It was clear from the start that Plouffe would be the campaign's organizational mastermind. At a strategy session in December 2006, Obama asked about putting together a plan for the primaries. Plouffe (above, second from left) had already worked it out in his head, and spelled out for Obama the state-by-state strategy the campaign would ultimately execute. Now, along with overseeing that plan, he is in charge of all the campaign's many moving parts—media, staff, fund-raising, travel. Plouffe, who went to Obama through chief strategist David Axelrod, his political partner in Chicago, bulked up on electoral minutiae working for Dick Gephardt and helping elect congressional Democrats across the country. Plouffe recognized early on that Iowa would be critical in toppling Hillary Clinton, and drew on experience working for Sen. Tom Harkin to figure out the state. Publicity-shy, Plouffe would "rather have a pen stabbed in his eye than pose for a photo," says an Obama staffer. "He's the perfect manager for Obama," says his pal Axelrod. "Talk about a no-drama guy. He's unflappable. He rarely raises his voice—but he commands attention."