David Axelrod, the Democratic strategist and longtime adviser to President Barack Obama, says he doesn't think Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) poses a credible threat to Hillary Clinton's likely presidential bid in 2016.
"I know Elizabeth Warren well, and my strong feeling is she's not going to run," Axelrod said in a Wednesday interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. "I think she's trying to influence the direction of the party, and you have more influence as a potential candidate than you do if you take yourself out. So she's allowing, she’s sticking to this language of 'I'm not running for president,' and titillating people with it, because it gives her more leverage."
Axelrod continued, "I don’t think she would beat her. I have high regard for Elizabeth. I don't think she would beat her. Look at the polling, Hugh. Hillary is probably as well-positioned within her own party as any open seat candidate has been in our lifetime."
Warren has repeatedly insisted she has no interest in running for president in 2016, but that hasn't stopped grassroots activists from trying to persuade the freshman senator to challenge presumed Democratic frontrunner Clinton. Earlier this week, the New York Working Families Party called on Warren to run, joining organizations like Ready for Warren who are pushing the senator to jump in.
Axelrod, who is promoting his new memoir Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, has previously theorized that Warren is looking to exert "maximum leverage" on Clinton's 2016 platform.
"I think Elizabeth’s very sincere about her concerns about what’s happening in the American economy and Hillary hasn’t said yet what exactly her program will be, what she’s running on," Axelrod told MSNBC in December. "I think Elizabeth knows she’s got maximum leverage by still being in the conversation."
In the Wednesday interview, Axelrod rejected Hewitt's assertion that Clinton's tenure at the State Department would hurt her chances.
"There are number of important advances that she had on her watch, which ended four years ago, that went to helping put together the international coalition in the midst of the financial crisis, putting together international coalitions around arms control, making sure that we had supply routes open so our troops could be resupplied in Afghanistan," Axelrod said. "This race is not going to be about that."
HuffPost Pollster's model, which tracks publicly available opinion polls, currently shows Clinton ahead of the rest of the potential Democratic field by nearly 50 points: