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David Axelrod: Biden 'Mr. Magooing his way' through Democratic primary

CNN political commentator David AxelrodDavid AxelrodBiden faces monumental task healing divided country Biden leans on foreign policy establishment to build team Biden rolls out national security team MORE, a former chief campaign strategist for former President Obama, on Wednesday described former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Should deficits matter any more? Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE as "Mr. Magooing his way through" the 2020 Democratic primary while speaking in a panel discussion on the network following the Democratic debate from Atlanta.

"Biden. I wouldn't say he was a house of fire in any of the debates that we've been to," Axelrod said of the top-tier Democratic hopeful's debate performances.

"And yet he comes, kind of bumps along, kind of Mr. Magooing his way through this," he added, referring to the popular cartoon character known for being nearly blind.

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"You keep worrying he's going to hit a wall, but he's moving forward," he added.

Following some laughter from the panel, Axelrod continued, saying that if the former vice president can survive tough early tests in Iowa and New Hampshire, he could do really well in the next round of primaries.

"Obviously, he's losing some altitude in Iowa, New Hampshire, that should be concerning to him," the host of "The Axe Files" said. "But if he can survive those states because of his strong support in the African American community and because he has a cultural kinship with working-class whites, non-college whites, you know, he has a play here."

Biden raised eyebrows during a few of his answers in Wednesday's debate that was co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post. He faced particular scrutiny for one of his answers on the topic of domestic violence. 

"No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman in anger other than in self-defense, and that rarely ever occurs," said Biden. "So we have to just change the culture, period, and keep punching at it and punching at it. No, I really mean it." 

Biden also touted his ability to get the black vote, claiming to have the endorsement of the only black woman elected to the Senate, which was quickly rebuffed by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Vice President Harris receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine MORE (D-Calif.), who was standing on the stage with Biden.

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“I’m part of that Obama coalition,” Biden said. “I come out of the black community, in terms of my support. If you notice, I have more people supporting me in the black community that have announced for me, because they know me, they know who I am. Three former chairs of the Black Caucus, the only African American woman that has ever been elected to the United States Senate. A whole range of people.”

Biden then clarified that he meant the first black woman to be elected to the Senate.

Biden has remained at the top or near the top of most polls since announcing his 2020 bid.

He currently leads the RealClearPolitics average of polls by 12.7 points over Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief Tim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat MORE (D-Mass), with 30.7 percent support. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWhat the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Business groups prepare for lobbying push against minimum wage Schumer: Senate could pave way for reconciliation on COVID relief next week MORE (I-Vt.) is in third with 16.7 percent support.

No other candidate is in the double digits.