As the Republican presidential campaign turned its focus on Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., this week, former White House senior adviser David Axelrod indicated Tuesday the Obama campaign's focus is on former Massachusetts governor and repeat candidate Mitt Romney.
Referring to Romney as the "favorite," Axelrod, who is now working on President Obama's re-election campaign, said he could see a scenario in which Bachmann wins the Iowa primary, Romney wins the New Hampshire primary and the two run-off for the nomination.
Unlike 2008, he sees two new primaries within the Republican Party-- the Tea Party's and, what he calls, the "Martini Party's."
Speaking at the Aspen Institute and the Atlantic's annual Ideas Festival in Colorado, Axelrod said candidates like Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain are vying for Tea Party support, while Romney holds court within the Martini Party -- though joked he couldn't confirm that the Mormon has ever drank a martini. He did not say whether it made for a more attractive candidate, but characterized Pawlenty as a "hybrid" between these two parties.
Axelrod indicated that Mr. Obama's re-election campaign was "surprised" that Huntsman, who served in the Obama administration, emerged as a candidate because as ambassador to China, he was "effusive" in support of the president.
This kind of unpredictability pervades the current GOP field according to Axelrod, who made these remarks on a panel at the festival.
As for his own candidate, Axelrod said he knows Mr. Obama is confident in his decisions and that history will judge his first term, not the "ten-minute news cycle," a sentiment echoed by Obama loyalists both in the White House and on the campaign.
He concedes there is energy behind the Tea Party, but said the effects on Romney in a primary and the president in a general election are yet to be seen.