With a formal candidacy announcement scheduled for Saturday, Obama's advisers must quickly come up with a game plan that sets him apart from other hopefuls, The Washington Post reports.
Obama provided a glimpse of how that campaign will look and feel when he appeared at the Democratic National Committee meeting Friday.
The candidate strode to the stage without any music and there were no "Obama" posters in the audience.
"Our campaign will never be the most rigid, structured, top-down, corporate-type campaign in this nomination," says senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs. "There are plenty of other people that can do 'politics as usual' far better than we can."
Chief media strategist David Axelrod says he would sooner have Obama lose the race than lose the way he is.
Obama is scheduled to make his announcement at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., where Abraham Lincoln delivered his "house divided" speech. Monday is the anniversary of Lincoln's birthday.