WASHINGTON, Minn., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- David Axelrod, President Obama's political strategist, heads to Chicago to rev up Obama's re-election operation -- but first, some down time, he said.
Axelrod and other members of the Obama team said moving campaign activities physically out of Washington will reduce Washington's influence on campaign decisions -- and the appearance that the lines between politics and policy are blurred -- allowing the operation to focus on voters' values, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Axelrod, 55, blamed himself for some of the communications failures of the Obama White House, notably the early debate on healthcare reform when Obama sometimes seemed struggle with his message and failed to give a clear idea of his goals and why the legislation was needed.
"There were a lot of days when we asked him to go out and do fairly prosaic things at times," Axelrod said, "and we sort of squandered the platform. I regret that."
Leaving the White House was bittersweet, he told the Tribune.
"My experience in this business is that sometimes you're even more appreciated when you're not around all the time," Axelrod said. "And the truth is that I hope to bring something that I can't bring right now when I return, which is insights you glean from regular people."
Axelrod, who opened Axelrod Strategies, said he will get into re-election mode gradually.
"I'll be on the speaking circuit for a while," Axelrod told the Tribune. "I will ease into my old role as the senior strategist of the campaign in 2012."
What voters want, he said, is "cooperation."
"Their feeling is that there are things more important than party. That's a feeling we share," Axelrod said. "It's going to be harder to win over those voters if you take a harshly partisan, dogmatic stance."