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Speaker Series brings in former members of President Obama’s campaign

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Photo by Nathan Parrott and Riley Ellison 

From left to right: David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Jon Favreau address the University at Albany community at 2013 Speaker Series. 


By Nathan Parrott 

By Riley Ellison 

By Orion Marchese 

Contributing Writers 



Albany’s Student Association welcomed members of the Obama Campaign as part of the World Within Reach Speaker Series. The event featured prominent members of President Obama’s past two presidential campaigns which consisted of his former senior advisor David Axelrod, former campaign manager David Plouffe, and former speechwriter Jon Favreau.

The event gathered many people from the university and from the surrounding Albany community.

The event focused on issues in the Obama campaign and on relevant topics that are currently facing the Obama administration. Topics included how each member became part of the Obama campaign. David Axelrod spoke on how he chose to work with President Obama, not because President Obama had the most money or the highest standing but because he truly believed that President Obama would be able to make a difference.

One of the other important topics they discussed was President Obama’s performance in the presidential debates. After the first debate President Obamas poll numbers dropped as expected.

“It’s more about how the president can recover from the first debate, if we saw him stumble in the second debate we might have been worried that maybe he wasn’t fit to lead,” Plouffe said.

The speakers also talked in detail about the demographic shift from the 2008 to 2012 elections. Axelrod said that while many republicans were talking about drops in minority voter turnout, the polling suggested exactly the opposite. Minority voter turnout has been steadily on the rise, so the notion that this election would be any different didn’t have any backing.

“Republicans were looking at this election as somewhere in between the 2008 election and the 2010 midterms, but why? All of the polling data was pointing away from that,” Axelrod said.

One of the last topics they talked about before moving into questions from the audience was the affordable care act, also known as ObamaCare. The speakers commented on the fact that the president felt that his most important night was not the night that he was elected president because that was just the opportunity to make change. The most important night was the night that ObamaCare passed because that was the true change.

The other big question was if President Obama reacted to the term “ObamaCare” and what it meant to him. At first, President Obama’s reaction was slow to embrace, said David Plouffe. President Obama initially thought of it as a negative term until one of his constituents on the campaign trail told him “ObamaCare means Obama cares.”

The idea of the term “Obama care” then became a positive term.

After the main panel questions were over, the audience had the chance to ask the three men specific questions. One of the questions had to do with what made the three men more qualified than anyone else to work on such large scale, history changing campaigns. Axelrod mentioned that his experience as a journalist helped him to find out what the people wanted and what the President wanted and find common ground in between.

UAlbany President Robert Jones expressed how happy he was that Student Association was able to get such prominent speakers and that the community and the student body were able to come together and share a night full of learning and excitement.

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