Which 2020 Democrat should Donald Trump most be afraid of?
To get the inside view from the only people in the world who know what it’s like to run in a primary field so large -- and do so in the shadow of Donald Trump -- we invited the strategists for four of the top GOP primary campaigns of 2016 into a Washington cigar bar, a literal smoke-filled room, to talk shop. Which Democratic candidate has the most raw political talent? What weaknesses of Donald Trump's would they exploit in 2020? And why is everybody still so ticked off about the Virginia primary? Guests Danny Diaz (from the Bush campaign), Beth Hansen (Kasich), Jeff Roe (Cruz), and Terry Sullivan (Rubio). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
This is what Kirsten Gillibrand hates about running for president
Kirsten Gillibrand is a U.S. Senator with a soaring national profile, but her presidential campaign has yet to take flight. She’s even at risk of failing to have enough donors to make the debate stage under DNC rules, leading her to ask people for just a dollar, to boost her numbers. But that’s not what bothers her most about running for president. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Is John Hickenlooper too normal to be president?
In a crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper makes an impression on voters as a genuine candidate, even if he's a bit quirky. He colors outside the lines of the political conventions -- a geologist by training, a brewer and restauranteur by profession, and a politician only later in life. In this episode, he talks about his temper as a child, his pragmatic approach to politics, and how he's managed to succeed in a people-driven business despite a condition commonly known as face blindness, a condition that keeps him from recognizing familiar faces. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How it feels to win (and lose) a House majority
For our post-midterms edition of Off Message, we talked to Corry Bliss and Charlie Kelly, the two men who led the largest House campaign organizations in 2018. This election, Bliss led the Republican-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, and Kelly led its Democratic counterpart, the House Majority PAC. They talk about what went on behind the scenes, their biggest regrets of 2018, and where things go from here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
David Axelrod: Voters don't want a ‘Democratic version of Trump’
The strategist behind Obama's presidential campaigns gives his midterms predictions, shares his lightning-round thoughts on 2020 candidates and tells Tim whether he thinks any politician can recapture the Obama magic. David Axelrod doesn’t like the path the country—or the Democratic Party—is on. The chief strategist who steered Barack Obama’s winning White House campaigns worries that President Trump has laid a trap—and that his party is walking right into it. “Escalation breeds escalation,” Axelrod said in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. “And within the Democratic Party, I think there is a big debate about how to deal with Trump because he has no boundaries. He’s willing to do anything and say anything to promote his interests. It’s a values-free politics; it’s an amoral politics. And so, there is this body of thought that you have to fight fire with fire and so on. But I worry that we’ll all be consumed in the conflagration.” Stressing that “civility actually is a really important element of politics,” Axelrod criticized Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder for recent comments they’ve made, and described the backlash he has faced for urging Democrats to avoid confrontation. The best way to defeat Trump, Axelrod argued, is by nominating someone who can appeal to an exhausted electorate. “I don’t think people will be looking for a Democratic version of Trump,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll be looking for people who can go jibe for jibe and low blow for low blow. I think people are going to be looking for someone who can pull this country out of this hothouse that we’re in.” At his offices in Chicago, where he directs the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, we discussed Axelrod’s predictions for the midterm elections, the risk of overreach with a new House majority, and the strengths and vulnerabilities of the top-tier 2020 Democratic hopefuls. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit