How Obama Did It

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One of the more remarkable ironies of this campaign season is how the newcomer to presidential politics managed to be the one who built the best campaign. No staff shakeups. No financial crises. No visible strife. Hillary Clinton and John McCain had done this before, but both managed to run their campaigns right off the road a time of two. It was Barack Obama who came up with a sound plan for winning the nomination, and stuck with it from start to finish.

In this week’s dead-tree TIME, I looked at the amazing Obama campaign operation and how he built it. I also talked to the Democratic nominee himself, who told me that facing a machine as formidable as Clinton’s “was liberating … What I’d felt was that we could try some things in a different way and build an organization that reflected my personality and what I thought the country was looking for. We didn’t have to unlearn a bunch of bad habits.” The biggest surprise for Obama? The internet. “What I didn’t anticipate was how effectively we could use the Internet to harness that grass-roots base, both on the financial side and the organizing side,” Obama said. “That, I think, was probably one of the biggest surprises of the campaign, just how powerfully our message merged with the social networking and the power of the Internet.”

You can read the story here. There is also a podcast of my interview with Obama, and I’ll post the link when I can find it.