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Power Players of Election 2012

Key advisers, surrogates, and deep-pocketed donors that are shaping the race for the White House

Power Players of Election 2012

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Campaign manager for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff from 2009 to 2011. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer calls Messina (right) "the most powerful person in Washington that you haven't heard of."

Michelle Obama

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Michelle Obama

President Obama's "top surrogate" has a busy schedule these days, speaking at events and touting her husband's accomplishments. She tends to stay away from "hot issues," like abortion and contraception, focusing instead on veterans welfare and childhood obesity. Seven out of 10 Americans have favorable views of her. "Anytime she’s out there is helpful," top Obama adviser David Axelrod told the Washington Post. “We want her out there as much as we can get her time.”

Ann Romney

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ann Romney

Mitt Romney's wife has taken a leading role in his campaign over the past 6 months. She's been called his "secret weapon" on the trail because of her ability, not shared by him, to connect with voters, especially women. Diagnosed with MS in 1998, she's both tough and likable. "She’s a lioness, very competitive and determined," Alex Castellanos, an adviser to the Romney 2008 campaign, told ABC. "She’s an all-in kind of person."