Barack Obama: The Contender

In his new mode, he's challenging the idea of Hillary Clinton's inevitability. But going on offense has put him on the defensive

Callie Shell / Aurora for TIME

U.S. Senator Barack Obama in his candidacy for President listens to his introduction at a rally outside the courthouse in Manning, South Carolina.

Barack Obama's Iowa headquarters near the State Capitol in downtown Des Moines has the unmistakable d├ęcor of an insurgent operation: thinning, mildewed carpet; litter from sign-painting parties; recycling boxes full of canvassing tally sheets and empty Miller Lite cartons. But the deepening clutter hasn't covered up all the traces of what the building used to be: a hockey rink, which could hardly be a more fitting metaphor for a political contest that is suddenly getting a lot rougher. The old Dr Pepper scoreboard is still on the wall, but the largely twentysomething crew at Obama Central has another way...

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