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The Axe Files with David Axelrod

The Institute of Politics & CNN

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David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN bring you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.
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Last week, David sat down with Congressman Pete Aguilar of California, who serves as the chairman of the Democratic House Caucus and holds the distinction of being the highest-ranking Hispanic member in the U.S. House. They delved into Aguilar's remarkable personal journey, emblematic of the American dream, and addressed the gridlock gripping Congr…
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Bill Bradley stands as a rare figure, achieving Hall of Fame status in both sports and politics. As a former New Jersey Senator and presidential candidate, Bradley's impact on public life spans decades. Before his esteemed political career, he left an enduring legacy in college basketball, the Olympics, and as a vital member of the historic early '…
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For over four decades, Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning luminary renowned for his insightful columns in The New York Times and a friend of The Axe Files, has been a steadfast voice delving into the intricate tapestry of the Middle East. His profound understanding of the region's nuances is unparalleled, making him an invaluable ally in n…
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Many individuals have two jobs, but none quite like Raphael Warnock. On most weekdays, he patrols the halls of Congress as the Senior Senator from the state of Georgia. However, he also holds the position of senior pastor at the storied Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Preaching from the same pulpit that his idol, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., onc…
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Stephanie Murphy truly is a great American story. Born in Vietnam a few years after the war, she and her family fled tyranny and were rescued at sea by the U.S. Navy. Raised in a trailer park in Virginia, she worked her way through college and graduate school. Post 9/11, she became a young star at the Department of Defense, working as an analyst at…
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Jeff Zeleny is one of America's very best political reporters, with decades of experience covering national campaigns for the Des Moines Register, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, ABC, and CNN. David sat down with him the day of the New Hampshire primary to glean his insights into the current race. Their conversation also delved into Zeleny…
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John Miller has seen a lot. Born into the world of journalism as the son of a National Enquirer reporter, Miller's upbringing immersed him in a world of celebrities, club owners, mobsters, and law enforcement. Miller has spent his life toggling between television, journalism, and law enforcement. He has covered some of the most significant national…
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Mick Mulvaney knows a lot about the central players in the Republican nominating drama. With a background as the former budget director and acting chief of staff to Donald Trump, Mulvaney played a crucial role in the political landscape. Serving in Congress alongside Ron DeSantis and co-founding the House Freedom Caucus, he offers a unique perspect…
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This week The Axe Files team is sharing a special episode of Anderson Cooper’s extraordinary podcast All There Is. It’s a conversation about grief with President Joe Biden, who has faced more than his share in life. In it, he offers moving memories, lessons, and insights that are well worth hearing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastch…
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This holiday season, we are revisiting a conversation from March 2017 with Madeleine Albright, the trailblazing American scholar, diplomat, and Secretary of State. She passed away in 2022, but her inspiring personal story and her extraordinary insights into this complicated world are timeless. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.…
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Before June 28th 2022, few Americans knew of Cassidy Hutchinson, the young former White House staffer. But that all changed that day when she appeared as a surprise star witness at a hastily called televised hearing of the House Select Committee on January 6th to share what she knew about the events leading up to and following the storming of Capit…
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Although author Sara Paretsky grew up in Kansas, she said it was her summer in Chicago volunteering during the civil rights movement in 1966 that marked the “defining experience” on her life. Second wave feminism similarly influenced Sara, culminating in the creation of V.I. Warshawski, a stereotype-smashing, hardboiled, female private eye, who lea…
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Journalist Tim Alberta grew up in the evangelical church and has watched with both concern and interest as some factions of the faith have changed over the years. Following the death of his pastor father, Tim decided to take a closer look at American evangelicalism. He published the book “The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals…
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Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow always wanted to design cars. While that didn’t quite pan out—although she did spend some time working for Mattel on Hot Wheels—she has made a name for herself as a legislator after a speech she gave on the Michigan Senate floor rebuking GOP culture wars went viral in 2022. Sen. McMorrow joined David to talk abo…
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Dr. Walter Massey is a uniquely accomplished and fascinating American. Raised in the segregated South, Walter became one of only a handful of Black physicists in the 1960s and went on to hold leadership roles at laboratories, universities, and briefly Bank of America during the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis. He joined David to talk about his…
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Ambassador David Pressman has spent decades working on human rights, from positions at the White House to years as a human rights lawyer and nonprofit leader. He is continuing to fight for human rights and democracy as the current Ambassador to Hungary, but this time with added significance—he serves as a gay man in a country enacting increasingly …
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This week, we’re bringing you a special episode of The Axe Files. In honor of the 15th anniversary of President Barack Obama’s historic election, David assembled a group of key players who made the 2008 Obama campaign happen. Jon Favreau, Robert Gibbs, Reggie Love, and Alyssa Mastromonaco joined David to talk about their memories of the campaign, s…
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