Politics



March 28, 2011, 7:15 am

Obama Campaign Picks Headquarters in Chicago

President Obama’s aides have settled on the location of a campaign headquarters in downtown Chicago, with his re-election effort poised to open early next month by raising money and building a political organization for the 2012 presidential race.

While the president remains in Washington, his re-election team will be situated more than 700 miles away on an upper floor of One Prudential Plaza, a few blocks from where Mr. Obama delivered his 2008 victory speech on election night in Grant Park.

The campaign office, which officials confirmed will be at 130 East Randolph Street in Chicago, has views of Lake Michigan and is also near the site of Mr. Obama’s first presidential campaign office. He will become the first president in recent memory to run his re-election bid from outside Washington, a strategy that his advisers believe will help build a stronger connection with grass-roots supporters.

Jim Messina, who stepped down as deputy White House chief of staff, will be the campaign manager for the re-election effort. He will be joined in Chicago by two deputy campaign mangers: Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee, and Julianna Smoot, a former White House social secretary, who led Mr. Obama’s fund-raising efforts in 2008.

David Plouffe, who ran the first presidential race for Mr. Obama, is now working in the White House as a senior adviser to the president. He said this year that putting the re-election headquarters in Chicago was an important step in rebuilding the campaign operation that helped elect Mr. Obama.

“’There’s not going to be two dueling power centers,” Mr. Plouffe said in a January interview. “’The philosophy of this campaign will not be that the White House is somehow running the campaign. The people running the campaign are in charge of the campaign. That’s the way the president wants it. We’ll do it in a coordinated way, but they’re running this thing.”

While Mr. Obama is not expecting to face a Democratic challenger, the Republican nominating contest is already under way, and aides are eager to begin raising money on the president’s behalf. The Chicago office for Mr. Obama will formally open after he files re-election papers with the Federal Election Commission.

The office building is a tall high-rise that sits near Millennium Park, and not far from Soldier Field, which is home to the Chicago Bears. The campaign will initially work out of one floor of the building, which is marked on the outside with large gold lettering, “The Prudential. Insurance Company of America.”


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