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The Axelrod Inner Circle

White House senior adviser David Axelrod. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.
: Two more additions to the weekly Wednesday meetings of White House adviser David Axelrod's inner circle.

Jim Messina: Messina, deputy chief of staff at the White House, is a cagey campaign veteran, having long served as Montana Sen. Max Baucus' lead political guy. Messina joined the campaign after Obama won the primary as chief of staff.

Ellen Moran: Moran, the White House communications director, was one of the few members of the Administration's senior staff not involved in the campaign in some way. She signed on after leading EMILY's List in recent years.

Original Post

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama and perhaps the political person closest to the former Illinois Senator, makes a somewhat unlikely presence in the White House.

Axelrod spent much of the past several decades as a campaign consultant -- one of a small band of nomadic advisers who go from race to race and measure their lives in the space of two year election cycles. (The Fix knows that pace well; it's the metronome of our life as well.)

But, according to many of those who know him best, Axelrod has always had a special relationship with Obama -- he began working with him in early 2003 -- and once the Illinois Senator was elected president it was expected that Axelrod would pick up his life in Chicago and move to join the administration.

As Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times first reported, Axelrod hasn't left his political life entirely behind -- convening a biweekly meeting at his apartment in Washington to hear from a core group of former campaign consultants and aides to ensure the Administration is striking the right political tone.

The membership of that Axelrod inner circle has largely been kept quiet -- until now.

Below you'll find the regular attendees of the Wednesday evening gatherings -- with the caveat that the membership is somewhat fluid and at any given time can shrink or grow depending on schedules.

David Plouffe: Plouffe, the now-iconic campaign manager for Obama's presidential effort, still plays a large role in shaping the Obama brand -- particularly through his work with Organizing for America.

Larry Grisolano: Gris, as he is known within the Obama world, was perhaps the most valuable piece of the polling and media operations. After the election, Grisolano signed on with AKPD, the media firm founded by Axelrod, following the election.

Anita Dunn: A longtime Democratic media consultant, Dunn was a member of Obama's inner circle during the campaign and has continued that role since he became president. She is also the only regular female attendee of the Axelrod gathering.

Joel Benenson: Benenson was one of a handful of pollsters used by Obama during the campaign but as the race wore on, he emerged as the president's go-to numbers guy and has retained that vaunted status after the campaign as well.

John Del Cecato: Del Cecato, who spent time earlier this decade working to elect House candidates at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has been with AKPD since 2001 and is now a partner in the firm. He was intimately involved in writing and producing a number of the Obama campaign's ads.

Dan Pfeiffer: Pfeiffer, deputy White House communications director, has a long lineage in campaigns -- having worked in South Dakota on Senate races in 2002 and 2004 and then as a senior adviser to Evan Bayh when the Indiana Senator was considering a presidential race. When Bayh dropped, Pfeiffer quickly signed on with Obama and rose to become the communications director for the campaign.

Jen O'Malley Dillon: O'Malley Dillon, the executive director at the Democratic National Committee, was a late arrival in Obama world -- having worked for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in Iowa in early 2008. She rapidly emerged as a star on the campaign, however, and eventually oversaw all battleground state activity for Obama in the general election.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 20, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  White House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: White House Cheat Sheet: Grading Obama's Cabinet
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Modern D.C. -- Every decision is a political one -- sort of like Old Time D.C.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 21, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

could you tell me on whose budget all the political advisors, czars, and issue advisors are carried on? Has our esteemed congress approved these? and last but not least how much all of them and their staff are costing us tax payers or is Obama paying for them out of his book royalties?

Posted by: joeyhoh | April 20, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Axelrod is a genius, but I still don't like having guys like him hanging around during day to day operations.. Obama needs to act as if he can win without a lot of daily spin (win 2010/12).. these Axelrod guys can't stop for a minute.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 20, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

People like DRINDL would like to suppress your rights to free speech and assembly and at the same time throw in cheap name calling at no extra charge. How pathetic indeed.

Posted by: leapin | April 20, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

mteng, he's just trying to keep on top of the spin cycle. if he doesn't, his message will be drowned out by the rightwing media and he will lose momentum with his agenda.

Posted by: drindl | April 20, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Ethelyne2000 writes
"WAIT!!! It isn't their money...It's OURS....WE THE PEOPLE!!"

Yes, its 'ours'. And We, the people, choose our leaders via elections. If you don't like how Washington spends money, win some elections.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 20, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

TO: David Axelrod, President Obama, VP Biden, Obama Cabinet Secretaries

(Mr. Axelrod: For your personal and immediate attention: Persons labelled by authoritarian operatives as "dissidents" and "mental defectives" are believed to be among the victims -- perhaps, members of my family and yours.)

"When you see the abuse of power, you've got to speak."

-- VP Joe Biden


Google it.

Any American -- YOU, or someone close to you -- could be its next victim.

Unless Team Obama -- especially AG Holder, SecDef Gates, SecDHS Napolitano, SecTreas Geithner -- take down the draconian Bush-Cheney extra-legal "torture matrix..." array of secret, extrajudicial "programs of personal financial destruction" and government-funded vigilante, terroristic "community stalking"...

...coupled with the proliferation of mind- and body-degrading "directed energy" microwave radiation weapons -- the Zyklon B of a grassroots, government-enabled American Gestapo that continues to "target" untold thousands, if not millions, of U.S. citizens...

...citizens who have not been charged with any crime, but who have been condemned by a covert American Gestapo to a life of "community gang-stalking" and physical degradation...

...tracked with covert GPS devices over a network known to EVERY police force in the nation -- and to federal security, military and intelligence operatives.

Attorney General Holder, you must act NOW to restore human and civil rights in America.

Before the naivete of liberals empowers the saboteurs and Dr. Strangeloves who say "No!" to change.

OR (if links are corrupted/ disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 20, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like BHO's team has transitioned us into the never-ending campaign mode of the Presidency. Great for political junkies, not so great for the average voter who doesn't want 24/7 political coverage and spin.

Posted by: mnteng | April 20, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

god ethelyne, how pathetic. you just prove once again that you teabaggers are incoherent whiners.

Posted by: drindl | April 20, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I believe Axelrod to be a complete out-of-touch IDIOT! If all he observed from the thousands of participants from around the country, at their local "Tea Party", was a demonstration against taxes?? Think again!! How about, We The People...are tired of you giving our money away? How about We The People...think its an utter disgrace on how the Liberals are running around Washington like unsupervised children, spending like it's not their money....OH WAIT!!! It isn't their money...It's OURS....WE THE PEOPLE!!

Posted by: Ethelyne2000 | April 20, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Chris enjoy your analysis and always enjoy you on msnbc. Would you point out that despite all the conservative criticism Obamas gallup numbers are better every day since release of memos and trip south. Today job approval 63/28

Posted by: mikegmullin | April 20, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

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