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Ex-Obama adviser Axelrod defends friend Sean Spicer for how he handled 'worst job in America'

David Axelrod's friendship with former White House spokesman Sean Spicer helped him score a noteworthy scoop earlier this year when Spicer visited Axelrod's Institute of Politics on the eve of President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Now that Spicer is something of a national laughingstock, the friendship presents a slightly more awkward proposition for President Barack Obama's former strategic adviser.

Still, Axelrod did his best to be loyal to Spicer in an interview he granted to Katie Couric on her podcast, published Thursday also as part of Axelrod's regular "The Axe Files" podcast.

He noted with irony that Spicer told University of Chicago students in January that "he would quit before he lied" for Trump.

"Well, he kind of got the timing right," quipped Couric, prompting Axelrod to give a more full-throated defense of Spicer.

"In fairness to Sean, who is a friend of mine, the worst job in America is being a spokesman for Donald Trump, because you just don't know, whatever bridge you walk out on, and sometimes you're told to walk out on a bridge which you know is a bridge to nowhere," he said.

When Couric suggested Spicer could have quit earlier, Axelrod said, "Well, I hear you," before Couric's co-host rescued him by changing the subject.

The visits of Spicer — and later of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to the institute earlier this year — both prompted student protests.

But Axelrod said, "I don't want to yield to the notion that we're not going to bring speakers to the IoP who some body of students or others might find objectionable."

He quoted another institute guest, CNN commentator Van Jones, as telling students "My mission is to make you strong, not safe." The university, he added, "is the gym."

kjanssen@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @kimjnews

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