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LONDON — President Barack Obama's former adviser David Axelrod has some advice for 2016 presidential hopefuls: Pay heed to politicians across the pond.
The strategist, who has been advising the U.K.'s main opposition Labour Party ahead of Thursday’s election, said Americans contenders should draw lessons from Britain's general election by putting household economics at the heart of their campaign.
“I think American politicians should be watching this race because the economic issue is at the core,” he told NBC News. “The whole question of whether recovery is going to reach working families is very much the same on both sides of the ocean.”
Axelrod, who also advised Bill Clinton before working on Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign, warned Republicans that policies such as tax cuts for the wealthy risked alienating the majority of voters.
“The thing that is driving a lot of what voters are thinking about in Britain is whether the recovery is going to reach the kitchen tables of working families,” he said. “There’s a real sense that the system works for people at the top … but everyone else is working harder to keep their place. I think the same concerns are very much at play in America. So you know I expect to see that played out here.”
He predicted that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party would struggle to win Thursday’s poll because “there seems to be a progressive majority in Britain.”
Axelrod’s Labour Party is Cameron’s main opponent, but polls predict it won't garner enough support to win the election outright. Instead, either the Conservatives or Labour are expected to enter talks with smaller parties to form a coalition government.
“This is a long term struggle as to how you create economies in the 21 century that reward work, that give people a chance to get ahead, that don’t simply reward people at the top while everybody else is left to struggle,” Axelrod said.
He also expressed confidence that Labour's leader, Ed Miliband, would make a good prime minister — despite a photo mishap showing the notoriously awkward politician struggling to eat a bacon sandwich.
“I did recommend to him that, when in public, order egg salad,” Axelrod joked.