Meet the Man in Charge of Re-Electing Obama: Jim Messina

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With President Obama expected to officially announce his re-election bid on Monday, now seems like a good time to get to know Jim Messina, the man who will be managing the campaign. The last week has seen a variety of pieces about Messina, some good and some bad. Robert Creamer, a Democratic political consultant, gushed about Messina in The Huffington Post in an article unsubtly titled, "Jim Messina is a Perfect Choice to be Obama's Campaign Manager." In the fawning article, Creamer wrote: "I have no doubt whatsoever that Messina is absolutely devoted to the fulfillment of the progressive vision that is at the heart of what is special about America. And more times than not he is successful at making progress happen." At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ari Berman compared Messina to Karl Rove. "As deputy chief of staff, Messina held the same position once occupied by Karl Rove (and Josh Lyman on The West Wing)," Berman wrote. "He worked as a top lieutenant for Rahm Emanuel and became the administration’s lead enforcer after Emanuel left for Chicago." Putting a Democrat's name in the same sentence as Karl Rove, is there a more flagrant insult?

But the real substantive Messina piece is Jeff Zeleny's profile of the campaign manager in today's edition of the New York Times. Zeleny does what he can to illuminate the man he calls, "the most influential person in the president’s inner circle whom many people have never heard of." He creates a portrait of a man willing and able to do what it takes to accomplish the difficult task ahead of him, making a country fall back in love with Obama when he can no longer campaign under the banner of change. Zeleny also gets into why the campaign will be based away from Washington D.C. The reason: being in Chicago allows Messina and his staffers to ignore governance and just focus on getting the President reelected. Also, apparently Messina's the science to Obama's art. “I really believe that the president is the art and I am the science,” Messina told Zeleny. “You have to start out with the assumption that this will not be 2008 again.”

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Still, it's impossible to know what type of campaign manager that Messina will be. Will he make disenchanted liberals fall back in love with Obama while also wooing the undecided or will he continue to allow the core that got Obama elected in 2008 to feel forgotten? As with anything, only time will tell. That said here are five things about Messina, gathered from details and anecdotes throughout the Zeleny's profile, that we can be certain of:

  • He Counts His Steps  While working in the West Wing his desk was only 41 steps from the Oval Office. He knew this because he counted them on his first day.
  • He Drinks Pepsi  During a lunch with Zeleny in Chicago, Messina drank multiple glasses of Pepsi.
  • He is a Big Fan of University of Montana Athletics  How big a fan is he? Well, he'd like his ashes to be spread over the campus's landmark "M." It should also be noted that his sports fandom extends past University of Montana athletics, as he and the President like to talk about football together.
  • He has the Mouth of a Sailor  The University of Montana school paper quoted him as saying a word The New York Times won't print. He's also used that same word at a mayoral fundraiser, something which shocked at least one mid-60s woman in attendance.
  • He likes music  He has 4,284 songs on his iPod, which he took with him when he moved to Chicago. He's also known to slip into clubs to listen to live music.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.