From NBC's Danielle Weisberg
Today on "Andrea Mitchell Reports," White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod
commented on a private strategy memo he wrote days before Barack Obama decided to run for president. In the memo, Axelrod called into question some of his candidates' character traits and their adaptability to political success.
Despite his early concerns, Axelrod told NBC's Savannah Guthrie this afternoon (who was filling in for Mitchell), "At the end of the campaign, my questions were answered."
Axelrod initially questioned Obama's ability to take criticism, as Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson detail in their new book, The Battle for America 2008. "It goes to your willingness and ability to put up with something you have never experienced on a sustained basis: criticism... I don't know if you are Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson when it comes to taking a punch. You care far too much what is written and said about you."
Another quality Axelrod questioned was that of strength -- which he believed would be a deciding factor between Obama and Hillary Clinton in order to get a way from the issue of inexperience. "But the campaign itself also is a proving ground for strength," Axelrod said in his memo.
Today, speaking retrospectively, Axelrod came back to the theme of strength. "It was a revelation to see him dealing with the pressures of the campaign... It was a great proving ground. I learned a lot about him and I think he may have learned about himself," Axelrod said.
Balz and Johnson raise an interesting point as they contrast Axelrod's correct judgment that the campaign would be a showcase for Obama to demonstrate strength with his current demands. "Now, as Obama grapples with the huge demands of his presidency, the question is whether the experience of the campaign provides a reliable indicator of his performance as chief executive."