Axelrod on Kamala: ‘Great at Asking Questions but Timid at Answering Them’

Democratic strategist David Axelrod believes Sen. Kamala Harris's (D., Calif.) failure to rise in the presidential primary polls can be explained by her "timid" approach to answering key questions on the campaign trail, he told the Los Angeles Times.

"What we’ve learned so far is that she’s great at asking questions but timid at answering them," said Axelrod, who was chief strategist for Barack Obama's presidential campaigns. "She’s going to have to correct that to navigate this process."

Harris, a first-term senator, was quickly anointed a frontrunner when she launched her campaign, but she has failed to separate herself from the pack in the crowded primary field and remains far behind leading candidates in the polls. Earlier this month the New York Times reported her campaign was trying to "reset" itself, before even the first primary debate.

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Axelrod pinned her failure to launch on her cautious approach, something he said "can be a very, very perilous thing in a presidential campaign" and makes candidates come off as "exceedingly political and calculated."

Gil Duran, a former Harris adviser, told the Los Angeles Times he thinks Harris has failed to turn the qualities that make her a great candidate on paper into something attractive on the campaign trail.

"You don’t get elected because you’re a list of qualities," said Duran, now the opinion editor of the Sacramento Bee. "What’s the big idea she’s carrying? That’s what she’s trying to figure out. She’s having trouble figuring out what she represents."

A vote won't be cast in the primary until early next year, giving Harris and others more than enough time to rebound. The first primary debate is late next month in Miami.