March 14th, 2010
02:51 PM ET
3 years ago

Axelrod urges 'discount' of reports of tension with Emanuel

'We are a tight group,' Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said of the president's inner circle.
'We are a tight group,' Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said of the president's inner circle.

Washington (CNN) – Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday that there’s nothing to recent reports of tension between himself and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Related video: Axelrod on Emanuel

“These stories are what Washington does,” Axelrod, a former Chicago Tribune reporter, said in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union. “When people think there are political challenges, then the ‘palace intrigue’ stories get written and so on. We are a tight group. We are all committed to the same thing and I would discount those stories.”

On a more personal note, Axelrod also spoke favorably of Emanuel, who has a reputation for sometimes being rough around the edges in his political dealings with allies and foes.

“[H]e is a close personal friend of mine and I have enormous respect for him. He is a tremendous asset to this administration. I think he has been incredibly faithful to the vision of the president and many of the things we achieved, we would not have achieved without his leadership,” Axelrod told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Recent reports in both the New York Times and the Washington Post have suggested that Obama’s inner circle, which ran a near flawless campaign, is now struggling in the task of governing because of the tension between Obama’s trademark idealism, shaped by Axelrod into a campaign narrative, and Emanuel’s hard-nosed political pragmatism.

According to these reports, the administration’s penchant for large, ambitious, more idealistic initiatives has won out in the past year over Emanuel’s internal push for smaller, relatively more doable, and more pragmatic legislative approaches. As a result, these reports suggest, Democrats would be in a better position to make their case to voters in November, during what is shaping up to be a midterm election year characterized by anti-incumbent, anti-Washington sentiment.

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soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Rahm has a job to do and the GOP are scared because he is the best at what he does. This is just another GOP tactic in a desperate attempt to distract Democrats because they have nothing, absolutely nothing to offer.

    March 14, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. B Jayne Shaw

    Candy Crowley let David Axelrod off the hook this morning. David Axelrod said that polling showed large consensus on many points of the healthcare bill. I agree. There are good points but the whole package is the controversy. Why can't several bills be developed starting with the points of consensus? And why did Candy Crowley let him get away with that? It was such an easy follow up.

    March 14, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. cspurgeon

    Smart people but they need to cease and desist with reaction to emedia gone wild. Axelrod is showing the strain and doesn't look all that well. Hope he stays ok. Rahm needs to do what he does in private and Gibbs needs to give shorter more concise answers especially when media is trying to get something..anything.

    March 14, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Dave

    Typical liberal response regarding Emanuel. Say one thing, but mean just the opposite.

    March 14, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. b graves

    WH gang has selected a fall guy, probably putting sword in himself to be rewarded in Chicago.

    Thanks in advance for the 2010 election!

    March 14, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. valwayne

    When they start saying there are no problems you know they are bigger than we think? :-) Obama and Axelrod have ignored Emanuel's advice and its been a disaster. So do they start moderating and following better advice....not at all.....they double down on the radical left wing agenda! If we don't get balance in our Government in Nov the insanity in the Obama administsration may wreck us for generations!

    March 14, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. SAGAR RAKSIT

    Axlerod, you're hopeless! What happened to the organization and enthusiasm from the campaign days? Seems like you've surrendered all the initiative to the Tea Party and lost the momentum generated in 2008. Where is the zeal? Where are the young people who never cared to vote before but came out in droves to work for Obama? Need to bring Howard Dean back. It was a mistake to kick him out. His 50 State plan was what brought the Democrats in power which I'm afraid will be surrendered meekly this November, and make Obama a one term president. That will be a SHAME!

    March 14, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Bob in Ohio

    Two losers don't make a winner.

    March 14, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Pamela Porter

    I just cannot believe the Dems have let everything get lost. We had such high hopes for our new president and his staff. What is the problem you guys? Here comes the GOP and everything new and hopeful for our country is still the same.

    Really worst– our schools, our roads, the economy,women's rights, the rights of all. Because of the inner BS. I am sick of all of you. You act like a bunch of children, grow up and do something for your country, isn't that why we put you there. I am very disappointed and just want out. Canada is looking better and better.

    Thanks alot Democrats for letting us down again. I guess the conservatives win again. Shame, shame on the whole party.

    Pamela

    March 14, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. JES

    You can't even get along within your own party.

    What a joke the American voters did when they voted for change glad I wasn't one of them.

    The change will come later this year and at that time we should mandate term limits with all elected officials that would be no longer than 8 years. Their retirement would be based on how many years spent in office and have no such thing as full retirement after 8 years.

    Have only the pay raises we give them and have the same health insurance that is passed in a health care bill that will be good for all government workers elected or not.

    March 14, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. usualone

    Mr. Axelrod is a breath of fresh air. His calm demeanor is great with what we all face these days to clean up the mess that has existed for several years. If Mr. Emanuel and he differ, I am sure they listen to each other's ideas. They balance each other. Both have experienced life with its ups and downs which also adds to the dimensions of their experience. Both are intelligent enough to add their input. Strong personalities will add to the success of this administration contrary to what many will put forth. Long marriages survive with spats but they usually have fine outcomes. Therefore, so what if they fight in their daily dealings, as long as they listen to the experience of the other. We all win with tht kind of input.

    March 14, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. The storm is coming

    Mr. Axelrod is dissembling..... It's long been known that the more political savvy Mr. Emmanuel has tried to be a voice of reason, advocating that the administration take a more measured approach. I think he understands that this big bang approach is crazy. I suspect his pleas are falling on deaf ears because Mr. Obama is surrounded by self-righteous sycophants & everyone on the staff is afraid to report that the emperor has no clothes. If they haven't done so already, Messrs. Obama & Axelrod should take a cold, hard look at the article by Patrick H. Caddell & Douglas E. Schoen in in the Washington Post on Friday.

    March 14, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Ken in NC

    WOW. Democrats can't govern because Republicans have found that since they don't have the numbers to beat them, they can attack their ranks. They realize they can attack the Democratic ranks because Democrats are basically like 4, 5 or 6 little parties all under one name. Republicans realize that by keeping one or two of these groups distracted or orr balance, they can defeat them because each group has it's own agenda and none of that agenda is the unification of the party. It is all about them while Republicans unite as one. They may not all agree on a plan of action but once they and their leadership make a decision, Republicans all fall in line and support and follow their leadership. This is not always good but in the case where one group is going to cause a division in he ranks of another group, unity is where their strength is and Democrats do not have that ability. With Democrats, it's "if I do not have my way then I will drag the entire process down the tube". Once in place that infection will be easy for Republicans to spread up and down the ranks of the party in power as is evident by this story about tension in the White House. Republicans know that because of all the free thinkers in both Republican and Democratic administrations there is always some tension there but Republicans are making every effort to put a light on it with Democrats in power to make it appear that it is something out of the ordinary when in fact it is not.

    March 14, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  14. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Axelrod is merely an admitted "campaign hack" with nothing more than "communications" experience, and Emanuel is just another Chicago Mafioso who's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. They and the rest of the Obama Gang are why virtually nothing has been accomplished since the inauguration of America's first and last black President for quite some time.

    March 14, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Mark

    Time will tell but I would bet this administration is in trouble in every
    aspect! Where there is smoke there is usually fire!

    March 14, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Obamacare will be repealed......

    just like Prohibition it's going down before 2014 when it's scheduled to start......vote the Dems out of Congress in 2010, Obama out in 2012, and repeal Obamacare in 2013.

    Go Tea Party.

    March 14, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. No Incumbents 2010

    This is the most important story CNN can find? How about a story on the effect of owing $9 trillion to China? How about a story about eliminating our dependence on Middle East oil?

    March 14, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Dave

    This administration is a disaster, tension or not tension.

    March 14, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. fhjetta

    Candy Crowley is the one who called Richard Lugar a "conservative". Makes you wonder where she has been all these years.

    March 14, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Jake Grov. W

    Indeed; one wants a Kenyan type policy, the other wants an Indonesian one. Who knows at the end which one will prevail. The Communist News Network (CNN) will ley us know.

    March 14, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. Rich

    There is honor among theives,, ie the Democrats.

    March 14, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. NC

    Real Hope and Change will come when the Republicans take control in 2010 and 2012. Period.

    March 14, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. PaulaBanksfromGA

    I want your jobs and your money from all you left wing higher educated well to do. If you mandate me to buy or purchase something I don't want. I want a receipt every month from you guys in the Democrat Party. If you want to share the wealth all the goodies you already have. Start sharing. Just remember One thing– when someone pays for something-the limit they will wait to receive the Product. You haven't seen anger till they are told you will get it. But not today.

    March 14, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Guaris Nake

    David Axelrod said that polling showed large consensus on many points of the healthcare bill. I agree.

    March 14, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. Paul from Phoenix

    This happens in every administration. Why do you think Powell left after the first Bush term.

    This is not uncommon. What will be interesting is to who who is left standing after the battle.

    March 14, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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