Axelrod: Longer GOP primary helps Obama
December 13th, 2011
01:28 PM ET
2 years ago

Axelrod: Longer GOP primary helps Obama

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's top re-election campaign advisers predict that an extended Republican primary battle will produce a weakened GOP nominee, and that a longer process could drain the independent Republican super PACs of much of their money.

And while top officials continue to focus most of their fire on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one of them did compare new GOP front-runner and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the rear end of a monkey.

Asked if Gingrich can sustain his front-runner over time, senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said "I told my colleagues yesterday a bit of homespun wisdom that I got from an alderman in Chicago some years ago when one of his colleagues wanted to run for higher office and he was really dubious. He said, 'just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt.' So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we'll see how people like the view."

Axelrod also described Gingrich's economic proposals as "far more radical than Romney's," and says if the former House speaker wins the nomination, there's plenty of material in Gingrich's record to use against him in a general election.

His comments came Tuesday as the top Obama campaign officials briefed political reporters in Washington on the campaign's strategy to win the 270 electoral votes needed for re-election next year.

While both the re-election team in Chicago and the Democratic National Committee here in the nation's capitol continue to hammer Romney, Gingrich is beginning to come more and more into their sites.

Last week, in an appearance on CNN, Axelrod described Gingrich as the "Godfather of Gridlock," adding that "I don't think there's any single person in this country that did more to create the kind of discord in Washington that we see today than Newt Gingrich."

Axelrod says that a battle between Gingrich and Romney would hurt rather than help the GOP, adding that "the longer this race goes the more you are going to see these Republican candidates mortgage their general election campaign to win the nomination."

The long nomination battle between then Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 in the end was beneficial to the Democrats, building enthusiasm and helping Obama eventually win the White House. But the re-election campaign says it's a different story this time around for the Republicans.

"The difference here is that we weren't being tugged to a poll in our party. We weren't being tugged to the left in our party. They're being tugged to the right every day," says Axelrod. "I think the longer the race goes, the more they (the GOP candidates) are going to do that (scramble to the right) and the harder it is to scramble back. That wasn't the case in our primary."

The past two weeks have seen a surge in negative attacks between the Republican White House hopefuls and their teams, which the Obama advisers say is dragging down the GOP image.

"None of that is helpful to them. I think it's defining their party in a negative way."

Axelrod says another consequence of an extended nomination battle is that the independent super PACs that are supporting the leading GOP candidates may have depleted funds by the time the general election rolls around, saying that "a lot of that money may be deployed before they ever get to us, deployed in those primaries."

The Obama campaign team also touted that they have an organizational advantage over Republicans, adding that they have more staffers on the ground than the GOP even in Iowa, where the Republican caucus is just three weeks away.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said his team has had about one million telephone conversations with supporters and about 90,000 person-to-person meetings with volunteers since the president launched his re-election bid in April.

"Having [a] ground [game] matters and the other side doesn't have that ground [game] and eventually this will turn into a turnout game and a persuasion game and so far they have shown no ability to grow that kind of organization," added Messina

Two groups that they plan to heavily target: Latino voters who they believe will be alienated by the rhetoric of the Republican candidates and the 8 million people who were too young to vote for Obama in 2008.

Messina outlined five paths to re-election victory that would build upon the states that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry won in the 2004 contest. The western path calls for winning Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, as well as Iowa. The Florida path calls for taking the Sunshine state, the biggest prize among the battleground states. The southern path has Obama winning North Carolina and Virginia, while the Midwest path counts on victories in Ohio and Iowa. An expansion path looks to take Arizona from the GOP.

All the paths would put Obama over the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term in the White House. Messina says that the campaign has not picked any one of the five paths.


Filed under: 2012 • David Axelrod • President Obama
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Jariv

    Vote Romney !!!

    December 13, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. Democrats answer to everything, TAX THE RICH, TAX BUSINESS

    Got news for Axelrod... The primaries are going to REV PEOPLE UP to throw his failure out of office in a very humiliating defeat. America has seen that the man they were told walked on water has done nothing but wet his pants trying to figure out what the heck he is doing.

    Then this slimey guy can go back to being a used car salesman.

    December 13, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. george of the jungle

    I think Dave is right on. Anyone who has been around to watch gingrich over the years knows eventually he self distructs. The man is a monkey butt who is only interested in furthering his pocket book. The longer these clowns have to demonstrate how stupid they are the better. 4 and the door ,don't let it hit you in the -when this election is over.

    December 13, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Beantown Bully

    OKay four and the door. It seems like you're outnumbered here. Also, when you post on CNN I’ve never ever see you back anything you say with facts. I get that you don’t like Obama, you may be a racist, a partisan hack, or just an ill-informed fox watcher. But your passion for politics is palpable, perhaps actually applying some of your intelligence to an ideology that benefits all, instead of some, may help you sleep at night.
    But with the HATE you have, you will never allow you to see the forest for the trees.

    December 13, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. The Greedy Old Pigs are a delusional deathcult

    "America has seen that the man they were told walked on water has done nothing but wet his pants trying to figure out what the heck he is doing."

    Look in the mirror, junior. It's you GOBP deathcult members that specializing in wetting the bed over imaginary fears and propaganda.

    December 13, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    I am completely annoyed with Axelrod. How dare anyone compare the newterman to a monkey's butt. Poor monkeys! Plus their rears look better than the newterman's newly botoxed fat ugly face.

    December 13, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  7. AL in West Palm Beach

    As a hard-working American voter, I have seen enough of these teapublicans...I'll repeat myself.

    I'll cut off my nose first, before I vote for ONE republican.

    December 13, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. V in Chicago

    @ Four and the Door – Did you see the same interview I did? I didn't see any beating up by Steve Kroft. All Obama has to do is watch the right implode. Trust me, it's coming. The right has already devoured half of it's self, now we just have to wait for them to nominate either Romney or Gingrich. Romney doesn't stand a chance of beating Obama and Gingrich? Where do I start? He may be the current "any one but Romney" candidate, but there is not a snow ball's chance in he!! that he will win the White House. Waaaaaay too much baggage and history. Once him and Romney are done duking it out, it will be an easy win for Obama.

    December 13, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. Democrats answer to everything, TAX THE RICH, TAX BUSINESS

    Obama's done nothing but campaign for four years. Endless speeches, TV appearances, talk shows, you name it, any place somebody will put up a camera and invite him, he'll go and set up his trusty teleprompter. Lead? Do the job he was elected to do?? HA! No time for THAT! There are vacations and golf to be attended to after all those tiring speeches about how everything is somebody else fault.

    Honestly, four more years of this buffoon campaigner in chief and we are sooo screwed!

    December 13, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. DC Observer

    The majority of the republican candidates withdrew and that was the smart thing to do as this was a circus with an arrogant self centered reality TV host as moderator – NUTS. Newt signed up because he belongs in a circus with Trump and Newt already knew Trump is going to endorse him. Santorum signed up because he has no money; has little chance to stay in; and this gave him some more exposure. Trump is so full of himself – my dog has a better chance running as an Independent than Mr Wig, and my dog has better hair (and it is his own).

    As for Gingrich, if he wins the GOP nomination, he will destroy the Republicans' chances for the White House for a second time. Newt cannot beat Obama because he has too much baggage; is an insider with a dirty recond in Congress; cannot get independents or moderates to support him, and will make the election about him and not the economy and debt – this plays right into Obama's hands as Obama would win hands down on an election based on character – not so against Romney.. If Republicans do not wake up and realize they must compromise in the primaries and select Mitt Romney, they have no hope of capturing the White House in 2012. Only Mitt can get the Independents and moderates –and unlike Newt, there will be no character issues (cheating on a wife who had cancer; or undermining President Herbert Bush in the balanced budget amendment vote that sunk the GOP under Newt"s watch when he lied to then President Bush.

    Newth has real issues. Issues of character. Issues of policy. Issues of trustworthiness. Issues of honesty. On top of this, Newt is just not a nice man – he is vicious – will change his position on a dime – and will outright lie about his record and what he stands for. Gingrich will never be President The only thing Newt might be able to accomplish, is to derail the republican's bid for the Oval Office a second time, and damage the GOP

    December 13, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. V in Chicago

    "Democrats answer to everything, TAX THE RICH, TAX BUSINESS"

    Republican's answer to everthing, LIE, LIE SOME MORE, THEN KEEP LYING and then ONE MORE LIE just to make sure you've covered all you LIES! And then, just to make sure your lies are believed, make a PLEDGE! That should do it. . .

    What a joke you clowns are!!

    December 13, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. vatoloke

    I love it when they eat their own.

    December 13, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. LibsLie

    Axelrod was right on the money for midterms (NOT) until the last month when he realized they would get their asses handed to them then he candy coated it.. Bottom line the great community organizer, leader that was going to bring us together and save the economy (that his own democrats helped mess up in a MAJORITY IN CONGRESS WAY ) is not surprising he is disparaging to others democrats are the party that divides owned slaves polarizes to stay in power they love Mao and Stalin and spending others money...........

    December 13, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. LibsLie

    Bottom line fact democrats make up most of the lesser educated, illegal immigrants, former prison inmates and gang bangers that is the majority of their party.......they stay in power by divisioin and derrision they prove Alynski right every time they do win by name calling, lying and cheating.........that is the democrat party way, the party that divided the nation and started a civil war and owned slaves is the party that seeks to divide and enslave today.

    December 13, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. Wonders why

    I can guarantee that if ANYONE on the Republican side would have made a comment about a Monkey there would have been RACE cards flung in every direction!

    December 13, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. Ray E. (Georgia)

    What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Decieve.All the Obamaites have left is Cheap Shots. Maybe they can pull the wool over the eyes of the public once again but the Polls say otherwise.

    For you Obamaites, start looking out for yourself, The Liberals and Democrats will leave you holding tha bag.

    December 13, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. Thomas

    With all of the uncertainty in the world , he doesn't know !

    December 13, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Duncan Large

    "While both the re-election team in Chicago and the Democratic National Committee here in the nation's capitol continue to hammer Romney, Gingrich is beginning to come more and more into their sites."

    Surely, "sights"?

    December 13, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  19. LibsLie

    You prove my point democrats only win by name calling and lying and cheating.........go light a candle to you messiah PinocchiObama he has some koolaid for you and a 666 loyalty tattoo! You can help him with his library planning he will have plenty of time next year after November to work on it as he will again be a resident of the most corrupt city in America Chi-Town flatlander mob union thug town.......maybe you can help him community organize....
    "Marie MD

    I am completely annoyed with Axelrod. How dare anyone compare the newterman to a monkey's butt. Poor monkeys! Plus their rears look better than the newterman's newly botoxed fat ugly face."

    December 13, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. LibsLie

    Only one party does not want voter ID...........the party that name calls lies and cheats to win DemocRATs!

    December 13, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. Woman In California

    @ V in Chicago

    "Democrats answer to everything, TAX THE RICH, TAX BUSINESS"

    Republican's answer to everthing, LIE, LIE SOME MORE, THEN KEEP LYING and then ONE MORE LIE just to make sure you've covered all you LIES! And then, just to make sure your lies are believed, make a PLEDGE! That should do it. . .

    What a joke you clowns are!!
    ---------------
    You missed one point – THEY LOVE TO PLAY THE SCARE TACTIC. Remember? Next year the theme will be "appeasement". These guys are unbelievable.

    December 13, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. Expat American

    Now this is a Democratic Party that is finally showing some teeth – I can get on board with that. Bachmann is the horse's behind, at the risk of insulting the horse.

    December 13, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Dan5404

    Axelrod's analogy was a little crude, but he is right about the exposre that is falling on those pretending not to be flip-floppers and born again Christians. Both front runners have big gaps between their claims and the facts. Those gaps will becomewider upon closer scrutiny by their opponents and voters.

    December 13, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Keeping them honest

    If anyone ever made that monkey comment about the President, there would be hell to pay. Axelrod is out of touch with the way the world really works.

    December 13, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Mark

    I will take a mediocre Obama over the current Monty Python casting call that's out there now. Can the GOP PUH-LEASE furnish a relevant candidate so that we can start mocking someone remotely intelligent?

    December 13, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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