By Quinton R. Arthur
On Feb. 4, the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation hosted a lecture with David Axelrod, a political columnist most famously known for being the campaign consultant and senior advisor to President Barack Obama. The event was held in the Murray Green Library.
Axelrod remembered that his passion for politics was first sparked as a child, when he got an opportunity to hear then Democratic party political candidate John F. Kennedy speak live.
When talking about the city, Axelrod expressed his reasoning behind choosing to attend the University of Chicago while pursuing his higher education. What really made his decision was the fact that Chicago was a great city for politics.
“This was a great political town, home of the last big city machines,” Axelrod stated. “Around the time I arrived, there was a budding black political man, who I helped out.”
Axelrod referred to his role in helping Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor and RU alum, get re-elected in the 1987 mayoral campaign. Utilizing that experience, Axelrod began to help similar campaigns for other campaigns for blacks. This path would lead him to establish a historic campaign for the first black president of the United States.
Fondly telling the story to the audience, Axelrod remembers being introduced to future President Obama in 1992, and believing there was something special about him. Though the difficulty of making Obama a viable candidate was a tremendous task, the campaign led by Axelrod proved successful in the 2008 Presidential l Election.
Axelrod shared a touching story on healthcare: his daughter suffered seizures for 19 years, and medical expenses were too high to manage it. When President Obama mentioned a health care reform, Axelrod was doubtful of its success.
“Seven presidents tried, and seven presidents failed,” he says. “I’m glad he did not listen to me. I remember going to my office when it [the Affordable Care Act] was announced and crying. Other families would not have to go through what my family went through.”
At the end of the lecture, audience members were welcomed to ask questions at the end of the lecture. Many of the questions were aimed at Axelrod’s opinions of the current campaign for president.
“He [Axelrod] was a dynamic speaker, very engaging in political rhetoric,” said political science major Michael Sinwelski.
Axelrod signed and gave copies of his new book “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics” at the event.