Aide to fo­cus on Obama re­elec­tion

Top ad­vi­sor David Ax­el­rod will leave the White House in 2011 and re­turn to Chicago.

Los Angeles Times - - The Nation - Peter Ni­cholas re­port­ing from washington

David Ax­el­rod, a top ad­vi­sor to Pres­i­dent Obama and the main ar­chi­tect of his elec­tion vic­tory in 2008, will leave the White House next year and re­turn to Chicago to work on the pres­i­dent’s re­elec­tion cam­paign, a White House aide said Thurs­day.

Ax­el­rod has not spec­i­fied a de­par­ture date, but he plans to re­main in his cur­rent po­si­tion “well into 2011,” the aide said.

Ax­el­rod, who calls him­self a “Chicagoan on as­sign­ment,” has long made it clear that he misses his home­town and will re­turn be­fore the end of Obama’s four-year term. His wife still lives in Chicago.

His port­fo­lio is a broad one. He shapes the pres­i­dent’s mes­sage, over­sees the speech­writ­ing team, plots po­lit­i­cal strat­egy and ad­vises on pol­icy. A long­time cam­paign strate­gist, he is aware of his lim­i­ta­tions when it comes to com­plex pol­icy mat­ters. He once made a self-dep­re­cat­ing ref­er­ence to him­self as “a duffer” when it comes to pol­icy.

Other White House aides said part of Ax­el­rod’s role was re­mind­ing the staff of the pres­i­dent’s cam­paign com­mit­ments and mak­ing sure that the White House agenda stayed true to Obama’s prom­ises.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a prag­ma­tist when it comes to pol­icy mat­ters, once de­scribed the dif­fer­ence be­tween him­self and Ax­el­rod as “prose” ver­sus “po­etry.”

Obama’s po­lit­i­cal vi­a­bil­ity, though, is one of Ax­el­rod’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tions. Steven Rat­tner, the for­mer “car czar” and author of a new book about the auto in­dus­try bailout, de­scribed Ax­el­rod as sit­ting in meet­ings dis­cussing poll re­sults show­ing the pub­lic’s dis­dain for bailouts.

The seven-mem­ber White House speech­writ­ing team has de­scribed its daily con­fer­ences with Ax­el­rod as a loose, cre­ative ex­er­cise that is a high point in the day. But other ad­min­is­tra­tion fig­ures are not so taken with Ax­el­rod.

In the new book “Obama’s Wars,” author Bob Wood­ward wrote that Army Gen. David H. Pe­traeus, who is lead­ing the war in Afghanistan, once called Ax­el­rod “a com­plete spin doc­tor.” peter.ni­cholas @latimes.com

Joshua Roberts

NEW TASK: David Ax­el­rod was the main ar­chi­tect of Pres­i­dent Obama’s elec­tion vic­tory in 2008.

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