Obama: Emil Jones Jr.
You don’t jump from state senator to U.S. senator as quickly as Obama did without some support. Emil Jones Jr., the president of theIllinois State Senate and an old gear in Chicago’s political machine, made Obama’s ascension his personal cause, shepherding him through thevalley of political peril. The two first met while Obama was acommunity organizer in Chicago — in fact, Obama was protestingoutside of Jones’s office, trying to secure funds for his group. Jonestook Obama under his wing when he entered the State Senate in 1997,reining in jealous rivals and sending Obama important bills to raisehis profile and build his credentials in anticipation of a nationalSenate run. Obama refers to Jones as his “political godfather,” andindeed, when Obama asked how Jones secured the endorsements of acouple fellow state senators for him, Jones replied, ingodfather-esque fashion, “I made them an offer. And you don’t want toknow.”
Romney: The Head Bainiac
Even before graduating from Harvard Business School, Romney was being courted by the prestigious Boston Consulting Group, where he would ultimately work for a while before decamping to relative newcomer andhot shot Bain & Company, the brainchild of Bill Bain. At the company, Romney quickly rose through the ranks, getting the green light tostart a sister venture-capital fund, Bain Capital, which would earnhim a fortune. While perhaps not a mentor in the official tutelagesense of the word — though Romney’s unofficial biographer HughHewitt did use the label on Bain — Romney took to heart severalof his former boss’s truisms. “Bill Bain had often said there is ascientific basis for trusting your gut instincts. He reasoned thatthere are all kinds of signals, body language signals that yoursubconscious brain detects without you even being aware of it,” Romney wrote in Turnaround. “Whether or not that is so, I’ve tended to listen to what I feel in my heart about people.” Also in the book: “Bill Bain, my old boss, used to joke that most things can be fixed, but smart — or dumb — that’s forever.”