David Axelrod: Elizabeth Warren Can't Beat Hillary

The grass roots of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is begging for Elizabeth Warren to run against Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination, but according to David Axelrod, the architect of Barack Obama’s two wins, Warren isn’t running and it doesn’t matter if she did, because Elizabeth Warren can’t beat Hillary.

The latest stop on the promotional tour for Axelrod and his new book “Believer,” was Wednesday night on the Hugh Hewitt Radio Show.

After discussing the only controversy that arose with the publication (Axelrod said Obama lied about his position on same sex marriage in 2008—Obama said that wasn’t exactly true—Axelrod told Hewitt it was true) the two began to discuss the 2016 race for president. Despite the fact that there seems to be a developing groundswell for Warren, Axelrod believes that even if she ran, there would be no way she’d beat the former Secretary of State. Interestingly, his confidence in Clinton is not based on any growth on her part since her failed 2008 run, but because he believes the country has moved closer to her:

Hewitt: Can Elizabeth Warren beat her?

Axelrod: I don’t think Elizabeth, I know Elizabeth Warren well, and my strong feeling is she’s not going to run. I think she’s trying to influence the direction of the party, and you have more influence as a potential candidate than you do if you take yourself out. So she’s allowing, she’s sticking to this language of “I’m not running for president,” and titillating people with it, because it gives her more leverage. I don’t think she would beat her. I have high regard for Elizabeth. I don’t think she would beat her. Look, look at the polling, Hugh. Hillary is probably as well-positioned within her own party as any open seat candidate has been in our lifetime. And you know, she’s going to have to go out and work for it. If she assumes anything and doesn’t go out and work for it, and earn it, and make her case and present her, a rationale for a candidacy that resonates with people, then anybody is vulnerable under those circumstances. But you know, I know the team she’s assembling. I have a high regard for them. I have some sense of the kind of thinking she’s doing. I think she’s going to come out of the gate very strong.

Hewitt: But then you’re saying, you have to be saying, I don’t mean to corner David Axelrod, I can’t corner David Axelrod. You’re saying that Elizabeth Warren is the candidate that Barack Obama was, because Barack Obama was in the same position vis-à-vis Hillary in 2007, and he beat Hillary, and you’re saying Elizabeth Warren couldn’t beat Hillary?

Axelrod: No, what I’m saying is that 2007 was, is not 2015 or ’16. There was a dominant issue within the Democratic Party in 2007 and 2008, and that was the war in Iraq. Obama had opposed it, Hillary had voted for it. That gave him an enormous edge in the race. This is a different time. And so there isn’t that kind of galvanizing issue, particularly if Hillary comes out of the box, as I expect she will, talking very clearly about how to buttress the middle class, how to create greater opportunity, how to restore the value that says if you work hard in this country, you can get ahead.

Hewitt: I’m going to try a third time, though, but you’re the message guy. How does she capture what was, in my view, a completely achievement-free four years at the Department of State? How do you give me 30 seconds that avoids the reset button, the collapse in Egypt, the Libyan fiasco, the Syrian civil war, the drift with our relationship with Israel, the utter chaos that’s become America in the world? How does Hillary escape that anchor?

Axelrod: Well, she’ll make her case, Hugh, but as I said, I think there are lot if, there are number of other important advances that she had on her watch, which ended four years ago, that went to helping put together the international coalition in the midst of the financial crisis, putting together international coalitions around arms control, making sure that we had supply routes open so our troops could be resupplied in Afghanistan. There were a wide, you know, she dealt with a broad number of issues on which we had success. And you know, she’ll make that case. I do not believe, and you know, and I invite, you know, if folks on the other side want to try, they should. This race is not going to be about that.




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