Political analyst David Axelrod, who advised the Obama campaign in 2011 when his approval ratings were hovering around 40% against Mitt Romney, has been offering tough love for the Biden campaign.
President Biden has privately called Axelrod a pr*ck.
Axelrod takes credit for the turnaround that produced a second Obama term, and now owns President Biden’s salty response for his criticism of the Biden campaign. But nevertheless, he persists.
In Axelrod’s words:
“I think Joe Biden has been a far more competent president than his ratings suggest. And this is purely a function of how people see him. These are communications issues. They’re hard to strategize around. I thought he looked very strong in delivering the speech last week at Valley Forge. There are other times when … it’s much less so.
“These are things that are hard — his gait and all of that stuff. These are the things where people have said, “Why are you talking about that?” It’s like: You think this is a secret? If it were a secret, they wouldn’t have the problems that they have.”
*Listen to the complete podcast below, or check the highlights of the interview that follow.
How Joe Biden should frame his argument according to David Axelrod:
“You have two old guys running for president. One of them is consumed by his past, and the other has an eye on your future. That’s the choice. To me, that’s a compelling argument for Biden. It transcends whatever concerns people have about his presentation and so on. … but he’s never going to get the credit he deserves, at least in real time.
“People should at least know what he’s working toward and what his vision for the country is, because Donald Trump is fully consumed by himself and his own problems and retribution. He’s a backward-looking candidate.”
On how Dems dismiss hand-wringing about Biden’s polling:
“I think that’s deeply, deeply unhelpful, because sometimes there’s reason to be concerned. And there are a lot of really smart and committed supporters of Biden who have concerns.”
Axelrod suggests hearing what the concerns are and decide what is legitimate and needs attention. “I’m not looking to antagonize people who I like and care about. … I know that people expect 100 percent loyalty, but that’s not my job. It’s pretty obvious that there are challenges here.”
On Biden reportedly calling him a prick:
“I don’t blame him. He’s frustrated and probably thought it was unhelpful…. I’m at a stage in my life where I don’t really give a shit. I’m 68. You know, everybody in Washington sort of thinks that the most important thing is that the president likes you and that you get invited to parties and shit like that. I’ve been to plenty of parties. I worked in the White House. That’s not the thing.
“I certainly didn’t say what I said to be injurious to Joe Biden. Sometimes, the most injurious thing is to say nothing at all.”