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David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Lesson time 08:14 min

Meet your new instructors David Axelrod and Karl Rove. In your first lesson, they share how they each found politics, how their unlikely friendship began, and why they are passionate about democracy.

David Axelrod and Karl Rove
Teach Campaign Strategy and Messaging
Renowned presidential campaign strategists David Axelrod and Karl Rove reveal what goes into effective political strategy and messaging.


MAN: Politics is a wonderful, noble profession if done right. MAN: It's exhilarating. It can be exasperating. But it's important being about something larger than yourselves. Unbelievably good news. MAN: For president of the United States, George W. Bush of Texas. MAN: Barack Obama is projected to be the next president of the United States of America. DAVID AXELROD: Very few people can think back to the exact moment when something happened that would inspire their entire career, their entire life. And mine happened when I was five years old. October 27th, 1960. John F. Kennedy was campaigning for president in New York City that day. He made 10 stops. And one of them was in the little housing development where I lived, Stuyvesant Town. And this very charismatic, young, dynamic guy jumped up on this makeshift platform and started speaking. And his voice was booming off the buildings. And people just paid rapt attention to him. And even though I couldn't intuit exactly what was happening, or understand exactly what was happening, he just seemed very important and very vital to me. And honestly, I was, from that moment, hooked. - I'd always been interested in politics. As long as I can remember, I've had a love of history and government. The fifth grade, when we all had our first civics class, and we all had to write a paper, and we wrote it about, you know, the three branches of government or the Declaration of Independence, I wrote mine on the theory of dialectical materialism. This guy Marx sounded to me like a really bad actor. So I've always been interested in politics in my life at that point, but that sort of made it-- I wanted to be part of that. - One of the things that I think ails our politics is that we tend to demonize people on the other side because we don't know them. - I didn't know David Axelrod. I knew of him. I had seen him in campaigns, from a distance. - I had heard from friends in politics, because I have friends on both sides, how smart he was, and that he was a good guy, but I didn't really know him. And then I read his autobiography, and I found some-- a point in common with him, a painful point in common with him. And I-- I emailed Karl. And I said, you know-- - I've read your memoir, and I thought you'd be interested in this. And attached was a article and a eulogy, a testament that he made about his father. My mother committed suicide. David's father committed suicide. And it was a beautiful tribute to his father, who was a health care professional, mental health care professional, but somehow or another couldn't find it-- couldn't find it within him to ask for help for himself. - And I said, you know, we should talk about this, because if you and I teamed up and talked about suicide prevention, suicide awareness, it'd probably get some attention. And we talked about our lives, his life in politics and his life outside of politics. - We just sort of clicked. ...

What it takes to win elections

David Axelrod and Karl Rove reach across the aisle to offer an inside look at winning campaign strategies. The respective architects of Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s historic election victories teach how to develop a campaign platform and reach an audience with consistent messaging. Find the inspiration and tools to get involved at any level, or simply become a more informed, engaged citizen.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

To me it was an eye opener with enough anecdotal style.

I was a newspaper city editor early in my career (I switched to science/engineering later). Therefore, I had witnessed some of what David/Karl discussed. However, it was interesting to hear about the details of campaigns, the need for a plan, etc.

Thank you for providing this class. It is so refreshing to hear an adult discussion of politics that is focused on participation over ideology. Kudos to Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Rove. I pray our country follows their example.

The only place I have seen and/or heard a high-level Democrat and a high-level Republican talk together with civility, generosity, mutual respect and admiration. Kudos to David and Karl and thanks to Masterclass.


Carl K.

is there a workbook for this class? Some others, like Steve Martin and Judd Apatow, have one...

Janee S.

While my ideas align more with David Axelrod, I have a deep appreciation for Karl Rove's contributions and accomplishments. Having the two together sharing their unique perspectives and strengths are what drew me to Master Class.

Paloma C.

Having run for Congress in the 2006 cycle, I am excited to see this Master Class offering. A rare opportunity.

Natalie P.

Very exciting to see a Master Class on politics. This is hard to find on other teaching platforms.

A fellow student

My Candidate won tonight guys - your lessons were with me every step of the way. Thank you so much - JS

Marcio S.

I enjoyed this lesson and found their personal stories to be inspiring. It's also interesting to see that David Axelrod and Karl Rove became successful without having been formally trained from the beginning. I feel like this course will certainly be worthwhile endeavor.

Michelle M.

The workbook for this class is head and shoulders above any other I've ever seen, and that includes those accompanying other masterclasses and the ones I saw in my time in the elearning industry. It's extremely helpful and doesn't just rehash the things in the course like most do. Whoever designed the workbook deserves recognition too; it is clearly designed with learning strategies in mind, making it extraordinarily helpful.

Justa C.

I am fascinated by politics! Thank you Mr. Rove & Mr. Axelrod for sharing your knowledge with us :)

Trent M.

Thank you for sharing the extremely personal story of how you met, and for reminding us how special our democratic experiment really is to not only our country, but to the world. With all of the angry partisan politics going on these days, it's so refreshing and invigorating to see two masters of their craft respect each others expertise, ideologies and points of view.

Karen B.

THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge. You have inspired me to get involved. I'm helping to run a federal campaign for a local candidate and i couldn't be more excited to put what I've learned to work. I feel democracy can't be taken for granted, especially these days, and I want to contribute.