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The Now + Next of American Politics

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David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s chief political strategist, said last October that campaigns are like “an MRI for the soul—whoever you are, eventually people find out.” It could well have been meant as a warning, delivered with that surprisingly soft voice and sad eyes, for the Republican nominee, frequently described by Obama’s operatives as coreless. But during the debate on October 3, the president’s pursed-lipped diffidence and downward gaze in the presence of a newly forceful challenger turned the observation on its head. Now a different candidate was being scanned: Who was that person on the stage who we thought was the president? For Obama folks, the race-altering debate brought to mind a more painful medical procedure—like opening a vein. read more [+]


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