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Axelrod Sounding Awfully Kind About Scott Brown

"My hat's off to him."

1:16 PM, Jan 19, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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The president's adviser, David Axelrod has praise for Brown and oblique criticism for Coakley today. It's amazing how quickly a helping hand becomes backhanded when it comes from the White House, no?

The Obama strategist volunteered praise for the Massachusetts Senate campaign run by the Republican, Scott Brown, and seemed to find nothing good to point to in the Democratic effort. He said he didn't want to "delve deeply into post-mortems on the day people are voting."

Axelrod appeared to reject the criticism that he and his team had been taken by surprise and should have done more to head off a Democratic collapse. He said it was "not exactly a revelation to us" that voters are angry and anxious after a year in which millions of Americans have lost their jobs and millions more see no evidence in their lives that the economy is recovering.

Axelrod also said that there were "local issues at play" in Massachusetts and that the Republican had run "a very clever campaign."

"As a practitioner in politics, my hat's off to him," Axelrod said.

A clever Brown campaign + a bad campaign by Coakley + local issues = the White House spin in the event of a Coakley loss. Considering how stingy the White House generally is with praise for any foe (including citizens at Tea Parties), the pro-Brown element of this spin seems telling.

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