Axelrod quips irritate Clintonland

David Axelrod, the former top strategist to President Obama, has been annoying Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPoll: Majority of GOP voters wish they chose another presidential nominee Trump campaign CEO met with ex-Carter adviser Trump surrogate apologizes for tweeting cartoon of Clinton in blackface MORE allies with his rash of recent comments about the would-be presidential candidate and her potential campaign. 

The staunch Clinton supporters feel as though Axelrod, who is promoting his new book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, has taken unnecessary aim at Clinton and her team.

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“It's not helpful, and it's definitely not appreciated,” said one Clinton ally. “The last thing we need is another round of headlines about lingering tension, and this is doing exactly that.

“When he speaks, it gets picked up, and people listen,” the ally added.

Another supporter added: “I think a lot of us are scratching our heads. Why is any of that necessary?” A third added, "She's been a great team player, she's been very supportive of the president and she hasn't gotten in front of him on a lot of issues so what's he trying to do?"

Axelrod did not respond to a request for comment.

It hasn’t just been one or two comments or a rare, accidental slip up, Clinton insiders point out. It seems as though Axelrod is going out of his way to make a point.

On MSNBC's “Hardball” earlier this week, Axelrod said John Podesta, who is expected to be Clinton’s campaign chairman in the coming months, “has to get control of the Clinton operation.”

In a radio podcast with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, he said Clinton's paid six-figure speeches may have hurt her chances in 2016 and that he would have advised her to take a different approach.

Even his book reveals what Axelrod wrote to Obama in a memo about Clinton before the two went head-to-head in the grueling 2008 Democratic primary.

“…For all her advantages, she is not a healing figure,” Axelrod wrote in a 12-page strategic memo to Obama in late 2006, “The more she tries to moderate her image, the more she … compounds her exposure as an opportunist.”

It’s not as though Axelrod is a stranger to Clinton. The two have known each other for well over a decade. She had spoken at Axelrod’s first annual fundraising dinner for CURE, the epilepsy charity he launched with his wife, Susan. Clinton also thanked Axelrod in the acknowledgements of her tome Living History. But tensions between the two rose during the 2008 Democratic primary.

And after the primary came to an end and Obama suggested Clinton for secretary of State job, it was Axelrod who wondered aloud, “How can this work?” according to the book HRC, State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton. “We just had this very vigorous campaign.”

Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, said Axelrod’s recent comments are simply part of an effort to “peddle books.” But at the same time, Jillson questioned why the opinions have to be voiced publicly for all to witness.

“Why would you be undercutting your party’s next candidate?” he asked. “If you have something to say, call up people like Podesta and tell him what you think.”

“You don’t want this out there if you can avoid it,” Jillson added.

But the criticism of Clintonland didn't just start recently. 

In December, he said he thought Clinton lacked a campaign message. “What happened in 2008 was that Hillary's candidacy got out in front of any rationale for it and the danger is that it's happening again. You hear 'Ready for Hillary; it's like 'Ready for what?” He said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. 

Over the summer, Axelrod hit back at Clinton, after the former secretary of State criticized Obama's foreign policy. 

“Just to clarify, ‘Don't do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision,” Axelrod wrote on Twitter. 

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, said it’s obvious that Axelrod isn’t using White House talking points while promoting his book. Lehane pointed to the differing views Axelrod had when discussing Obama’s views on gay marriage in the book and in subsequent media interviews.

After Axelrod wrote in his book that Obama reluctantly followed his advice to not support gay marriage for fear of angering African American religious leaders, Obama claimed in an interview with BuzzFeed that, “the notion that somehow I was always in favor of marriage per se isn’t quite accurate.” 

He went on to say that his former adviser was “mixing up my personal feelings with my position on the issue.

As for the digs on Clinton, Lehane said it’s all irrelevant and won’t have any effect on a campaign.

“At the end of the day, it’s like the conversation that takes place before the Super Bowl,” Lehane said. “It’s fun to talk about, it eats up inches but once kickoff begins, it’s all moot.”

If Axelrod frustrated Clinton allies with his recent comments though, he also might have helped to ease the ongoing chatter that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a darling with progressives, could beat Clinton in a primary. 

“I have high regard for Elizabeth. I don’t think she would beat her,” Axelrod said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, the prominent conservative radio talk show host. “Look, look at the polling … Hillary is probably as well-positioned within her own party as any open seat candidate has been in our lifetime.”