At a tense point in Barack Obama’s campaign, his closest friends got together and decided that, whatever it took, they would make him laugh.
It was early May, and Obama was trying to stave off a comeback by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Chatting privately with the candidate before a late-night stop in Indiana, Marty Nesbitt, Valerie Jarrett and Eric Whitaker started riffing about how utterly draining the campaign had been. They began laughing and couldn’t stop — until strategist David Axelrod walked up with a set of distressing poll numbers.
By Peter Nicholas
The Los Angeles Times
Barack Obama leaves Punahou School with Eric Whitaker after playing basketball in Honolulu in August. Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press