December 11th, 2008
06:30 PM ET
10 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. Bill_ MA

    Rev. Wright served our country as a US Navy Corpsman. Did hannity, rove, limbaugh,cheney, o'reilly,beck,and the other republican chicken hawks serve in the military? Nah.

    December 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  2. DJR

    Bigots! Irrelevant! You are so mislead. The future will be the past! The party rules. What I see in all the posts is the agonizing of the left who turned it's back on the church, and fundamental principals of life. That with in the heart everyone knows that the church established the original law, that nature is not ours but belongs to GOD. That human and mankind worship falls way short of fulfilling. And that the states with the largest most grievous debts N.Y. and California are Democratic havens exploding with failure.

    December 11, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  3. Phil

    The far right is just that. FAR RIGHT ALL BY THEMSELVES. Maybe we should give them a couple states for themselves. idiots

    December 11, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Brenda R. Harris

    America was build on lies and the backs of slaves. This land was taken from the Indians and will never be the same. It is up to the younger generation now too make things right and they have. (They voted for Obama.) The time for healing is now and if we don't start we will be sorry and the rest of the world will hate us more then ever.

    December 11, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  5. Patty

    Blah - blah – blah Axelrod!!!!!!!!!!! Blah-blah-blah Obama!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. franck


    December 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  7. gohi

    Please tell Fitzgerald to stop his comedie,and leave Rod alone. My problem is not the Governor, but unemployment. Can Fitzgerald find me a job?

    December 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  8. Ricky

    And this is why he will be President in just a matter of 5 weeks...I cant wait.

    Sounds like Bush has already given up.

    December 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  9. Chris from NY

    And he is our next President.

    December 11, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  10. Chris from NY

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mr President

    December 11, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  11. Enough is Enough

    Obama, NEVER, EVER, would have won without the Liberal Jewish machine (other Liberals just don't have it.) Obama is nothing but leverage and he knows it. Some things never change – they just get a face wash, and this election proves it. No wonder these folks were so keen to bring in multiculturalism and diversity, whose main objective is to destroy, if possible; if not, debilitate Western culture and values... and the results are all around for us to see.

    Are we better off today, with tdaily debauchery? Of course, not.

    Santayana said: Those who ignore History are bound to repeat it.

    December 11, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  12. Meagan

    After that speech, I too said, "This man will be president"

    December 11, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  13. s

    Obama is what this country needs, we have been divided too long. We are all human and Americans, we have anxieties about other races, because of the negative racial history of this country. If we always sweep the issue under the rug, we will never clean up the mess, and the dirty and filth will pile up. I was so happy when Sen. Obama spoke about about the race issue. I thought finally someone said it. We still have a problem, and we have to continue to fight. I hope the GOP learn from their mistakes.

    December 11, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  14. Lynn

    The Republicans and the press continue to move along the same sorry road with this whole Illinois fiasco trying to paint PE Obama as some sort of conspirator while once again clear minded, patrotic Americans will see through it and continue to support the man who really does have their lives and their country at heart.

    December 11, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  15. jkur

    I have listened to Obama's speech on race twice now. That speech saved this election for him in my opinion. It was simply amazing. Not only the writing but also the way it was delivered. It will be remembered for a very long time.

    December 11, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  16. Tracy M.

    My goodness - the newspapers are going broke and the internet news sites pay abolutely no attention to initial caps, spell-checking or even sentence structure. Our grandchildren will be illiterate! This Axelrod piece is one of the worst examples of journalism I have ever seen - and I taught high school students newspaper production! Take the extra three minutes, please. It's not breaking news.

    December 11, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  17. Ken

    Right as always Anthony. It's not like the Obama campaign wallowed in the mud calling everyone and anyone who disagreed with Obama a racist. Yes, what a wonderful day it is. America has sent a message, and Russia, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Hamas, an Hezbollah share in your joy.

    Sleep tight.

    December 11, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  18. Larry in Houston, Texas

    Here is what will happen in 2012......About 40% of the people that voted for McCain will end up voting for OBAMA + the ones that Voted for OBAMA in 2008 (the first time) ...... In essence, Obama will get re-elected.....enough said...

    Larry C.
    Houston Texas

    December 11, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. Gail in SC

    Amen ! I felt the same way when I heard the speech. It brought tears to my eyes and I am glad that we will have the opportunity to hopefully listen to more speeches of this caliber.

    December 11, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. Ann

    Obama is President because Axelrod made sure he would be, just like Rove got Bush to the presidency. It is all about marketing. . Axelrod's own firm touts its main focus is to ensure getting blacks elected to office. So now he can add one more notch to the list of those African Americans he has put in office and now has a job at the White House for his accomplishments.

    December 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  21. Desmond Sequeira

    General Colin Powell is RIGHT ON.
    And Obama does have the RIGHT INSTINCTS!
    The current Republican brand, featuring the likes of Failin Pailin and Rush Limbaugh, is nothing but totally destructive

    December 11, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  22. The Truth Is!!!

    TO--JM December 11th, 2008 7:30 pm ET
    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.
    ****You are Sooooo RIGHT ******

    December 11, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  23. Xavier

    When I listen to the Glen Becks, the Limbaughs and the saddlebacks I cant help but hear the anger in their voices. The time of their divisive, narrow views is coming to an end. Obama represents that which they fear most ... change.

    December 11, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  24. Stacy Clarks, TX

    this comment is SPOT ON!!

    I don't know who was not amazed after the race speech (democrats and republicans alike)

    I was just like "WOW" after that speech, and I am so proud he is our president!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  25. Susan

    That indeed was a great speech. Very great. I didnt have a chance to hear it before I read it here on the news, but I was deeply moved. Race is indeed America's most challenging issue. There is so much misunderstanding between the races and that became apparent with the Wright situation. One MLK observance I went to, the room sang out with gusto this wonderful song...everyone seemed to know it. I'm white and I had NEVER heard it. There is a great cultural gap in understanding. Blacks tire in trying to explain it, and whites get defensive and dont listen...I'm glad Powell spoke out too.

    December 11, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
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