"His state of mind is very positive," Axelrod told Katie Couric. "He understands how profound the problems are that we're inheriting here, and that we have a tough row to hoe, but he's fundamentally optimistic about it and he's eager to go. All during the campaign, when the problems were welling up, that we knew we would have to handle if he won, he would say, 'Look, if you're going to be president, do it when it counts.' And I think he is eager to get going."
Couric then asked how much pressure Mr. Obama is feeling about his Inaugural speech.
"Obviously, everybody feels a bit of nervousness when they have to give the most important speech of their life, but I think he is very confident about it because he knows what he wants to communicate to the American people," Axelrod said. "He sat down last weekend and essentially wrote this speech, and I think he feels that he's saying what needs to be said, and he's saying it how he wants to say it. So I don't detect great nervousness about it. Some butterflies, but he is, I think, eager to give the speech and talk to the country about where we are, and about who we are, and what we need to do to move forward."
Axelrod said Mr. Obama's speech will speak to the fact that the American people are both optimistic and realistic.
"He'll speak to the profound problems we have, and how we got here, and he'll talk about how we come out of it, and how we come out of it is to draw on that fundamental sense of responsibility, of shared responsibility, that has been the history of this country whenever we've faced great trials," he said. "You call it a balancing act, and I think he'll achieve that."
"I love the guy," Axelrod added. "He is at once an extraordinary guy and an ordinary guy. He he's got gifts beyond anybody I've ever known, but he is also a very decent, down to earth person. I'm happy for him, but I'm proud of our country as well. To see all of these people streaming here today with a sense of real investment is just a reaffirmation of these ideals that have made us the envy of the world for two centuries … and the fact that he has helped unleash some of that, it's just an extraordinary thing to be a part of it, and I'm grateful to be here."