Business, Community & Government

Public Appearances

David Axelrod and Karl Rove

Lesson time 12:12 min

David discusses the importance of the campaign launch, the fundamentals of the stump speech, and why candidates must be aware that all their actions are under scrutiny in a campaign.

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

Topics include: The Importance of the Launch • The Stump Speech • Clean Up Your Mistakes


There are only a few moments in most campaigns when you're actually going to get attention. The launch is one of them. And just as with everything else in the campaign, as if there's anything that I have conveyed here that's important, I hope it's this-- everything in the campaign has to service that main message. And the launch certainly has to service that main message. Are you in a venue that conveys something about that message? Are you surrounded by people that conveys something about that message? Are the words you use an explication of that message? All of that is important because you will get covered on the day of your launch. And it's very important. Now, in a presidential race, ours was peculiar, I mean, in that there was so much anticipation about Obama's announcement that it was carried live on cable television. But it was interesting because, in keeping with what I said, we wanted to make this announcement outside the old state capitol in Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator, prepared for the presidency. We wanted to do it there for obvious reasons because we didn't want to speak to the historic nature of this announcement, but we wanted the reference to be clear. We wanted to be in Springfield because that's where Obama had spent eight years of his life doing public service and working with people in a state that's kind of a national bellwether in that it has been a major urban area, major agricultural areas, small town industrial communities. It really is a microcosm of the nation. He had worked successfully with people from all across the state and people across party lines. And we wanted to be in the place where he could tell that story and talk about what he had learned there. The problem was that this announcement was on February 10. And it turns out, it's very cold in Illinois on February 10. In fact, on that particular day, it was almost 0. I think it was 7 degrees. And the wind chill was about 0. This occasioned a lot of discussion within the campaign. To her credit, Mrs. Obama said, we cannot do this outside. There'll be children there. They're going to get frostbite. And speaking of bite, being a hard-bitten political consultant, I was unmoved by this argument because it was such an important statement. I mean, we ended up buying 20,000 hand warmers. We had a heater behind the platform so the candidate wouldn't have his teeth chattering during the announcement. But the fact that 20,000 people showed up in 0 degree temperatures to see him announce, people from across the country, was a message in and of itself of this grassroots movement for change that we were trying to build. So it turned out to be an incredibly successful announcement. - I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America. - Most candidates aren't going to have 20,000 people at their announcement and are going to maybe have to work to get coverage, much less...

About the Instructor

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.

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David Axelrod and Karl Rove

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

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