"Obama's Brain" Emerging As Unlikely Biden Critic

In case you haven't noticed, President Obama's former chief campaign strategist David Axelrod has been going hard at Joe Biden of late. Starting on Friday, Axelrod knocked Biden's "flip-flop-flip" over his longstanding support for the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions. 

To recap - in an embarrassing display of pandering, Biden told an ACLU activist in May that he would work to repeal the 1976 Hyde amendment - which he has supported for decades. His campaign then issued a statement on Wednesday, weeks later, claiming that he "misheard" the question, and that he still supports the Hyde amendment. Then, after his 2020 competitors jumped all over him for it - Biden flip-flopped again - announcing on Thursday that he no longer supports the legislation.

Axelrod was not impressed.  

"So that was a flip, flop, flip, which is never a good thing in politics and it raises questions about his own performance and his own steadiness and his campaign's performance. So this was not a good -- you know, beyond the issue itself, this was not a reassuring episode for the Biden campaign," Axelrod told CNN on Friday. 

On Sunday, Biden turned Axelrod off again after the former VP tweeted a photograph of a friendship bracelet which President Obama made for him in 2016 with the caption "Happy #BestFriendsDay to my friend, @BarackObama," to which Axelrod replied; "This is a joke, right?"

While Axelrod praised Biden in January as a "highly, highly competent guy" who was an enormous asset to President Obama, he told The New Yorker in February that the former Vice President - for which "age is a concern" - will "take up a lot of space" by entering the race, discouraging potentially better centrist-left candidates from running. 

The flip side of them is that they are very much establishment qualities, and the other flip side of them is it bespeaks a career that’s almost half a century along, and age is a concern that people have. I also think that the left will take aim at him if he gets in the race, because he is a more centrist Democrat with a long record. We heard some of it. But there’s no doubt that, at least on day one, he enters the race, he’s going to take up a lot of space. If he doesn’t enter the race, I think other people may. I think it’s more likely that Bloomberg would run if Biden didn’t run. You may see Mitch Landrieu come into the race if Biden doesn’t run. So he’s formidable, and there are more candidates in this race on the left than there are kind of center, center-left, and that is largely because Biden takes up a lot of space in this race. -The New Yorker

In April, Axelrod noted that Biden's "organizational challenges are real," adding "Part of it is he’s got a very close-knit group of advisers who tend to reflect him, and it’s a very bad thing when you’re running a national campaign to be so reliant on yourself and a group that reflects your strategic and tactical thinking. So, he’s going to have to broaden out that group."

It's as if Axelrod initially gave Biden a modicum of support, only to watch in horror as the DNC frontrunner fumbles the ball in slow motion. 

Axelrod's not the only one

On Friday, Fox News contributor and former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile said that Biden had a "terrible week" and that his campaign should heed the "early warning" signs as the 2020 race heats up

In addition to the Hyde Amendment 'flip-flop-flip,' Brazile called out Biden's plagiarism scandal over lifting language for his environmental plan word-for-word from environmental nonprofits without attribution

As we noted last week, Biden's 1988 presidential run went off the rails when it was revealed that he plagiarized speeches from a British labour party politician, which brought to light examples of Biden lifting material from other politicians without attribution, and an acknowledgement that he was also accused of plagiarism in law school. 

"The vice president really had a terrible week. When I say terrible, it's not catastrophic, he can recover," Brazile said on "America's Newsroom," adding "I believe this should give the Biden campaign some early warning that they need to steady themselves as they begin to focus on rolling out more policy decisions or making more changes to their previous positions." 

(H/T Josh Caplan)