March 15th, 2010
08:53 AM 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.

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

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