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Life’s Work

Students filled the front of the room and asked the first questions of campaign strategist and political consultant David Axelrod during his visit to the Institute for Principled Leadership in February. Axelrod praised the bipartisanship of Ray LaHood ’71 HON ’11, who introduced him, as well as Robert Michel ’48 HON ’81 and Everett Dirksen.

In remarks that touched on the future of journalism, what matters most in a candidate (authenticity), the Electoral College and gerrymandering, the former chief strategist and senior advisor to President Barack Obama was thoughtful and measured. Asked about similarities between the 2008 and 2020 races, he said, “The mistake is to expect the next campaign to be like the last one.”

He spoke of his daughter Lauren, who suffered uncontrollable epileptic seizures from infancy until an effective medication was found when she was 18. Because the cost of her medications and medical care had nearly bankrupted the family, he said he wept after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He recalled finding and thanking Obama, who replied, “That’s why we do the work.”

ABOVE: Photo by Duane Zehr

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