December 11th, 2008
06:30 PM ET
5 years ago

'This is why you should be president...'

Axelrod was a top advisor to Obama's campaign.
Axelrod was a top advisor to Obama's campaign.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) – After a campaign with a lot of focus on 3 a.m. phone calls, chief Obama strategist David Axelrod recalled a 2 a.m. e-mail as a decisive moment.

It was the evening before Barack Obama's big speech on race - an effort to quiet the uproar over statements from his chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Some aides weren't quite sure a race speech was a good idea, but Obama was adamant and "we didn't have a better idea," Axelrod told a forum at Harvard's Institute of Politics Thursday evening. 

Axelrod recalled going to sleep after a long day of campaigning in Pennsylvania, knowing Obama had retired to his hotel room to the finish the speech.

At 2 a.m., he said he woke up and Obama had e-mailed the speech.  After scrolling through the text on his blackberry, Axelrod said he replied with a simple sentence: "This is why you should be president."

Chief McCain pollster Bill Mcinturff, also at the forum, said McCain was adamant that his campaign would not raise Rev. Wright as an issue.

But even if he thought otherwise, Mcinturff said given McCain's deficit among younger and latino voters, using the Wright issue would likely have backfired.

In his best case scenario using Wright as an issue, Mcinturff said McCain might win the presidency with 273 electoral votes but lose the popular vote by "3 million votes and de-legitimize the presidency."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Kim

    The man who took the high road won. As it should be. It's going to be a great four (hopefully eight) years.

    December 11, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  2. No Hillary = No Obama

    Speeches to handle crisis? This is why someone should be President? Give me a break.

    December 11, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  3. TJ

    David, you're fantastic. And you will serve PE Obama very well. These are two very intelligent men!! Can't wait til 20 Jan 09.

    December 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. JM

    The party needs to stop listening to all the self aggrandizing types, the Glen Becks, the Limbaughs, the Saddleback church types, all of them. Powell is spot on. Polarizing social conservative rhetoric gets them everywhere with their base...we saw last month that the base got them exactly NOWHERE!! They need to wake up. The Sarah Palin pick was a great thrill for the base, and a disaster for the party. Unfortunatley, they still don't get it. This isn't American Idol, it's the country's future at stake.....they will become irrelevant in the near future barring major shifts in philosophy and aims.

    December 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. BB

    The bigots on the far right that are still trying to dictate our morals and principals with hate and divisiveness will never get it.

    They put W in and look at the last 8 years. He tries to dictate democracy to countries that don't want it.

    December 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. Peter TX

    this is why we voted obama not mccain to lead this country back to glory. God guide and protect u Barrack

    December 11, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Lois, HI

    Excellent. The two parties rose above raise. The country is getting better, thanks to Barack's candidacy.

    December 11, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. sully

    leave sarah under the snow in 2012 please, she's not the one.

    December 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. Olivia, NJ

    "This is why you should be president"–David Axelrod

    I agree David, I agree.

    December 11, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. political fortune-teller

    "Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen." — Winston S. Churchill

    December 11, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. Sunil

    I agree. I am 40+ and this is the first time in a long time someone has inspired me. I am not one of those people who thinks that Obama is God who walks upon this earth. Of course not. He is a politician. Of course he has his faults – who does not?

    But there is something at the core of this man that is decent, that is intelligent and that is inspiring. And that is why I think that he will rise above all the smallness of our politics and be a force for good around the world. He will succeed in some areas and probably fail in some. But it is because of his core decency that he will move us forward and move us away from the direction that the neo-cons and the Limbaughs and the Karl Roves were taking us.

    We'll see. I continue to have very high hopes.

    December 11, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  12. Ron

    Obama spent the last twenty years in Illinois with strong ties to all the corruption in the poltitics in the state. He had ties to most all of the unsavory characters in the state, most of whom preached hate of America and he bought the votes,with the help of the news media, to the White House with funds form sources he will not identify. Then he promises change. A man that we can really trust,right?

    December 11, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  13. Cynthia - Arkansas

    I will sleep a lot better at night knowing Obama has my back. I totally trust his judgement. If he runs this country like he ran his campaign, we will have a great 8 years.

    December 11, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  14. Toni

    BB and JM – absolutely right. I think we should also be realistic about Obama. He didn't win because he was a liberal. He won because he's intelligent and an exceptionally good strategist with a vision. So, if he tackles the economy before education or health care or ending the war, please remember that he has a duty to serve ALL of the country, not just the liberals (of which I am one) who haven't gotten their way for so very long. Continue to trust this guy the way you did during his campaign.

    December 11, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  15. DIZIZI31

    What would the election look like if Axelrod was McCain's advisor? Palin was McCain's downfall. Axelrod with all his sleepless nights couldn't build up that house of cards destined to fall.
    You picked the right team to be on and helped a "community worker" become the 44th President of the United States. Well done Maestro.

    December 11, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  16. Anthony

    Gen. Powell was spot on. I never understoon how they could spew such negative, abusive and demeaning rhetoric and then accuse others of being un-American or worse. I never understood the logic that said you are not good enough to be American. I am so proud that Americans sent a clear message that this is not who we are. There are still quite a few of them left but hopefully after 8 years of the Obama Administration, the remaining hopefuls will move away from the slime of Hannity, Rush, and the rest.

    Peace
    Obama08

    December 11, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  17. Patty

    If you want to understand corrupt Chicago politics, google David Axelrod (Obam's brain).

    December 11, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. Lolita

    i agree with JM!

    December 11, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. Ernie

    How many of you people would continue to go to a church every Sunday for 20 years to hear a preacher preach about hate and against the country that that you live in and the White race. There is a problem here folks. Did Obama not know what he was hearing? He must have agreed with it to sit there for 20 years. Maybe this is why Michelle, after leaving the church, said that she was proud to be an American for the first time in her life. Their actions are not in line with their words. I never sat in a church and heard a white preacher preach against Blacks. Now who is racist?

    December 11, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. james

    Chief McCain pollster Bill Mcinturff had figured out that if McCain used Wright he would win 273 electoral votes and lose the popular vote by 3 million?? Wow, pretty audacious for a guy who thought McCain could win Pennsylvania.

    December 11, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  21. concerned coloradan

    The U. S. has more than enough politicians. In Barack Obama we
    may have, dare I say it, a statesman. That's what this country has needed for a long time.

    December 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  22. FreeNLovIt

    WE need more moderates ... more common sense...

    December 11, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  23. Daniel

    As I look back at my party ( Republican). I just can not forget the anger I felt towards George W. Bush and for that reason, I so wished that my party would loose the White House.
    I said at one time that my Party would loose the Senate and the Congress and most likely the White House, I I guess I was not wrong.
    Can't my fellow Republicans see what George W. Bush did to it?
    Can't my fellow Republicans see that Cheney and Bush destroyed it?
    Can't my fellow Republicans see that the Democratic Party had already won the White House, with or without Obama? With or without Hillary?
    For the simple reason that there was to much hate towards our party?
    I was sick and so angry towards my own Party I hoped and knew we would loose the White House.

    December 11, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Judy, FL

    We're all American and yet the others want to say because we disagree with them, that we're not. This country has many diverse cultures and we are the better for it.

    Barack is an example of the power of our convictions. Out of many one, and what a wonderful example he has shown. My prayers are with him every day, that he will be safe and sound and lead this country out of this quagmire.

    God Bless America.

    December 11, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  25. Soldier 4 OBAMA

    Well, Palin will never be President, neither will any GOP within the next 20 years and by then, noteven the Church will help the GOP unless of couse the candiate in 20 years is a person of color!

    Truth be told!

    December 11, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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