Photo: Business Insider/Grace Wyler
Business Insider got an inside look at President Obama’s reelection machine this week with a tour of the campaign’s Chicago headquarters. The visit coincided with the President’s first official campaign event of 2012. Both he and Vice President Joe Biden returned to the trail on Thursday, marking a major White House shift into general election mode.
In reality, reelection efforts have been in full swing for months. The staff now nearly fills the 50,000-square-foot headquarters, which take up an entire floor of a downtown Chicago highrise.
My tour was brief — Obama’s press flack cordially chased us through the offices in about 15 minutes — and I wasn’t allowed to interact with the staff. But first impressions suggest that Obama HQ is a fun place to work, at least for now.
Here’s what I saw….
About 300 paid staffers work in the Chicago office. More are expected to join over the next few months.
The Chicago office is the nerve centre for Obama's massive reelection — here's a schedule of this week's fundraisers, media appearances, and oppo releases.
The staff is also keeping track of the competition — this updated schedule of the GOP primaries was hanging above one of the office fridges.
There wasn't a lot happening on Thursday though — the campaign's media CentCom was tuned in to March Madness. (Yes, that's Charlie Sheen on the right.)
Office workspace is divided up by team. The organising Team is in charge of Obama's huge grassroots network.
The State Team takes up most of the main office space, and is further divided up by region. This state staffer works in California's section.
There is clearly competition for which region has the biggest sign — it looks like the Great Lakes & Mid-Atlantic team is winning.
The Vetting Team also looked very focused. I wonder who they're checking out? (I wasn't allowed to linger for very long.)
There was a noticeable dearth of coffee makers around the office — which could explain why the Tech Team is territorial over this one.
In addition to the paid staff, Obama headquarters also has a team of volunteers and interns — here are two volunteers making phone calls on Thursday. The unpaid staffers actually have the best view in the office, overlooking Grant Park.
Most of the rooms in the office are named after states as a way for staffers to mark their territory. Campaign director Jim Messina's conference room is christened after his home state.
Handmade signs are big in the Obama office — the Digital Team posted this one reminding the State Staff about appropriate tweet length.
There were quite a few strange objects lying around — no one could explain what this pink tent was for.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.