The man behind Donald Trump's possible 2012 presidential campaign is a registered Democrat who voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
Not only that, but Michael Cohen, an executive at the Trump Organization who doubles as Trump's chief political adviser, once volunteered for 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and worked for a Democratic member of Congress.
This election cycle is different. Late last year, Cohen co-founded the draft Trump website "Should Trump Run?" It has received more than 830,000 hits.
Cohen, 44, is known around the office -- and around New York -- as Trump's "pit bull." Some have even nicknamed him "Tom," a reference to Tom Hagen, the consigliore to Vito Corleone in the "Godfather" movies.
"It means that if somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit," Cohen said in an interview with ABC News. "If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished."
But since Obama's election in 2008, he said he has grown disappointed with the president, so much so that he now describes himself as "offended" by the administration's agenda. America, Cohen said, has become a "third-world nation," echoing words that have become a familiar refrain of Trump's.
"I thought it was the greatest thing ever," Cohen said he felt during the first months of the Obama presidency. "This fantastic orator was going to make a change in this country. He was going to do things that Bush clearly did not do."
His distaste for Obama, and Trump's professed interest in pursuing the Republican nomination in 2012, led Cohen, businessman Stewart Rahr and other supporters to create "Should Trump Run?" as a way both to spark -- and gauge -- interest in a potential Trump presidential bid.
A lawyer by training, Cohen is Trump's special counsel and a juggler of people and projects. One minute he's on the phone with a reporter, the next he's giving orders to an assistant, and a moment later he's finalizing a deal on another line -- and frequently, he's doing all three at once.
With Trump stoking new speculation about his political ambitions every day, Cohen said "the phones have not stopped ringing, the fax machine is off the hook" and his email inbox is clogged. More than a few of those messages have to do with the issue that has catapulted Trump into the headlines recently -- birtherism.
"I am certain that the president was born in Hawaii -- I really am," Cohen said. "I am most irritated with the fact that this president has been exceptionally secretive when it relates to any personal documentation about his past. If you run on a platform of transparency, you should be transparent."
Cohen was the aide who flew to Iowa in a private plane bearing Trump's logo to meet with Republican operatives there in March. He said he may make a similar trip to another crucial early nominating state -- New Hampshire -- in the weeks to come.
Roger Stone, a Republican consultant known for his controversial brand of politics, is long-time Trump associate and a cheerleader for his presidential run (albeit without Trump's blessing). In an interview with ABC News, Stone described Cohen as a "nice guy" and an "enthusiast" but lacking the political expertise to manage the growing interest in Trump candidacy.
"If you need brain surgery, you go to a brain surgeon," Stone said. "You don't go to a dentist."