Exit Interview: Axelrod’s Take on DNC 2012 and the Road Ahead

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The Charlotte airport was abuzz Friday, as David Axelrod, a senior Obama campaign advisor, was swarmed by out going Democratic delegates as they sought pictures with President Barack Obama’s key strategist.

Axelrod was pleased with the convention and believed they built a case for a second term for President Obama. He sat down with WNYC’s Bob Hennelly to talk about the convention and the economy, the issue that might be the biggest hurdle to re-election.

Did Democrats get done what they needed to here in Charlotte?

We had a great convention. We made a case, and all the speakers built that case. It’s a case most Americans can relate to — the need to rebuild our economy from the middle out, to do the things and make the investments necessary to build a strong foundation for the future, for a social policy that reflects the broad views of the American people not the extremes. I think it was a great convention from the stand point of leaving here with not just a unified message but with great energy.

Is there some sign President Obama's approach on the economy is getting traction?

I think as Americans focus on this choice, and understanding what it means — whether we move forward and make sound decisions about how to rebuild this economy or whether we go back to the policies before the crisis with large tax breaks for the wealthy  that we can't afford and budget busting policies that weaken the middle class and weaken our economy. People don't want to go back to that. So, I think as people will focus on this choice we are going to get stronger. It is going to be a close election but I believe we are making progress.

The clock is ticking on the fiscal cliff, with hundreds of billions of dollars in so called robo-cuts to the federal budget set to be made just months from now. If they go through is there a chance we could experience a double dip recession like happened after England made its public spending cuts?

Just look at the analysis Moody's did of the Republican program and that's just what they said. If we make these kinds of cuts, especially if we do it quickly, then you are going to throw the economy into reverse and we could go right back into recession. That's a big concern. We need a policy that promotes growth in the short term and lays a strong foundation for sustained growth in the future and that's what the president talked to.

In the last election, candidate Obama talked about making it harder for U.S. corporations to move their operations and jobs overseas. What's different this time?

First of all, we continue to have a difference with Republicans over this issue of taxation. They would move in the direction of allowing greater tax benefits for investments companies make overseas  We think the tax breaks should go to the companies that want to invest in the United States, so we have proposed breaks for companies that establish their operations here. The president has worked very hard to encourage companies to come back. Right now, the law allows for companies to write-off their expenses to move jobs and operations overseas. We think the benefits should be for companies who want to move their operations back into the U.S. We need a policy that matches our goals.

There was one subject Axelrod did not want to go on tape about: the omission of God and the reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital from the party platform. He said it was a mistake and confirmed that as soon as the president learned about the omission he told party officials to re-insert the language.