No, I don’t mean the more than eight million people who are now signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (although that is very exciting in and of itself).
I was referring to these two chaps:
David Axelrod (left) and Jim Messina (right) are both long-term strategists for President Obama (also pictured), and have been life-long Democrats throughout their careers.
Jim Messina, having worked on Democratic election campaigns since the early 1990s, served as Barack Obama’s first Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations from the president’s inauguration until January 2011 when he stepped aside to focus on his new role as Obama’s campaign manager for his successful re-election bid. Messina is now Chairman of the non-profit political action group Organizing for America, previously an explicit Obama campaign vehicle, which directly advocates the agenda of President Obama (and, subsequently, the Democratic Party). Messina is also co-chair, along with wildly popular former Democratic Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm, of super PAC Priorities USA Action which has positioned itself as a fundraiser for a potential Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential bid, and is putting all of the connections from when Priorities USA was a financing vehicle for Obama’s 2012 re-election to good use.
David Axelrod’s time with the Democrats goes back even further; he worked on campaigns during the Reagan era in the mid-1980s through to the present day. Some of the more well-known candidates he has served, in one position or another, are Richard M. Daley (Mayor of Chicago 1989-2011), John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign, former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, Deval Patrick (the Democrat who took over from Mitt Romney as Governor of Massachusetts), Rahm Emanuel (Mayor Daley’s successor from 2011 onwards and President Obama’s first White House Chief of Staff as well as Jim Messina’s boss) and, of course, Barack Obama himself. Axelrod has known Obama for over two decades but came to the front as the then-Senator’s chief strategist and media advisor for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign; he then moved into Karl Rove’s old job as a Senior Advisor to the President before taking on the role of Obama’s chief campaign strategist for his 2012 re-election campaign.
It was announced on Thursday that David Axelrod will be advising opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (pictured left) in the run-up to the UK 2015 General Election as a senior strategic consultant. This follows the news from August last year that the incumbent majority party, the Conservatives, had appointed Jim Messina as a campaign strategy advisor to lead them into the same election cycle. At the time, Messina was quoted as saying “I have long admired Prime Minister Cameron. While I will not be moving to London, nor will I be managing any type of day to day political operations, I will be offering strategic campaign advice leading up to 2015“. David Axelrod seems to have said very similar things: that he had been struck by the power of the Labour leader’s ideas and the “strength of his vision“, as well as Miliband’s similarities with Obama in the “experience of everyday people“. This comes off the back of a recent poll which found that nearly half of voters find Ed Miliband to be very weird or somewhat weird (in a survey by YouGov), with David Cameron being given the same characteristic by less than a third of those surveyed (27%). This has been followed by more bad news for the Labour leader over the economy, which is continuing to recover apace.
Whilst some might think that Conservatives are natural allies of the Republican Party, I argued the opposite in a recent article over at Politically Inclined entitled ‘The Disappearance of Transatlantic Conservatism‘. All three mainstream UK parties are a lot closer to the Democrats than they are to the Republicans (UKIP is probably the exception). There’s a lot to be said for both Messina and Axelrod; both are veteran campaigners, and both picked a winner in Obama. David Axelrod has picked his losers in the past.. most notably John Edwards in 2004. When asked about Edwards’ failed 2004 presidential campaign, Axelrod commented, “I have a whole lot of respect for John, but at some point the candidate has to close the deal and – I can’t tell you why – that never happened with John“. That seems to be exactly Ed Miliband’s ongoing problem..