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Obama campaign headquarters offers peek at electoral strategy

May 12, 2011|By Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune
  • Staff members work at President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign headquarters during a media tour of the Chicago facility.
Staff members work at President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign… (M. Spencer Green, AP )

Reporting from Chicago — Although it has a dazzling view that overlooks Millennium Park and Lake Michigan, President Obama's reelection headquarters in downtown Chicago isn't necessarily much to look at on the inside, based on a quick tour offered Thursday by the campaign.

Occupying a whole floor of about 50,000 square feet in the Prudential building that is formally known as One Prudential Plaza, the campaign setup features long rows of tables for dozens of staffers and volunteers. But the campaign is still moving into the space, and only a few dozen staffers were there, working on laptop computers or on the telephone.

The new space is a boost from the 31,000-square-foot headquarters the Obama campaign operated from across Michigan Avenue during the 2008 campaign.

Only a select few have actual office space, including Jim Messina, the former deputy White House chief of staff who serves as campaign manager, along with deputy campaign managers Jen O’Malley Dillon and Juliana Smoot.

The president has no formal office, but would use a conference room next to Messina's office. Campaign guru David Axelrod doesn’t have a formal office either.

But one wall in the giant open-space room may tell a bigger story. Dotted with highway maps, the wall featured more than a dozen states, including four that the Obama campaign lost to the 2008 GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Those states are Georgia, Arizona, Texas and South Carolina.

In addition, the wall held maps of states that Obama won -- Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the first two states in the presidential nominating process, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Campaign officials would not comment on whether those states were any special target of the reelection bid, though Obama’s political operation has been looking to make gains in the South and Southwest.

The wall also had a map of the Chicago area -- a necessity to help out-of-town volunteers relocate to the region for the reelection effort.

But most of the walls were blank -- although a poster off to the side of a lone receptionist reads "respect empower include win" in white letters on a blue background.

rpearson@tribune.com

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