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The Secret Side of David Axelrod

The Obama campaign's chief strategist is a master of "Astroturfing" and has a second firm that shapes public opinion for corporations
David Axelrod (right), chief strategist of Senator Barack Obama's Presidential bid, talks with Newsweek's Richard Wolffe on the campaign trail.
David Axelrod (right), chief strategist of Senator Barack Obama's Presidential bid, talks with Newsweek's Richard Wolffe on the campaign trail. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

David Axelrod has long been known for his political magic. Through his AKP&D Message & Media consultancy, the campaign veteran has advised a succession of Democratic candidates since 1985, and he's now chief strategist for Senator Barack Obama's bid for President. But on the down low, Axelrod moonlights in the private sector.

From the same address in Chicago's River North neighborhood, Axelrod operates a second business, ASK Public Strategies, that discreetly plots strategy and advertising campaigns for corporate clients to tilt public opinion their way. He and his partners consider virtually everything about ASK to be top secret, from its client roster and revenue to even the number of its employees. But customers and public records confirm that it has quarterbacked campaigns for the Chicago Children's Museum, ComEd, Cablevision, and AT&T.