David Axelrod Visits Webster, Discusses ‘Building Brand Obama’

| May 16, 2013

“A piece of cake,” was David Axelrod’s response to “How did you decide to help a bi-racial man with a Kenyan name run for president of the United States?”

His light-hearted comment set the tone as the former counsel to President Obama, gave an inside look at Obama’s 2008 run for president to a packed auditorium on May 10 as part of the Walker Speaker Series. Due to the large number of early registrations, the event originally scheduled for the Winfred Moore Auditorium was moved to the Community Music School Concert Hall to accommodate the anticipated crowd on the day before Webster’s 94th annual commencement.

Axelrod was interviewed on stage by Clifford Franklin, president and CEO of FUSE, an advertising agency based in St. Louis and the agency of record for the Obama for President campaign in 2008.

Benjamin Akande, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology; David Axelrod; and FUSE CEO Clifford Franklin

Axelrod said he believed Obama was the guy who could transcend race in America. “Voters are often looking for the antithesis — or remedy to — what they currently have.” He described putting together an Ocean’s 11 team of the best people to work on the campaign.

Franklin asked if he ever had any doubts about winning. “The whole thing was rather audacious, but I believe you need to seize the moment when it presents itself.”

Endearing himself to the St. Louis audience, Axelrod said one of his best on-the-job moments in the White House was calling St. Louis Cardinals baseball great Stan Musial to tell him he won the Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Asked about Obama’s legacy, Axelrod said in addition to being the first black president, he believes Obama will be appreciated for how he handled the economic crisis, including the Recovery Act, saving the auto industry and the health care bill.

“I was proud of being associated not only with breaking a racial barrier, but also the man who broke it,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod is now a senior political analyst appearing on NBC networks.

UPDATE: Watch video of Axelrod’s visit here, and view photos from the event on Flickr.

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Category: Featured, Webster Events

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