The moderator, John Callaway, noted that Ronald Reagan had been able to talk up the economy in 1984, while George H. W. Bush had been unable to in 1992.

“Bush tastelessly did it often from the ninth hole and from the cigar boat and other places. And the impression you got was that he was out of touch,” Axelrod said.

“You still like to beat up on Bush?” Callaway asked.

“It’s the only thing we have left,” Axelrod responded.