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

CNN political commentator David AxelrodDavid AxelrodThe Memo: Democrats vent frustration with Biden on Afghanistan Psaki dismisses Axelrod's criticism of Biden on Afghanistan Axelrod says Biden should have 'embraced' failures of Afghanistan exit MORE, a former chief campaign strategist for former President Obama, on Wednesday described former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system 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 HarrisTwo 'View' hosts test positive for coronavirus ahead of Harris interview Rep. Karen Bass to run for mayor of Los Angeles: report Biden taps big bank skeptic to for top regulatory post 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 WarrenIn Washington, the road almost never taken Senate poised to battle over Biden's pick of big bank critic Treasury says more rental aid is reaching tenants, preventing evictions MORE (D-Mass), with 30.7 percent support. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn Washington, the road almost never taken Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (I-Vt.) is in third with 16.7 percent support.

No other candidate is in the double digits.