Axelrod tells CNN's Blitzer "we like the early returns."

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let’s bring in David Axelrod right now. He’s a senior adviser to Senator Obama. He’s joining us from Chicago.

David, thanks very much for coming in.

What do you think? What’s going on, from your perspective?


I mean, we like what we see around the country. We like the turnout. We like the early returns. We’re thrilled that Indiana is competitive.

Obviously, Pennsylvania was a key. The McCain people identified Pennsylvania as a must-win state for them to put their 270 together.

So — and we’re looking forward to the returns from the Western states, where we think we are going to do really well. Early vote out there was really robust. North Carolina looks interesting.

And, you know, I mean, the inspiring thing is that all over this country today, people came out, sometimes waiting in long, long lines, for hours and hours, to participate in this process of changing the direction of the country. And we think, at the end of the day, that that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

BLITZER: Tell our viewers in the United States, David, and around the world what Senator Obama is doing now, where he is, Michelle Obama, and what we can expect to see them, to hear from them over the next few hours. What’s your game plan?

AXELROD: Well, he’s home right now with his family. As you may have reported, as you know, he played his traditional basketball game with his — with friends and staff late this afternoon.

It’s become sort of a tradition, and a lucky one for us, so we didn’t want to disrupt that. He went home, spending quiet time with his family.

He’s going to come downtown later this evening. And he will come out and speak. We have got a great crowd in Grant Park, as you know. He’s going to speak when we know something and when it’s clear. We don’t need to — we have waited two years, Wolf. We can wait a couple more hours to draw conclusions here.

BLITZER: I know he’s superstitious about playing basketball on Election Day. Any other superstitious elements that go on, on a day like this?

AXELROD: Yes, well, one superstition is not claiming victory too early.

That’s a big superstition we have.

BLITZER: Yes, that would be bad.



AXELROD: And, so, that’s something that we’re not going to do, but, no, that’s the big one. He carries around some — people give him lucky charms around on rope lines and at town hall meetings and so on. And he’s carried those in his pocket through this campaign.

But, look, I think, ultimately, this isn’t really about luck. It’s about whether or not the American people respond to your message and believe that we should move in a new direction. And I think, tonight, we’re beginning to see that that’s exactly what this country wants to do.

BLITZER: All of us were deeply saddened yesterday when we learned that his grandmother, his 86-year-old grandmother, passed away. How is he dealing with this enormous loss? We know how much he loved her and what a critical role she played in raising him.

AXELROD: Well, no doubt she was — she played a formative role in his life. And much of who he is as a result of her love and her guidance.

But it was not a huge surprise. She had been ill. He had been told that things were grave. That’s why he went to Hawaii, you know, toward the end of the campaign, because the doctors said it may well be that she wouldn’t make it to the election.

And I think, yesterday, he was feeling very happy that he had done that, that he had been able to see her. And that meant lot to him, but, of course, it’s hard. And, you know, he — I think he’s been buoyed by the enormous outpouring of people who have sent their good wishes.

And, yesterday, in that crowd, you could sense it. There were tens of thousands of people and they were all there supporting him through that difficult moment. So that is — that’s some solace right there.

BLITZER: Yes, I’m sure. And our deepest condolences to him and his family.

Is there anything you’re seeing, David, right now that is giving you a little heartburn, any problems out there as far as voter irregularities or surprises that you might not necessarily like?

AXELROD: Well, of course, there are always issues at the polls, Wolf.

And we want to make sure that everybody who has been in line gets a chance to vote. And we’re making sure that that happens. But, if you ask me what’s giving me heartburn, it’s that I can’t exactly figure out what should be giving me heartburn right now.

And that’s an unusual position to be in. And I’m trying to grasp — I’m trying to deal with that. The main thing is just to — you know, we would love to make the clock go faster and get the numbers counted and come to some conclusion.

But everything we see at this juncture seems positive to us, and not just positive about the outcome, but positive about the possibility of putting together a new coalition.

BLITZER: All right.

AXELROD: He’s spoken since 2004 about breaking up this red state/blue state paradigm. I think we could possibly do that tonight.

BLITZER: But you haven’t unleashed these thousands of lawyers that you have on standby all over the country. That has not been necessary right yet. Is that true?

AXELROD: Well, there have been places where we have needed to intervene to make sure that there were more voting machines or ballots available.

But I don’t see any gross irregularities, any pattern of irregularities, just the normal stuff you would see on an Election Day. And that’s very positive.

But we’re prepared even now for anything that might arise.

BLITZER: And, finally, I just want to show our viewers once again the live pictures. Thousands of people are gathering in Grant Park right now. They’re obviously very excited, in Chicago, along the lakefront there.

But, at some point later tonight, you anticipate Senator Obama and his family making the move and going over there. That’s where he’s going to address his supporters. Is that right?

AXELROD: Absolutely. Yes, he will be there. And we’re looking forward to it. It’s great to be back in our hometown to be with our great supporters.

So, we’re looking forward to that. And we’re just asking for a little bit of patience while the votes get counted here.

BLITZER: All right, you have been patient a long time. You can be patient a little bit longer.

David Axelrod, thanks very much.

AXELROD: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will be talking.

David Axelrod is in Chicago.


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