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President Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign was no accident. Behind the charismatic Illinois Senator’s historic win was a crack campaign staff pulling the strings of a message-making machine that propelled Obama into the White House. The question now is whether or not they can pull it off again.
Hammered by a slow economic recovery, a controversial health care law and a Republican-blocked Congress, Obama has struggled through his first term and now faces a tough re-election fight against a well-funded and determined Republican Party.
But the president’s reelection team is working hard to revive the same enthusiasm among young voters and minorities, waging a battleground state war to get their guy back into the White House for another round. We’ve compiled a list of the five staffers who are leading Obama’s fight behind the scenes.
Cutter joined the Obama campaign in 2008 as Michelle Obama's chief-of-staff, reportedly to salvage the candidate's wife's 'battered image.' After the election, she climbed the White House ladder, first as counselor to the Treasury Department, and then as deputy senior advisor to the President in 2011.
And she hasn't backed down from her comments, which referred to revelations that Romney may have stayed on as CEO of Bain Capital for three years longer than he has told voters.
'If he was lying to the American people, that's a real character and trust issue,' she told reporters last Thursday.
Cutter got her start in politics working for the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy as his communications director in 2001.
Kennedy later recommended Cutter for John Kerry's campaign in 2004, where Cutter was hired as the communications director. But Kennedy and Cutter stayed close.
'When Kennedy fell ill in May 2008 at his home in Hyannis Port with what would turn out to be a deadly brain tumour, Cutter was the first call his wife made after dialling 911,' Politico reported.
The North Carolina native met the President in 2006, and volunteered for his campaign in 2008 while still holding down her day job.
Before being hired full-time in 2011, Butterfield-Jones worked for the US Chamber of Commerce as a Deputy Director of Public Affairs. She also co-founded the organisation, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, in 2007.
Butterfield-Jones is tasked with galvanizing one of Obama's most significant groups -- young people.
Young people voted in record numbers in 2008, with more than two-thirds choosing Obama over John McCain. To win the reelection, the Obama campaign must rejuvenate those same groups, but new polls indicate that 18-24 year olds are not nearly as excited for a second term.
Butterfield-Jones told Politico that 'college students will be an important part of that outreach,' especially through campaign visits to college campuses and summer seminars for young campaign leaders.
She tweeted this photo with the caption, 'Picture from the Michigan #GreaterTogether Student Summit tonight!'
Long-time Democratic organiser and former Howard Dean campaign aide, Bird joined Obama's campaign in 2007 as the South Carolina field director during the Democratic primaries and stayed on to run the primary campaigns in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
But his star really rose in the 2008 general election, when he led Obama to victory in the crucial battleground state of Ohio.
Source: organising for America
In the early days of the reelection effort, Bird made personal calls to volunteers.
'You are listed as a superstar 2008 volunteer,' Bird would tell people, according to Time. 'What do we need to do to get you back involved?'
Bird tweeted this photo of crowds in New Hampshire with the caption, 'Looking good, NH!'
Bird moved from DC's U Street neighbourhood to Chicago this spring so he could run his volunteer command centre from the Obama campaign's headquarters.
Wicks heads the Project Vote, known around Obama headquarters as the 'campaign-within-a-campaign,' which aims to register voters and rally participation.
In 2008, Wicks worked as the California field director and Missouri state director for Obama's campaign. After Obama was elected, she worked as the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement until leaving to join the re-election campaign.
Wicks has said that the volunteers are the best part of the job:
'Learning firsthand the stories of our volunteers--many of whom have never been involved in politics before--about why they are giving up their most precious resource, their time, to be involved in this campaign.'
She tweeted this picture in Greensboro, N.C., with the caption, 'FANTASTIC Women for Obama meeting in Greensboro, NC!! #FiredUp.'
Source: Obama For America
A University of Washington grad, Wicks moved to Chicago when Obama announced he would run for president in 2007.
Stewart made his mark during the 2008 Democratic primary as director of field operations in Iowa, the first big win for Obama. He went on to run Virginia during the general election, helping to turn the state blue for the first time since 1964.
Source: organising for America
'I also enjoy the challenge of putting a winning strategy together and then watching it mature into a successful effort,' Stewart told the Obama campaign. 'Watching a plan on paper turn into hundreds of offices with tens of thousands of volunteers is a unique experience.'
Stewart recently retweeted this picture from a Nevada organiser with the caption, 'epic '@emmyruiz: We're kicking off our @OFA_NV #VoteReg11 training in #reno w a packed house! #Obama2012 #WeCantWait.''
Source: Obama For America
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