Axelrod says it’s ‘overreacting’ to say he told Biden to end 2024 campaign
Democratic strategist David Axelrod played down comments he made Monday that implied President Biden should drop out of the 2024 race.
“It’s overreacting to say I told him to drop out,” the senior Obama adviser told Politico on Tuesday. “I didn’t do that.”
“He’s the only one to make the decision. And if his decision is, ‘No, I’m the best person to take this on,’ then he will,” he added.
Axelrod sent a dire warning to the president Monday, saying poor polling numbers “will send tremors of doubt thru the party.”
A New York Times/Siena College poll released over the weekend showed Biden losing nearly every swing state to former President Trump by significant margins if an election were to be held now. The polling sent shockwaves through Democratic circles.
Axelrod has previously raised concerns about Biden’s age being a major factor in 2024, and he said the polls would cause “Not ‘bed-wetting,’ but legitimate concern.”
“If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it’s in HIS best interest or the country’s?” he said Monday.
Axelrod’s criticism garnered pushback from figures near the president, including Biden’s former chief of staff Ron Klain.
“Man who called Biden ‘Mr Magoo’ in Aug 2019 is still at it,” Klain wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Biden’s low favorability ratings among voters have seen little improvement despite a surprisingly strong economy and slowing inflation. He also faces a mounting foreign policy challenge with the Israel-Hamas war, which has divided Democrats.
Biden’s age has also stayed in the spotlight, especially as the president faces a new primary challenger in Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who is 26 years his junior.
But those close to the president have attempted to downplay the significance of polling so far before an election and have focused on comparing Biden to his likely opponent, Trump.
“Two things can be true: One, the polls are concerning, yes. It’s hard to say the sky is red when it’s blue, right? It’s a bad poll. But polls are a report card … for this moment in time. The grade you get today does not mean it’s the grade you’re going to get next week or next year,” Michael LaRosa, a former aide to first lady Jill Biden, said on CNN.
The president’s campaign pointed to better-than-expected Democratic midterm election results and increased expectations for 2023’s races as positive signs for his candidacy.
“Coming off those historic midterms, President Biden’s campaign is hard at work reaching and mobilizing our diverse, winning coalition of voters one year out on the choice between our winning, popular agenda and MAGA Republicans’ unpopular extremism,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said.
“We’ll win in 2024 by putting our heads down and doing the work, not by fretting about a poll.”