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The Axe Files with David Axelrod
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The Axe Files with David Axelrod

Author: The Institute of Politics & CNN

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David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN bring you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.

607 Episodes
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Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi may have made history as the first woman elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives, but she made her reputation as an effective leader with a knack for building consensus and pushing landmark legislation across the finish line. She joined David live at Arizona State University to talk about the political skills she learned from her father, her work to pass the Affordable Care Act, her unfavorable opinion of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, why she wishes the Department of Justice would have moved faster on investigating January 6, 2021, and much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Sister Simone Campbell has never shied away from fighting for the underdog. Since childhood, she has looked for ways to assist those in need, a drive further fueled by the early loss of her sister to Hodgkin's lymphoma. Sister Simone joined David to talk about making a name for herself as an advocate for the Affordable Care Act, deciding to attend law school in addition to taking her vows as a Catholic nun, intertwining her faith with activism, and centering her faith in the present.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
This episode is a little different from the normal Axe Files. David sat down at Arizona State University with two legendary political strategists: Karl Rove, the architect of George W. Bush’s campaigns, and David Plouffe, David’s old partner and the brilliant manager behind the 2008 Barack Obama campaign. You can find their personal stories in past episodes of The Axe Files (Karl Rove episode #80, and David Plouffe episodes #43 and #418), but in this conversation, they talked about the Biden-Trump rematch, which they all agreed is the most unusual campaign of their lifetimes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Ep. 572 — Chris Christie

Ep. 572 — Chris Christie

2024-03-2101:05:02

Eight years ago, then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shook up the political world by dropping out of the race for president to endorse Donald Trump. Since the election of 2020 and the events that followed, including a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021, Christie has become one of Trump’s fiercest critics and unsuccessfully challenged him in this year’s primary elections. He talked with David about the arc of his journey from ally and advisor to outspoken foe. He discusses their ruptured relationship and offers fascinating insights into the now-thrice-nominated Trump and his capture of the Republican Party. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
This week, we're revisiting a conversation from the early days of The Axe Files, way back in 2015, featuring Alastair Campbell. He served as the communications guru for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Campbell, a prolific author and speaker, shares poignant insights into his own struggles with mental illness, in addition to delving into political matters. They explore various topics, including the emerging candidacy of Donald Trump, who was embarking on his unlikely journey to the presidency at the time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Ep. 571 – Michael Crow

Ep. 571 – Michael Crow

2024-03-0701:00:12

Last week, David sat down with Arizona State University’s celebrated president, Michael Crow. During their discussion, the two talked about Crow's remarkable personal journey, ASU's pioneering model for the new American public university, which emphasizes inclusivity in admissions and academic excellence, as well as innovative approaches to teaching and learning in the 21st century. They also delved into ASU's deep commitment to addressing local and global challenges, highlighting the university's significant impact on Arizona and beyond. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Last week, David sat down with Congressman Pete Aguilar of California, who serves as the chairman of the Democratic House Caucus and holds the distinction of being the highest-ranking Hispanic member in the U.S. House. They delved into Aguilar's remarkable personal journey, emblematic of the American dream, and addressed the gridlock gripping Congress, exacerbated by mounting crises concerning the budget, the border, and funding for Ukraine and Israel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Ep. 569 — Bill Bradley

Ep. 569 — Bill Bradley

2024-02-2201:00:02

Bill Bradley stands as a rare figure, achieving Hall of Fame status in both sports and politics. As a former New Jersey Senator and presidential candidate, Bradley's impact on public life spans decades. Before his esteemed political career, he left an enduring legacy in college basketball, the Olympics, and as a vital member of the historic early '70s New York Knicks. Throughout both careers Bill Bradley earned a reputation for thoughtful reflection. David sat down will Bill this week to talk about his documentary, his life, and lessons learned along the way. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
For over four decades, Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning luminary renowned for his insightful columns in The New York Times and a friend of The Axe Files, has been a steadfast voice delving into the intricate tapestry of the Middle East. His profound understanding of the region's nuances is unparalleled, making him an invaluable ally in navigating its tumultuous landscape. As the harrowing conflict in Gaza persists, David thought it was time to sit down for some wisdom from his old friend. With the omnipresent specter of social media threats and the ever-evolving challenges of modern diplomacy, their conversation couldn't be timelier. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Many individuals have two jobs, but none quite like Raphael Warnock. On most weekdays, he patrols the halls of Congress as the Senior Senator from the state of Georgia. However, he also holds the position of senior pastor at the storied Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Preaching from the same pulpit that his idol, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once graced—a man he shares much in common with. Last week, David sat down with Reverend Warnock, Senator Warnock, to discuss his extraordinary journey from the housing projects of Savannah to these esteemed positions, and how he utilizes his platform to further Dr. King's social justice mission. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Stephanie Murphy truly is a great American story. Born in Vietnam a few years after the war, she and her family fled tyranny and were rescued at sea by the U.S. Navy. Raised in a trailer park in Virginia, she worked her way through college and graduate school. Post 9/11, she became a young star at the Department of Defense, working as an analyst at the highest levels of the Pentagon. Later, she was elected to three terms in Congress where she stood out from the partisans, ideologues, and bloviators, earning a reputation as an earnest and incisive problem solver. In the end, however, Stephanie Murphy may be most remembered for her service on the fateful January 6th committee. She joined David to talk about all of this, and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jeff Zeleny is one of America's very best political reporters, with decades of experience covering national campaigns for the Des Moines Register, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, ABC, and CNN. David sat down with him the day of the New Hampshire primary to glean his insights into the current race. Their conversation also delved into Zeleny's personal journey – from his Nebraska farm childhood influencing his reporting to overcoming a lifelong speech impediment, establishing him as one of America's premier broadcast journalists. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Ep. 564 — John Miller

Ep. 564 — John Miller

2024-01-1801:06:16

John Miller has seen a lot. Born into the world of journalism as the son of a National Enquirer reporter, Miller's upbringing immersed him in a world of celebrities, club owners, mobsters, and law enforcement. Miller has spent his life toggling between television, journalism, and law enforcement. He has covered some of the most significant national security and crime stories in the past four decades, including a rare interview with Osama bin Laden. Miller has also served at the highest levels of the FBI, the nation's two largest police departments, and the office of the Director of National Intelligence. He joined David to discuss his expansive career and share his unique perspective on the intersections of crime, journalism, and national security. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Ep. 563 — Mick Mulvaney

Ep. 563 — Mick Mulvaney

2024-01-1101:01:43

Mick Mulvaney knows a lot about the central players in the Republican nominating drama. With a background as the former budget director and acting chief of staff to Donald Trump, Mulvaney played a crucial role in the political landscape. Serving in Congress alongside Ron DeSantis and co-founding the House Freedom Caucus, he offers a unique perspective on party dynamics. Sharing anecdotes from his time as a South Carolina legislator alongside state representative Nikki Haley, Mulvaney joins David in a reflective conversation on the current state of the Republican race and the twists and turns of his own political journey. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
This week The Axe Files team is sharing a special episode of Anderson Cooper’s extraordinary podcast All There Is. It’s a conversation about grief with President Joe Biden, who has faced more than his share in life. In it, he offers moving memories, lessons, and insights that are well worth hearing.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
This holiday season, we are revisiting a conversation from March 2017 with Madeleine Albright, the trailblazing American scholar, diplomat, and Secretary of State. She passed away in 2022, but her inspiring personal story and her extraordinary insights into this complicated world are timeless. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Before June 28th 2022, few Americans knew of Cassidy Hutchinson, the young former White House staffer. But that all changed that day when she appeared as a surprise star witness at a hastily called televised hearing of the House Select Committee on January 6th to share what she knew about the events leading up to and following the storming of Capitol Hill by a pro-trump mob. But her own life story is worth hearing and compellingly told in her new book “Enough”. Cassidy joined David to talk about her book, her time in the White House, her relationship with the Republican Party, and her life now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Although author Sara Paretsky grew up in Kansas, she said it was her summer in Chicago volunteering during the civil rights movement in 1966 that marked the “defining experience” on her life. Second wave feminism similarly influenced Sara, culminating in the creation of V.I. Warshawski, a stereotype-smashing, hardboiled, female private eye, who leads 22 of Sara’s crime novels. Sara joined David to talk about her family history, the recent rise in antisemitism, using her writing to give voice to the marginalized, the creation of V.I. Warshawski, and Sara’s work on abortion and women’s rights. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Ep. 560 — Tim Alberta

Ep. 560 — Tim Alberta

2023-12-0701:01:19

Journalist Tim Alberta grew up in the evangelical church and has watched with both concern and interest as some factions of the faith have changed over the years. Following the death of his pastor father, Tim decided to take a closer look at American evangelicalism. He published the book “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism” in December 2023. Tim joined David to talk about his new book, the profitability and politicization of the evangelical movement, the Moral Majority and the history of evangelical victimization, Donald Trump’s threat to religious freedom, and the real Nikki Haley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow always wanted to design cars. While that didn’t quite pan out—although she did spend some time working for Mattel on Hot Wheels—she has made a name for herself as a legislator after a speech she gave on the Michigan Senate floor rebuking GOP culture wars went viral in 2022. Sen. McMorrow joined David to talk about her Catholic upbringing rooted in service, her journey from industrial design to politics, the war in the Middle East and her disgust over politicization of human suffering, Michigan politics, and why she thinks Democrats need to prioritize good candidates at all levels of government. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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Comments (23)

Wright Joel

"The Audit" boys absolutely torched you for your dumb master class with the war criminal Karl Rove. You're just another talking pinhead in it for the cash.

Apr 28th
Reply

Jennifer MacKinnon

what a liar and a phony! unbelievable. yeah, sure Trump said walking the corridors of the White House was "humbling" This man is a robot...so mind-numbing boring and dishonest.

Dec 12th
Reply

Teddy

Enjoyed the interview. I have never been able to agree with Ms Cheney politics, but I do enjoy listening to her interviews. I know one thing, don't count her out.

Nov 1st
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Michael Brodie

An outstanding conversation

Sep 22nd
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Mae Arant

Never forgiven rabid Dems for not giving Franken the ethics investigation he deserved. There GOP hated Franken because he didn't play games and called them out directly every time - the Dems played right into their hands and we lost a great Senator.

Aug 25th
Reply

Jennifer MacKinnon

what a rat he was, no matter how he tries to tell it. a criminal.

Jul 17th
Reply

Chip Brady

Why would you want the waste your time and your listeners time with an interview of someone who is the embodiment of "alternative facts".

Jun 30th
Reply

Roland Riopelle

Loved it! Two smart guys talking through the world's intractable problems!

Feb 7th
Reply

Karluigi Marie

Fantastic episode! I really enjoyed listening to Fiona Hills knowledge and experience.

Nov 11th
Reply

Sherry Chase

0

Oct 25th
Reply

Sherry Chase

0

Oct 25th
Reply

gary fowler

Great interview. I'm always impressed when a white American can be honest about white apathy/disinterest regarding equity in the US. it has always been obvious we who live outside of the US. Nothing will change until campaign finance, Citizens United and gerrymandering are corrected.

Jun 26th
Reply

Nellie Fly

The ragin Cajun. I could listen to him read the phone book.

May 8th
Reply (1)

Paul Sorensen

This interview with Andrew Gillum is so uplifting and eye opening. I hope he gets a chance to become part of the 46th president's Whitehouse. His kind of innovative thinking is really needed. Thanks David Axelrod.

Mar 12th
Reply

Diane Grillo

Terrific episode! My head feels like a closet that needs organizing. Now you can enjoy a lighter moment trying to figure out what it is I'm trying to say! I firmly believe that Russia created the whole Vegas movement with Bernie just as they began the Trump movement. I don't know how they knew Americans were dumb enough to completely empty their refrigerators. Who in their right mind would want to implement a country changing system after 4 years of a madman deconstructing 200 years of American accomplishments? Why hasn't even one candidate spoken of the immediate need to rebuild our relationships around the world? Joe Biden is the man for that job. He is also the one with 40 years of fruendly DC relationships. We need to properly staff the WH, replace Ambassadors around the world, find and fix all the deregulations before we can't drink the water and we're all getting cancer from waste dumping again! And Bernie's concern is Medicare for all in a country of over 300 million that he com

Feb 24th
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Andy Weir

still a sore loser lol

Feb 16th
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Fraser Scantlebury

An excellent interview - heard more about Yang's programs here then on any other podcast/news report. Thanks to David and the crew for making this interview available for free.

Dec 7th
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fresh mannn

I want this person for President

Dec 7th
Reply

Andy Weir

sore loser

Mar 24th
Reply

Andres Fernandez G

excellent interview and exemplary carreer in the pursuit of understanding Russia

Jul 21st
Reply
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