By Tribune staff
5:27 PM CST, December 7, 2012
David Axelrod finally oversaw a campaign in which he was happy to end up the loser.
President Barack Obama's senior strategist shaved off his trademark mustache on live TV Friday, fulfilling a promise to slash his 40-year-old 'stache to help raise $1 million for epilepsy research.
"We're cutting it off because there are people who have lost a lot more than a mustache to epilepsy," Axelrod said.
Axelrod's facial hair served as campaign fodder during the presidential election after he vowed to shave it on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" if Obama lost Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Michigan. After those states went blue last month, Axelrod again put his mustache on the line in an effort to raise money for the Chicago-based Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy.
Axelrod's wife, Susan, helped establish the organization in 1998 to promote research and education about the disease. Their daughter, Lauren, has epilepsy.
"Susan and I are so thankful to the more than 2,600 people who took what was a friendly wager and turned it into a worthy cause," Axelrod said in a statement. "Because of their kindness and generosity, we were able to raise more than $1 million to fund research to cure epilepsy, a terrible brain disorder that takes the lives of 50,000 of our loved ones each year.
"While so many of you have helped show just what one mustache is capable of, I happily gave it up to help those who have sacrificed so much more."
In reaching his goal, Axelrod received contributions from high-profile donors such as the president and actors Tom Hanks and George Clooney. Even outspoken Obama critic Donald Trump pitched in $100,000 to help meet the goal.
Trump called in to "Morning Joe" after a professional barber used a straight razor to shave off Axelrod's Chevron-style 'stache.
"I think he looks great," Trump said.
Susan Axelrod — who had never seen her husband without facial hair — seemed to agree.
"Still married," she joked after inspecting Axelrod's bare upper lip.
Axelrod, who advised Obama during his presidential campaigns, has said he's leaving politics. The University of Chicago announced in January that he will become director of the school's new Institute of Politics in 2013.
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