TOUR: Here's What It's Like Inside Obama's Massive Chicago Campaign Headquarters

obama headquarters ping pong table

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….

A countdown to Election Day greets you when you walk into the office.

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 Budget Team was hard at work Thursday.

The Vetting Team also looked very focused. I wonder who they're checking out? (I wasn't allowed to linger for very long.)

The campaign Finance Team didn't have an official sign.

But they made their own to spark a little friendly competition

The finance team also made this inspirational wall of Obama fan mail.

Here's one of the letters — I wonder if Valerie Groves knows she's on the Obama Wall of Fame?

There was a noticeable dearth of coffee makers around the office — which could explain why the Tech Team is territorial over this one.

But there were two very fancy-looking water coolers.

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.

Nearly every inch of wall space is covered with a slogan

And obscure campaign paraphernalia.

There were quite a few strange objects lying around — no one could explain what this pink tent was for.

From the looks of this unused break room, there is not a lot of downtime at Obama HQ.

But they get to blow off steam at this awesome Obama 2012 ping pong table.

Now see how the other half lives...

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