AP/Eric Gay President Barack Obama at a presidential debate at the University of Denver. President Barack Obama stunned David Axelrod, one of Obama’s top campaign advisers, during the 2012 election when the president allegedly cussed at him and walked out of their debate-prep session. Axelrod told the story in his new book, “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.”
Axelrod wrote that he attempted to offer some constructive criticism before Obama’s first debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but Obama wouldn’t have it.
“Mother—–r’s never happy,” Obama said, according to Axelrod, before bolting out of the room.
“That was a first,” Axelrod wrote. “Obama and I had been working together for a decade, through some pretty hairy moments, but he had never before lost his temper in this fashion. He certainly never attacked me so harshly, especially in front of others.”
That first debate would ultimately be a disaster for Obama. Romney repeatedly put the president on the defensive and introduced himself to the American public as a much more likable guy than his infamous “47%” gaffe had led them to believe. A postdebate poll found 67% of viewersthought Romney had won.
Axelrod suggested Obama’s irritation with him was actually the president’s frustrations with his own poor preparation for the debate.
“My sense was that the president knew he wasn’t ready,” he wrote. “His mind-set, his reluctance to embrace the game, had been wrongheaded from the start, and now it was clearly hurting him.”