our team," said senior presidential adviser David Axelrod. "We want him to offer some advice on setting up operations for the year, heading into a very important midterm election."

Plouffe, who became known for his nuts-and-bolts management style during the 2008 campaign, was reportedly summoned by Obama before the polls closed in Massachusetts, as Democrats watched Republican Scott Brown claim the Senate seat long held by the late Edward Kennedy.

Plouffe's team will aim to detect problems early, and alert the White House and Democratic officials if a candidate is falling behind. The party was caught off guard by Brown's surge in the Massachusetts race, and reacted too late to keep the seat.

After the presidential election, Plouffe chose not to follow Obama to the White House. He returned to the private sector and wrote a book about the campaign called The Audacity to Win. He has remained in touch with the president and his political team, however, and now the administration is looking to him to help the White House regain the political momentum of President Obama's 2008 campaign.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told Fox News Sunday, "David is as smart as anybody that I've ever met, and I think anybody's ever seen in politics." Gibbs says Plouffe will help supplement an "already good political staff" led by White House political director Patrick Gaspard. Aides say there will be no shake-up inside the White House to make room for Plouffe.

In an op-ed for Sunday's Washington Post, Plouffe offered Democrats a tough-love laundry list of suggestions for strengthening the party's position ahead of the midterm elections.

He described a perfect storm of events — including the economic crisis and stubborn unemployment — that create a "recipe for a white-knuckled ride" for many of the party's candidates.

But he also suggested that passing a health care overhaul, creating jobs and painting a "real picture" of the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act can help the party show the country it can lead when times are hard — and stave off what he called a "nightmare in November."