Ex-Obama aide Axelrod: Warren an emerging 'Yes We Can' candidate

Former Obama aide and Democratic strategist David AxelrodDavid AxelrodKrystal Ball: Patrick's 2020 bid is particularly 'troublesome' for Warren David Axelrod: Bloomberg entry 'not exactly a vote of confidence' in Biden Trump thanks Reid for warning Democrats not to underestimate him MORE is praising Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE's presidential campaign, touting the Massachusetts Democrat as an emerging "Yes We Can" candidate for 2020.

Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser to former President Obama in the White House and worked as a chief strategist on his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, penned an opinion piece late Friday lauding Warren's performance in the second round of Democratic debates earlier this week in Detroit.

Warren "is running a strategically brilliant campaign," and "more than any other candidate, she has a clear, unambiguous message that is thoroughly integrated with her biography," Axelrod wrote in his piece for CNN, where he serves as a senior political commentator.

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Axelrod said that "Warren has put critics of her grand plans on the defensive in much the same way Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race Political purity tests are for losers Deportations lower under Trump administration than Obama: report MORE put Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats ask judge for quick ruling on McGahn subpoena Hillary Clinton: 'Every day Stephen Miller remains in the White House is an emergency' The Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race MORE on the defensive in 2008, when she argued that Obama's plans were fantastical in the real world of Washington."

"A big aspirational message is more satisfying than a cramped, political one. Warren is positioning herself as Big Change versus the status quo. Yes We Can versus No We Can't," he added.

The Massachusetts senator appeared alongside Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Sanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE (I-Vt.) in the first of two back-to-back Democratic presidential debates this week that featured a total of 20 candidates. The race's front-runner, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE, appeared alongside Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris endorses Christy Smith in bid to fill Katie Hill's seat Poll: Biden holds 11-point lead over Warren in Arizona Poll: Biden and Warren are neck and neck in California MORE (D-Calif.) on the second night.

Warren and Sanders, who are battling to shore up support among progressives in the party, teamed up in the debate Tuesday night to push back against an onslaught of attacks from more moderate candidates who argued that many of the senators' proposals on issues such as health care and the economy would spell electoral doom for Democrats as they seek to defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE next year.

At one point in the debate, Warren slammed those who might dismiss the proposals being advocated by the progressives on stage, saying, "I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn't fight for."

Axelrod argued Friday that Warren's "unsparing critique of corporate excess and her expansive -- and expensive -- agenda for change mirror those of the reigning left champion, Bernie Sanders, in places" but added that "Warren seems fresher, deeper and more precise in her execution."

"I don't know if Elizabeth Warren will win the nomination. Her sometimes professorial style can be off-putting and she has yet to break through with the white working class voters with whom Biden and Sanders are doing well," he added later.

"Moreover, there are legitimate critiques of her policy on substantive and not just political grounds. But it is going to take more than what we saw on either stage this week to win that battle," he said. "Warren has a theory of the case and is prosecuting it very skillfully."