A Close Reading of Obama's New Campaign Headquarters

Reporters got a tour and found political implications in every cubicle

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On Thursday, the Obama campaign opened its Chicago reelection headquarters to the media. Reporters and photographers were briefly able to scamper around a single-floor of the building and jot down nearly every poster, slogan and square foot as evidence of a potential political strategy.

Right from the get-go, visiting reporters were greeted with a sign that said "Respect. Empower. Include. Win," a catch-all slogan that will be dissected countless times before the campaign truly begins. In the same over-analytical vein, here's the other everyday office items that could be attributed more meaning than they might deserve:

  • The Chicago Location: "Trying to win re-election from outside Washington is something no incumbent president has done in decades," relays the Associated Press. Reading Into the Decision: The location could be a clear way to send a message that Obama hears "real people's concerns" as aides have said, rather than being beltway-centric. Or: Obama is just comfortable in Chicago.

  • The Size of the Office: "The office occupies 50,000 square feet on a single floor — up from 31,000 in the 2008 headquarters," observed PoliticoReading Into the Decision: Another tell-tale sign that Obama is looking to raise over a $1 billion dollars for his reelection. Or: since he's president now, he's just accumulated a little more staff over time.

  • The Layout of the Office: Only a few key campaign leaders have actual offices, the rest work in rows in the center of the floor. Reading Into It: The "space's organization reflects Obama's grassroots campaign style, which is open and inclusive," noted Reuters. Or: It was easier to build quickly that way, and convenient for staffers to communicate, like they're doing for the cameras below.

  • The Receptionist: at least five photographers gathered round the receptionist to document her sitting at a desk. Reading Into the Decision: She might just symbolize the campaign's "everydayness." Or: the photographers probably weren't allowed to go many other places.
  • Jim Messina's Office: the campaign manager greeted the press and "showed off an autographed jersey of Derek Jeter and an autographed photograph of Obama." Reading Into It: Mentioning Derek Jeter and showing autographed pictures is a sign that he will nab star endorsements for Obama early on. And if you look at the picture of his office below, there's a mini-football helmet--a clear sign of pandering to the electorate. Or: Messina just likes sports.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.