David Axelrod says Biden not benefiting from Democratic legislative wins because they seem like ‘compromises’

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David Axelrod, former senior adviser to Barack Obama, said Wednesday that President Biden wasn’t benefiting from Democratic legislative accomplishments because of the high expectations the president set and the fact that Biden is “not stellar” while on camera. 

On CNN’s New Day, anchors Brianna Keliar and John Avalon asked Axelrod about multiple bills that passed through Congress recently, such as the CHIPS act, and why the president didn’t seem to be benefiting from the party’s accomplishments. 

“How come you think this has not benefited Joe Biden in the polls? It shows you can govern from the center, there is some indication of progress, but he’s under 40%. Where is that disconnect?” Avalon asked. 

Axelrod said there were three reasons for the disconnect. 

CNN's Brianna Keilar and John Avalon sit down with David Axelrod. 

CNN’s Brianna Keilar and John Avalon sit down with David Axelrod. 

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“The first is the aforementioned economy, the fact that we have this huge problem with inflation has colored people’s attitudes about the direction of the country. The second is he himself and his administration set such high expectations, the New New Deal, the new FDR and so on, that really sizable accomplishments now seem like compromises that are less than they really are,” Axelrod said. 

He said the third reason was “performative.”

“It is not about performance in office. It is about performance in front of the camera. And, you know, the president is not stellar in front of cameras now. He appears old to a lot of people. That has hurt him. But the fact is the record is really, really impressive,” he continued. 

Democratic lawmakers and members of the media have expressed concern for Biden’s age looking toward 2024. 

David Axelrod appears on CNN's "New Day" to talk legislative accomplishments.

David Axelrod appears on CNN’s "New Day" to talk legislative accomplishments. (Screenshot/CNN/NewDay)

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Axelrod previously told the New York Times in June that Biden’s age would be an issue going into 2024.  

“The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue,” Axelrod told the outlet. 

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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He similarly told the Times that Biden’s issue was performance. 

“Biden doesn’t get the credit he deserves for steering the country through the worst of the pandemic, passing historic legislation, pulling the NATO alliance together against Russian aggression and restoring decency and decorum to the White House. And part of the reason he doesn’t is performative. He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality,” Axelrod observed.