How Obama Got the Dems Vote

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CHICAGO, Ill. - Team USA beating the Russians at the Olympics. Now that was a miracle. So was Joe Namath and the New York Jets winning the 1969 superbowl and David defeating Goliath.

And some would add Barack Obama beating Hillary Clinton to the list.

Virtually unknown four years ago, Obama is making history as the first African American to lead a major party into the general election. His story is one of hard work and unity, beginning in a city known for its political machine.

Wrigley Field here in Chicago is home to the Chicago Cubs but it is also home to Barack Obama's main headquarters. Now, just like in baseball the reason the Obama campaign has won is because they hit far more homeruns than the Clinton campaign.

Obama's Chief Strategist

One of the heavy hitters behind the scenes is David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist. He's involved in all facets of the campaign including the constant message: "Change We Can Believe In."

"I think there's some comfort to people who want to know that you believe what you're saying, that you are who you claim to be," Axelrod said.

Clinton, on the other hand, had all sorts of different campaign slogans. She also positioned herself as the experienced candidate leaving her vulnerable in an election overshadowed by change.

"At a time when Washington has failed so spectacularly running as the.Washington insider isn't necessarily a good strategy and I think that's something that worked against her," Axelrod explained.

Inside Obama Central

CBN News got a sneak peak inside Obama central in Chicago. A few hundred employees are here with more being added everyday.

The "change" signs are everywhere and so is this one, 'Countdown to November 4th." Over there is the "Wall of Barack" and across the way is the "Column of Michelle." There's even a mural made out of Chicago newspapers and they also have a great way to unwind after 14-hour days that never seem to end. That hard work has now paid off and it all started with Iowa.

"You go through an experience like Iowa where there is such a reward and that you know at the end of the day you're changing politics, you're changing the country. We could win the White House," Obama press spokesmanTommy Vietor said.

The victory gave a signal to skeptical African Americans that a black man could actually win the nomination and a few weeks later, helped Obama win South Carolina. Iowa was also a caucus state which the campaign strategically targeted, racking up delegates in states where the Clinton campaign didn't organize as well.

"When the history is written of this campaign or the current history which is what we are discussing now a big mistake in the Clinton campaign will be that she did not compete wholeheartedly early in these caucus states," Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times said.

This new team on the block also blazed the Internet trail. Its new media department went after young voters through Facebook and MySpace. The fundraising effort was part old-school with big donors but also very much new school where the internet became a cash cow for new donors and new money.

"That's what made the difference. That's what set up this campaign almost as two people on top and everyone else," Sweet added.

Cohesion Factor

What also set the Obama campaign apart is the cohesion factor. It''s a tightly knit group.

"You haven't seen a whole lot of leaks and backstabbing coming out of this campaign because he demands that there be no drama," Axelrod said.

Besides Axelrod, Obama has been served well. Key players on the team include deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, communications director Robert Gibbs, close confidant Valerie Jarrett and the underrated, but very effective campaign manager, David Plouffe.

"David Plouffe is the greatest campaign manager I've ever seen in a presidential race in my lifetime," Axelrod claimed.

Still, make no mistake that Obama is in charge of his campaign and maybe there's no better example than the Jeremiah Wright controversy. Obama pushed his team to react quickly.

"He knew that this was a tough moment in the campaign and a difficult issue and his attitude was I'm just going to lay it out there and we'll see what happens and I saw a kind of calm and focused and incisiveness that you want to see from a president of the united states," Axelrod said.

All of these moves have led to not only success at the polls but to an energy and passion among democratic voters not seen in years. When you get close to 80,000 people to show up at a rally in Oregon, you know you're doing something right.

"There are moments in the campaign when you are stunned by what's happened even though you're part of the campaign," the senior strategist said.

It's a campaign that is one for the history books.

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CBN News
David Brody

David Brody

CBN News Senior National Correspondent

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