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Parting Words

David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Lesson time 02:55 min

David and Karl offer a call to action, encouraging you to get involved in politics and start making a difference.

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.


It's been great to spend this time with you, to share the lessons of our careers in politics. Some of the nuances and details of campaigning. Most of all, what I hope is you'll get a sense of how exciting, and energizing, and challenging, and stimulating campaigns can be. You may not want to run one. You may not want to be a candidate. But you should be an engaged citizen. We need you. This project of democracy needs you. And so we hope you'll take the lessons that you've learned here and apply them in coming elections and in your communities. - I'd say two things. One is, don't just take what we've said here today, read. There's so many wonderful books out there about great campaigns in American history that are well worth reading. And not just the campaigns of today, but the campaigns of yesterday. That if you read them and you've got an interest in politics, it might further some of that interest and encourage you even more to be involved as a candidate, a volunteer, or a campaign operative, or a party member. And the second thing I'd say is this. We've talked a lot about change in technology and about ways to go about planning and executing campaigns. But in reality, if you look at it, the more advanced we get with technology, the more we're returning back to the place that we were in the 1840s. When a lanky lawyer from Sangamon County, Illinois, wrote a letter to his campaign committee-- he was chairman of the Whig campaign committee that year in his county. He said make a perfect list of the voters. Ascertain with certainty for whom they will vote. Have the undecideds talked to you by someone they hold in confidence. And on election day, make certain that every Whig is brought to the polls. Now, Abraham Lincoln was a great president. He was also a pretty good practical politician. And all of this technology and all this hubbub about campaigns is bringing us back to the point that he made in his letter-- the third point. Have the undecideds talked to by someone they hold in confidence. And for a lot of people, even if you decide never to be a candidate and never manage a campaign, there are a lot of people who will rely upon your word if they're undecided. So please, regardless of whether you're Republican, Democrat, libertarian, vegetarian, whatever-- our great experiment is one generation away from extinction, as Ronald Reagan said, unless the American people continue to remain involved in our democracy, and our campaigns, and our elections. And in the choice of those people that we have to lead our country and our government. Thanks, again, for having us. - That's fucking fantastic. - Like Carl said.

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.

I learned a lot from Mr. Rove and Mr. Axelrod. Thank you very much.

Brilliant soup to nuts presentation on elections and campaigns. The moral? Are we supporting activities that strengthen or weaken democracy?

interesting and fact based course on campaign management (also insightful for business strategy & marketing)

Insightful class about a topic completely distant from what I do but a great way to have a greater awareness of this side of politics.



Great masterclass even if you are not involved in political enviroment but good messages and knowledge for your life experience


Two political giants with opposing for the ages. truly! This MasterClass did not disappoint as Axelrod and Rove had my full attention, while also teaching some profound life lessons while teaching strategy 100, 200, 300... I'd highly recommend this as a must see!!!!


Brilliant. Rich and interesting masterclass, full of details, examples, nuances, profound thinking. Thank you very much

Ana S.

I wish we have more of these civil discussions among democrats and republicans. What a pleasure to watch them both conversing and explaining to us their thinking process!


It really was fantastic both of you. Am based in Nigeria and there are so many insights you have shared that I hope to use to contribute to changing politics in Nigeria in my own small way. Nigerians are desperate for change yet our people have reached a point of losing hope in our leaders. If there is a solid campaign and messaging that can catch the attention of the average Nigerian combined with great candidates at all levels of government, Nigeria as a nation will become better. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Julio G.

Just terrific! Good information and experiences; good sharing of agreements and disagreements; and an excellent example of how members of two opposing parties can work together for the common good of America and thus for the world.

David K.

loved it. Incredibly compelling and insightful and useful in many walks of life. Really enjoyed the respect shown througout.

Cory S.

Great lesson on politics. Thank you. You both showed respect for each other which is nice to see.

Imad S.

Phenomenal class. Change Managers and Transformation Experts could benefit a lot from this dialogue. Most of these fundamentals can be applied to engage effectively with stakeholders during times of change.


This was an excellent class about political campaigns. David and Karl know their stuff really well. David’s point about really knowing why a person is running for office is the first question any person should get a valid answer to before supporting a candidate. Karl’s summation about Lincoln’s Whig party’s principles of winning are as succinct and as David added was well said.