On Sunday, Feb. 10, after he found out he'd won that day's Democratic Presidential primary in Maine, but before his appearance on CBS's 60 Minutes, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) sat down at the keyboard of his computer to write an e-mail. Not to a media consultant or a delegate counter, but to banker Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS Americas (UBS). The two men exchanged notes about the Senate-passed economic stimulus package and that weekend's G-7 economic summit, Wolf says.
A banker as Obama's pen pal? Hard to believe, given the senator's liberal image. But in between rallies and airplane flights on the campaign trail, Obama has also taken time to consult on the economy with billionaire Warren Buffett, whose support of rolling back the Bush tax cuts Obama often cites in his stump speeches. Obama has also been in touch with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who endorsed the freshman senator in January. "When I sat down with him, I found him to be unbelievably refreshing and smart and thoughtful," says Wolf, who first met Obama at the offices of financier George Soros. The UBS chief has gone on to raise more than $1 million for the Obama campaign.
The rest of Corporate America may not be persuaded as easily. After all, Obama is hardly a shoo-in for the C-suite set: He's got a scant three-year record on the national stage, and he wants to roll back the Bush tax cuts that benefit many of the people running big American companies. Plus, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives him the lowest rating of any of the three major contenders for the Presidency, behind Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.). But Obama's sweep of the "Potomac Primary" in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia makes him a very real contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination.