How Obama Did It

In an exclusive interview, the first insurgent Democrat in decades to dethrone a front-runner tells of his path to victory

Callie Shell / Aurora for TIME

Obama and wife Michelle, surrounded by close aides and advisers, prepare to go onstage before his victory speech in St. Paul, Minn.

Barack Obama was campaigning last October in South Carolina when he got an urgent call from Penny Pritzker, the hotel heiress who leads his campaign's finance committee. About 200 of his biggest fund raisers were meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, and among them, near panic was setting in. Pritzker's team had raised money faster than any other campaign ever had. Its candidate was drawing mega-crowds wherever he went. Yet he was still running at least 20 points behind Hillary Clinton in polls. His above-the-fray brand of politics just wasn't getting the job done, and some of his top moneymen...

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