Obama: David “Axe” Axelrod
David Axelrod has been at Obama’s side longer than anyone else in his inner circle. The two first met when Obama was just out of Harvard Lawand coordinating a voter-registration drive in Illinois in 1992. (After years as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Axelrodhad become a sought-after political consultant.) Over a decade later, “Axe” worked on Obama’s Senate campaign and his presidential bid — Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia speculated that he was one of the key people pushing Obama torun. “Barack trusts David implicitly — they are genuinefriends,” said Robert Gibbs, Obama’s former press secretary, nowworking on his reelection campaign. As Obama’s senior adviser in theWhite House, Axelrod moved into the office next door to the OvalOffice, and for three years remained the president’s right-hand man,working behind the scenes to smooth out the wrinkles. But morerecently, as the president got mired in the health care overhaul and astill-sluggish economy, he came out of the shadows to take on the roleof defender-in-chief, flooding the press with appearances andinterviews to lambast Obama’s critics — so vociferously, infact, that RNC chairman Reince Priebus concluded that “he’s living inan alternative universe here.” By early 2011, it was announced thatAxelrod would be leaving the White House to focus on Obama’sreelection campaign, headquartered in Chicago. “Our relationship islong enough and deep enough that I have no concern about whether I’llhave influence,” Axelrod told the Chicago Tribune.
Romney: Mrs. Romney
While it sounds oh-so-corny, time and time again, it’s Ann who is offered up as Romney’s numero uno right-hand woman. Beth Myers, Romney’s 2008 campaign manager and again part of his inner circle this time around, said, “Ann is Mitt’s life partner and is probably his closest and most trusted adviser … her counsel is the counsel thathe values most.” Ann, speaking to Newsmax in 2007, agreed: “Iweigh in so heavily, and he listens to my advice probably more thananyone else’s.” She even apparently gets a big say in who gets hired to the Romney team. She was ultimately the one who convinced Romney totake over the scandal-ridden 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a prospect he claims to have initially rejected out of hand. “Ann is mymost trusted advisor,” he wrote in his 2004 book about his Olympics experience, Turnaround. “[H]er judgment on the widest rangeof business, organizational, and human resources matters was more sound than any other I know.”