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David Axelrod: architect of Obama's unlikely campaign

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And over the years he's mounted an impressive roster of clients – including Representative Emanuel, Sen. Herb Kohl, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

He has a close relationship with longtime Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, a client for 20 years, and he's done campaign work for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, and Sen. Chris Dodd – all vying for the nomination this year. But apparently Axelrod never has believed in a client as much as he does in Obama. "It's one of those things, where you pray for the day when you meet the right candidate and you meet at the right moment, and David Axelrod has done both of those," says Mr. Wilhelm.

Both men are from Chicago, and Axelrod first met Obama 15 years ago when Obama was a 30-year-old community organizer. Their friendship was solidified during Obama's 2004 run for the US Senate. Axelrod ran his campaign despite the fact that Obama was a little-known state senator who seemed to have little chance of beating his well-funded opponents.

Axelrod has a talent for mining his clients' biographies for details that will resonate with voters, and in Obama, he has found a uniquely American story to work with.

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