“I think she’d be very strong,” Axelrod said at a National Journal policy summit. “First of all, having been engaged in a primary race with her … she is an indefatigable candidate and very, very powerful and she’s only stronger now for having four years of I think splendid leadership” as secretary of State.

He added: “I think she’d be in a very, very strong position,” he said. “I think the reality of a woman getting elected the president of the United States may be an even more powerful incentive in 2016.” …

The warning extends even to Vice President Joe Biden. Asked about Biden, Axelrod praised his tenure as Obama’s No. 2 and called him a “very formidable candidate.” But among all possible candidates, Axelrod called Clinton “first among equals.”

“I think a lot of the race is going to center on whatever decision Secretary Clinton makes,” he said.