Axelrod knocks Clinton and Trump at Aurora University appearance

 
 
Updated 2/9/2017 10:00 PM
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  • CNN pundit and University of Chicago alumnus David Axelrod, left, shared his thoughts on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and his years as an adviser to Barack Obama in a public Q&A Thursday night with Chicago Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson at Aurora University Thursday.

      CNN pundit and University of Chicago alumnus David Axelrod, left, shared his thoughts on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and his years as an adviser to Barack Obama in a public Q&A Thursday night with Chicago Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson at Aurora University Thursday. James Fuller | Staff Photographer

  • David Axelrod, former senior adviser to the President Barack Obama, says Donald Trump won the White House by capitalizing on Hillary Clinton's failings.

    David Axelrod, former senior adviser to the President Barack Obama, says Donald Trump won the White House by capitalizing on Hillary Clinton's failings. Associated Press/Jan. 16

Donald Trump's ability to be authentic and a showman simultaneously is what won him the presidency. Hillary Clinton's inability to demonstrate either of those qualities is why she lost.

That analysis came from David Axelrod, one of the chief architects of Barack Obama's political rise, on Thursday night at Aurora University. Axelrod was equally critical of both Trump and Clinton as he sketched out what the next four years of American politics could look like before a packed auditorium.

Axelrod painted Clinton as having a big heart but an unwillingness to show it. He told a story of spending a day with Clinton at an epilepsy clinic and hearing her transform that experience into a fundraising speech for an epilepsy charity Axelrod and his wife founded.

"She put her prepared speech aside and talked about EEG lines becoming thicker and more violent as a seizure comes on and the terror a child must be feeling as they went through that," Axelrod recalled. "It was very powerful and impactful. And that's a big part of who Hillary Clinton is. Another part is someone who is very allergic to being revealing of herself. She is worried about the political consequences of that. Authenticity is a really big factor. The more authentic candidate almost always wins because (voters) want someone they feel is being straight with them.

"Whatever you think of Donald Trump, nobody ever says, 'I wish he would speak his mind.'"

Trump capitalized on that failing, Axelrod said, and stole a large part of the white, male, working class voter base because Clinton ran a campaign that relied on women, minorities and youth.

"She said we don't need you," Axelrod said. "It made Trump's job easy. His message to them was you're disrespected. I think (Clinton made) a big mistake."

Trump is now showing his own weaknesses, Axelrod said. Even his fellow Republicans will be willing to pounce on those mistakes, but only if Trump starts to lose popularity with a new base of GOP voters that many traditional Republicans have not yet come to understand.

"I think Republicans in Congress would be willing to put a boot to his butt and show him the door," Axelrod said. "They like Mike Pence better. But Donald Trump should not be underestimated. He is a major talent when it comes to media. If they put the boot to him prematurely, very likely they will get the boot put to them and find themselves with primary races.

"Part of what binds Republicans to him is commonality of interest. The other part is abject fear, fear of a base where (Trump) has more loyalty than they do."

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