On many days, Sally Bradshaw, a 49-year-old Mississippian who lives here with her family, makes a point of walking by the chicken coops to visit a shed whirring with incubators. But recently, she has been far away from the chickens and the farm, clearing a path for Jeb Bush to become president.
If Karl Rove was known as the charismatic George W. Bush’s brain, Ms. Bradshaw is the brainier Bush’s muscle. As Jeb Bush’s facilitator, enforcer and sounding board for 20 years, Ms. Bradshaw does the political trench work that allows her boss to keep his head in the policy clouds.
Just last week, the woman Mr. Bush called his “closest adviser for the entirety of my political career” helped drive Mitt Romney, for whom she once worked, out of the race by poaching his former Iowa director — all part of her mission to recruit top talent, raise millions of dollars and direct the policy rollout of the quickly evolving Bush campaign.
Exceedingly private — she often remarks that she would like to disappear to run a bookshop — Ms. Bradshaw speaks with a heavy Southern accent that masks a steely, direct demeanor and a knack for cutting to the quick. The daughter of a high school teacher and a dentist from Greenville, Miss., she has disciplined some subordinates in her previous roles as Mr. Bush’s campaign manager, chief of staff and overall top operative, putting red stickers on incomplete work, exiling enemies from Mr. Bush’s orbit and clashing with Mr. Rove over his failure to heed her warnings about Florida’s vulnerability in the 2000 presidential election.