[The 90’s Election Specials raw: David Axelrod #1]

Raw footage for The 90's election specials. This tape features an interview with political consultant David Axelrod, who talks about his work for the Al Hofeld and Bill Clinton campaigns.

00:00Copy video clip URL Color bars.

00:29Copy video clip URL Several framed newspaper front pages on a wall featuring Chicago mayors Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley, and Senator Paul Simon.

01:07Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of David Axelrod at his desk. The interviewers begin to ask Axelrod about the importance of the Illinois primary. Axelrod talks about the state’s importance in the election and refers to it as a “microcosm of the nation.” “I think whoever wins Illinois is going to vault into the lead and probably stay in the lead and win the nomination.” Axelrod then begins to talk about Clinton’s work in Illinois and believes that it will pay off.

02:45Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Axelrod about the media’s effect on presidential elections. Axelrod believes that the media isn’t as important as “momentum.” “There’s no question that the paid media is going to play a role and I think that to say otherwise would be foolish… The presidential race is covered so intensively by the news media that people get an awful lot of information without commercials and I think a lot of how Super Tuesday is covered and who’s pronounced the winner, and who has momentum and who doesn’t are going to be factor in what happens here in Illinois.”

03:47Copy video clip URL Axelrod talks about how Clinton can win in Illinois, and in the whole country, through his appeal to the African-American community, Southerners, and white ethnic voters. Axelrod also refers to Clinton’s opponent Senator Paul Tsongas as the “Wall Street Journal candidate.” Axelrod predicts from what regions Clinton will receive most of his votes. Axelrod goes on to talk about some of the economic issues that have specifically affected the state of Illinois. Axelrod thinks there is a lot of “economic anxiety” in the state.

08:20Copy video clip URL Axelrod talks about how he became a political consultant, first managing Paul Simon’s campaign for Senate and then starting a consulting business afterward. He goes on to talk about the tools he uses as a consultant. “All of the things that you do in a campaign in terms of field, in terms of kind of technical activity is basically what takes you in from the five yard line, but message is what gets you down the field… So you have to know from the beginning of the campaign what your opportunity is and you have to plan for a campaign as one would plan for a trial in a courtroom and you have to understand first of all what arguments are available to you and your opponent, what your comparative advantages are, and which ones are going to resonate with the jury, which in this case is made up of voters… I guess what you develop is a system, a kind of an unwritten system of evaluating every campaign and election and electorate to make those judgments.”

11:52Copy video clip URL Axelrod talks about the use of polling in campaigns. When campaigning, he says, one must look for the candidate’s favorability and how his or her arguments are reaching the electorate. “For a political consultant, a poll is a way of writing a road map to get from one place to the other, from wherever you are to 51% of the vote.” He then states that running a campaign without polls is like “flying a plane without any guidance system.” The interviewers go on to ask Axelrod about his work on Al Hofeld’s senatorial campaign against incumbent Alan Dixon and Carol Moseley Braun.

17:36Copy video clip URL Axelrod talks about Hofeld’s initial showing in the polls and their goal of getting 20% support in the race. Axelrod talks about the negativity in the campaign as well. Axelrod also states that he has to figure out what to do about Carol Moseley Braun in the campaign.

21:09Copy video clip URL When asked about commercial responses in the campaign, Axelrod states that it usually takes 24 hours to produce and distribute a response spot. Axelrod also thinks that Braun is benefiting from not being on television right now and compares her to an “endangered species” because of her lack of media coverage and criticism.

23:19Copy video clip URL Axelrod talks about the use of negative television ads in political campaigns. “There’s no question that voters are television-sensitive.” Axelrod states that television replaces precinct captains when candidates can afford to buy television time. Axelrod goes on to talk about his work for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign and states that he is the campaign’s “designated talker.” The interviewer eventually asks Axelrod if there has been too much media coverage of the campaign. Axelrod responds by saying that the volume of negative ads has not been too high.

28:50Copy video clip URL Axelrod talks about the coverage of the pro-choice issue on radio rather than television. Axelrod states that radio is more of a targeting tool while television is a nuclear weapon. Axelrod finds that the issue of choice and health insurance are cutting issues.

30:36Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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