TODAY   |  May 31, 2013

Author tracks Obama’s comeback to win 2012 election

When President Obama received what he called a “shellacking” in 2010’s mid-term elections, many critics thought he would never be reelected. NBC News analyst and author Jonathan Alter talks about how Obama managed to win his second term, which he writes about in “The Center Holds.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we've all had to eat humble humbhumble pie at one point or another but most of us didn't have to do it in front of the entire country.

>> that was president obama in 2010 . his re-election in doubt and how did he come out on top? "the center holds" skrjonathan alter, good to see you. this isn't about politics but in a sense perseverance.

>> it is. he was facing 10% unemployment a couple of years ago, real unpopularity, and he built the greatest political organization in american history , 2 million volunteers. he figured out how to have the right message to middle class voters and appeal to young people , african-americans, latinos and women . women were key. 55% of the women 's vote so essentially your viewers were the ones who put him back in office.

>> you mentioned 55% of women went for president obama that was flipped if you looked at men. what did the president do and in turn the republicans do to help the president win the women vote?

>> some of it was self-inflicted wounds by the republicans. you remember when rush limbaugh attacked this young woman , sandra fluke, just a georgetown student, called her a slut.

>> and republicans.

>> did not denounce rush limbaugh because they were afraid of him and later, todd aiken talked about legitimate rape, a candidate out in missouri, then shortly before the election, another candidate in indiana, richard mourdock said it was god's will when women were raped and at that moment mitt romney had an ad for mourdock on tv which he didn't pull and didn't denounce mourdock and at the same time saying i want to eliminate federal funding for planned parent hood . millions of women get their health services through planned parenthood and the president went out and campaigned very hard among women and connected well to them and of course michelle obama helped.

>> you mentioned that. the folks who didn't vote for the president, why should they buy this? what is the message really about?

>> i think this is partly just to place this in the history of this country, it was an extraordinarily important election, whoever won voted for and these events go by so fast, you see headlines. you want somebody, i hope me, to come along and put everything that's happened in political life in the last couple years in some kind of context so it's comprehensible for people and i think there's also a personal lesson from barack obama and that's of perseverance. this is a guy who was essentially abandoned by, first his father and then his mother was doing research, raised by his grandparents. they were on food stamps for a while. he was able to make it all the way up and when he's behind the eight ball , looks like he's going to be a one-term president and a fluke and a footnote and a jimmy carter , he's able to come back. whether one likes or doesn't like obama, whether you voted or not, the story of perseverance is really important and also i just have a lot of fun stories in the book, michelle obama for instance.

>> we're going to have to hold it there because there's a lot in there.

>> father's day.

>> that's right, father's day. the book is "center holds" john than alter, thank you very