Business, Politics & Society


David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Lesson time 8:05 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.
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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.

Very interesting to see how people get elected..

"That's fucking fantastic." lol. I couldn't sum up the class better than that. I don't intend to run for office but I feel like a more informed voter after that class. Thank you.

Helped me to understand how the sausage casing is made to help make the sausage palatable enough for the consumer to buy it and take it home and serve it to their family. No compromises or insistence on ideologies, but great insight on the process.

Both are concerned with the state of democracy and that is the main point of the class and why I am taking the class. I am going to take time to digest the content, apply it and pass along.


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.

A fellow student

I'm 84 years old which means that I am primarily interested in learning about political techniques due to the upcoming campaigns. Strictly a personal interest of a citizen of the United States of America.

Ron H.

I ran for political office several years ago, winning a primary race, but losing in a general election. I made many mistakes and also had several successes along the way. I am excited about this course and think that I may learn of more mistakes made which may not be great for my ego, but to hell with that right? I did discover a rather universal truth while running. I used to call it my 1/3rd rule, but I think my ratios are off. 1/3 of the people running are ethically challenged. 1/3rd of the people running are simply morons. 1/3rd of the people actually give a damn. I saw that this crossed Party lines and as a voter, it is a responsibility to figure out who is in that 3rd 3rd. Also, prior to my run for office, I actually used my Bush tax rebate to pay for a class on campaigning. That class, a series of seminars was invaluable to me. I am certain this course will be the same.

Charmaine M.

I am here to learn how to effectively communicate a strong message to people. And learn about American politics while I am at it. Because these two Presidential Campaigners know a lot of about marketing and messaging.

x X.

we need to destroy the two party system, otherwise democracy will never exist. imperialism should be unconstitutional. the united states has lost it's right to have foreign military operations. we need to cut funding to the military by 100%, we need to stay objective and reject criminal capitalist fascist organizations weather they are the two party system or the two soda system. the united states has lost it's right to state recognition, an ally to america is an enemy to the humanity, the world, and reality. an ally of the united states federal government is an enemy to reality. we need to dismantle the cia or else world peace is not possible!, since your government is criminal. all forms of top secrete information should be unconstitutional, if privacy doesn't exist for us it shale not exist for you.