David Axelrod

AGE: 57
OCCUPATION: Chief strategist, Obama 2012

One of the few people anywhere who can just ring up the most powerful man on the planet, Axelrod is unquestionably Obama’s Man in Chicago. The president has entrusted his political mythologizer and former White House adviser to script his reelection campaign, retooling his message for a frustrated and cynical electorate. Win or lose, after the campaign, Axelrod has already finagled a power base: He’ll head the new Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, ensuring that the city stays on the national political map.

MORE ON AXELROD: David Axelrod's Last Campaign | Q&A with David Axelrod | Our December 1987 profile

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Photograph: Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune