Axelrod says Trump a ‘formidable’ candidate, Biden and campaign ‘need to get into gear’

Axelrod says Trump a ‘formidable’ candidate, Biden and campaign ‘need to get into gear’

David Axelrod, former President Obama’s senior adviser, said Tuesday that President Biden’s reelection campaign has to “get into gear” in order to beat former President Trump, arguing its messaging needs to go beyond that Trump is a threat to democracy.

“The president and his campaign need to get into gear and they need a message. And they need a message that takes in not just democracy but the day-to-day concerns that people have,” Axelrod said on CNN.

He added that the Biden campaign should be “happy” that Trump is likely the Republican nominee so they can start attacking the former president ahead of an expected rematch.

“It’s going to be Biden versus Trump. And so, begin to draw those parallels not just on democracy, but on issues that are important day-to-day in people’s lives,” Axelrod said.

Former Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield, who was on the CNN panel with Axelrod, replied that while the messaging from the Biden campaign has to be broader, voters are motivated by Biden talking about democracy.

“I’m not suggesting he doesn’t have talking points in his record that will support a message, but just let’s all be aware — and Trump proved again yesterday — he is not a normal candidate and he is a pretty formidable candidate. And now he’s on the ballot,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod was on CNN the morning after the Iowa caucus results that were an emphatic win for Trump by roughly 30 points.

Axelrod has for months warned about Biden’s poor marks in major polls against Trump and has called out challenges for the incumbent.

He suggested in November that it was the “last moment” for Biden to check if he should drop out and said last week that it’s unhelpful to dismiss Biden’s polling; his campaign has largely responded to negative polling by saying that polls this far out from Election Day typically aren’t predictive of voters in November.

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