David Axelrod

Why'd It Take Obama So Long to Go Populist?
January 25, 2012

Ever since last fall, when Obama began honing the more confrontational style he displayed in the State of the Union speech, his advisers have insisted that populism has always been part of the president's political persona, not something he only groped for after two-and-a-half years of Republican intransigence. As David Axelrod told Politico, “The viability of the middle class, and the opportunity to get ahead, has been a central cause of Obama’s life.”  It’s not that statements like this are untrue. It’s that they’re incomplete.

The Rise and Fall of Bill Daley: An Inside Account
January 18, 2012

When President Obama announced that Bill Daley would no longer serve as White House chief of staff, he pronounced himself chagrined by the move but explained that Daley had an understandable desire to return to Chicago. “In the end,” the president told reporters in the State Dining Room, “the pull of the hometown we both love—a city that’s been synonymous with the Daley family for generations—was too great.” As a face-saving gesture this may have been understandable, but as an explanation for Daley’s departure it strains credulity.

The Original Tea Partier
December 16, 2011

[Guest post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of Newt Gingrich’s highly puzzling ascendance is his popularity among Tea Party voters. As of December 6 he was the overwhelming Tea Party favorite, with 47% of their support. (This enthusiasm may have flagged amid the targeted attacks Newt’s opponents have been deploying this week.) Gingrich’s lead could be a passing fad, but while it lasts, he’s got the Tea Party to thank. His numbers among “moderates/liberals” and “Tea Party nonsupporters” are virtually identical to Romney’s.

2012: The It Gets Better Project?
December 14, 2011

Noam's post this afternoon on the White House's belated revelation about Republican intransigence reminded of another interesting item from yesterday's briefing with the Obama reelection team, their response to a good question from the Boston Globe's Glen Johnson asking how the Obama crew viewed things proceeding in 2013, assuming their optimistic projections proved correct and Obama won a second term.

Second-City Crew vs. Third Party Plotters
December 13, 2011

You may have already seen mention of some of the highlights from the debriefing by the Obama reelection team, flown in from Chicago, that I and many other political reporters attended this morning at the DNC -- Jim Messina's breakdown of the various paths to 270 Electoral College votes, David Axelrod's naughty invocation of an off-color primate metaphor to describe the rise of Newt Gingrich. One notable moment that has gotten less attention, though, came on one of my favorite topics, the prospect of a well-financed, "radical centrist" third choice appearing on most state ballots, courtesy of

Deadline: Winning the Future. Or At Least the Present.
December 05, 2011

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy [with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] Want to know who’s winning a political fight? See which side is arguing about policy and which side is arguing about tactics. The side arguing about the policy is winning.

The Wizard of Oz Attack
October 31, 2011

After David Plouffe declared yesterday on Meet the Press that Mitt Romney "has no core," Republicans flew into a state of high dudgeon. GOP consultant Mike Murphy, for one, called it a "step too far" and demanded a White House apology for the remark. But if this is a step too far, then it's one that's been taken long before now. The Obama reelection team and the DNC have clearly decided that simply branding Romney a flip-flopper is not sufficient -- that to really capture his lack of conviction, one needs to take inspiration from L.

Suskind On Chicago and Obama
September 16, 2011

Earlier today I wondered what Ron Suskind's forthcoming book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, would have to say about White House chief of staff (and scapegoat du jour) Bill Daley. One thing it says, I have since learned, is that in September 2008, as polls were starting to show that Obama was the likely winner, a meeting was called with three former Clinton chiefs of staff: John Podesta (who would later be Obama's transition chief), Leon Panetta (now defense secretary) and Erskine Bowles (later co-chairman, with former Sen.

Obama's New Message Takes Shape
August 22, 2011

A week ago, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration was divided over its strategy between advisers who wanted to emphasize accomplishments and those who wanted to emphasize pragmatic accomplishments and those who wanted to confront Congressional Republicans: Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact.

Colorado vs. Ohio
February 23, 2011

In some presidential cycles, an incumbent’s reelection strategy doesn’t matter all that much. When the economy is very strong (1984), the incumbent wins big; when it’s very weak (1932), he loses even bigger. And when a party chooses a nominee seen as outside the mainstream (1964, 1972), it suffers a crushing defeat. It’s possible that one or more of these circumstances could prevail next year. The economy could over- or under-perform current projections; the Republicans could choose a nominee who’s too conservative or lacks credibility as a potential president.