Obama’s main man will do whatever it takes to fell Republicans and conservatives. Where does his ruthlessness and drive come from?
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Axelrod’s firm has taken aim at bloodthirsty corporate villains like Wal-Mart, while Axelrod himself zeroes in on Republican malefactors seeking to harm Obama’s reelection bid.
In December, when Newt Gingrich suddenly soared in the polls, Ax was there to kick him down, especially with some old-fashioned class envy. Gee, quipped Axelrod, the media had left Gingrich “for dead at the checkout counter at Tiffany’s.” Well, shrugged the strategist, “just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can kick his butt. So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we’ll see how people like the view.”
The headline in the Huffington Post screeched, “David Axelrod Compares Newt Gingrich to a Monkey.”
Newt, however, was a fleeting distraction for Axelrod. With his penchant for class warfare-the craft he and Obama have inherited from the old Chicago comrade mentors—his juiciest target has been Mitt Romney, who he hopes to portray as a poster-boy for Wall Street. He hopes to slice up Mitt as a hunk of red meat for the Occupy movement.
“Obama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the greet recession—a sort of political Gordon Gekko,” reported Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin in an August 2011 Politico piece, aptly titled, “Obama plan: Destroy Romney.”
The piece quoted the Ax himself, saying of Romney: “He was very, very good at making a profit for himself and his partners but not nearly as good [at] saving jobs for communities. He is very much the profile of what we’ve seen in the last decade on Wall Street.”
Politico quoted a “prominent Democratic ?strategist” close to the White House: “Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney.”
Axelrod has maintained that caricature of Romney, speaking on television, giving interviews to print media. “He [Romney] says he represents business,” Axelrod told MSNBC in October, “but he really represents the Wall Street side of business.”
In January, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that Romney is “rooting” for economic decline. Axelrod described Romney as an outsourcer of “tens of thousands of jobs,” as someone who “closed down more than 1,000 plants, stores, and offices” and “took 12 companies to bankruptcy.” As he joyously destroyed businesses and companies and shop-owners and the poor and the crippled and the elderly and the lame and the meek, the rapacious Romney “and his partners made hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“He is not a job creator,” growled Axelrod. “He is a corporate raider.”
David Canter and his father and friends are smiling from their graves.
DAVID AXELROD IS BACK in Chicago, but he is hardly distant from the White House. He is thinking and plotting big picture. He is imaging once again, this time for ‘12 instead of ‘08. This time the images include not only that of his candidate but his candidate’s opposition. As to the former, he is back to refining and tuning the Obama message. “He’s got what musicians would call perfect pitch,” says Don Rose, old mentor.
The pitch worked once. Can it again?
“I have one campaign left,” Axelrod told a reporter a week before he got back to Chicago to gear up for Obama ‘12, “and it is going to be to try to elect a guy who I think is a great president.”