Thursday’s overwhelming victory for Britain’s Conservative Party proved the second major international disappointment of 2015 for former President Barack Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod.
Axelrod served as a special adviser to the Labour Party’s failed campaign, whose embarrassing rout led to party leader Ed Miliband’s resignation Friday morning. Obama’s 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina was also involved in the election — on the side of Labour’s Conservative rivals. (RELATED: Conservative Britain Crushed The Competition In The UK Election)
According to Politico, Axelrod admitted he had only been to the U.K. “half a dozen times” since being hired by Labour for a reported fee of £300,000 (over $450,000).
The Chicagoan found the grace on Twitter to congratulate his ex-colleague on facilitating a “resounding Conservative victory,” and to say he’d “never seen as stark a failure of polling” as the forecasts which predicted a much tougher climb for Cameron.
Obama campaign alumni have been directly or implicitly involved with a number of campaigns abroad, often supporting candidates who hope to unseat American allies. This trend is at odds with the close relationship that they maintain with Obama and his personal brand, even after they leave public service and return to work as private political consultants.
Thursday’s debacle was not Axelrod’s first foray into international electoral politics this year — or into making snap judgments on Twitter. While he was not directly involved, Israeli supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party have accused Axelrod and other Obama alumni of interfering in the March 2015 election that won Netanyahu another turn as prime minister. Jeremy Bird, Obama’s national field director in 2012, did contribute the resources of his firm 270 Strategies to a grassroots campaign aiming to unseat Netanyahu. (RELATED: Netanyahu Forms Ruling Coalition Less Than 2 HOURS Before Deadline)
Regardless of Axelrod’s involvement in the campaign, he took to Twitter just after Netanyahu’s re-election in order to criticize the prime minister’s “shameful 11th hour demagoguery,” referring to a speech halfway through election day in which Netanyahu claimed turnout among Arab-Israeli voters was unusually high. In an interview, Axelrod also said Netanyahu “mortgaged the future” by pledging to block the two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution that he had worked for years to create.
Since Obama’s second presidential campaign, Axelrod has served as a consultant in several other foreign elections. His firm, AKPD, helped consult for Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress in March’s tightly contested Nigerian election, in which the APC ultimately won the presidency.
The influx of former top Obama staffers to foreign campaigns is reminiscent of another prominent transfer of resources between U.S. and U.K. campaign apparatuses. Several major political strategists for President Bill Clinton worked for the Labour Party during the tenure of Prime Minister Tony Blair, beginning with his first run for the country’s top post in 1997.
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