Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is best known as the congressional face of the Obama administration's domestic agenda, but her path to power was paved on foreign-policy issues. In 2007, Pelosi led the charge against Bush's strategy in Iraq, helping pass a key though nonbinding resolution that denounced the president's request to send additional troops to the country. In the Obama era, she has been the most influential voice in trying to push the president, who has maintained many of his predecessor's national security policies, to the left, in particular trying to speed the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. A 25-year congressional veteran, Pelosi first made headlines as an influential voice on foreign policy in 1991 when she unfurled a pro-democracy banner in Tiananmen Square. Since then, she has been a consistent critic of China's human rights record, leading the state-run Xinhua news agency in 2008 to brand her a "disgusting figure."
David Rubenstein was a wonk before he was a tycoon, having served as a domestic policy advisor in the Carter administration. At a time when the Obama campaign has focused its attacks on Romney's record at Bain Capital, Rubenstein's Democratic credentials have made him the White House's favorite private equity guy. He has helped the administration facilitate energy deals, and in 2011 he scored a White House invitation to meet with visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao. The Carlyle Group, the Washington-based private equity firm Rubenstein co-founded in 1987, manages more than $160 billion, with 36 offices around the world, and has counted the likes of George H.W. Bush and James Baker as advisors. Rubenstein is also vice chairman of the board at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he has endowed a chair in energy and the environment. Having signed Bill Gates' "giving pledge" -- promising to donate the majority of his wealth to charity -- Rubenstein is perhaps best known around Washington for his philanthropic efforts, including buying the sole remaining copy of the Magna Carta in order to donate it to the National Archives.
When Chen Guangcheng walked out of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing this past March, it was no accident that he was hand in hand with Kurt Campbell, who led the diplomatic battle to convince the Chinese to allow the blind dissident to take refuge in the United States. Campbell, who served in the Pentagon under Bill Clinton, is responsible for U.S. policy toward some of the toughest hot spots, including China, North Korea, and Myanmar, where he has overseen a historic and surprising warming of ties. One of the authors of the U.S. "pivot" toward Asia, Campbell is likely to see his role grow more important as the United States rebalances its interests away from the Middle East. In 2007 he co-founded the Center for a New American Security, a center-left think tank that has provided a bevy of Obama foreign-policy staffers. Plus, he's half of one of Washington's top power couples: His wife, Lael Brainard, is the undersecretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department.
The most influential House Democrat on foreign affairs, Howard Berman has carved out a perch for himself on the hawkish wing of the Democratic foreign-policy establishment -- supporting, for example, a stringent line on Iran and a complete overhaul of the foreign-aid system. Before the 2010 midterm elections, Berman, a three-decade congressional veteran, chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He is now locked in a tight reelection fight with liberal Democrat Brad Sherman to represent their redrawn Los Angeles district. Win or lose, Berman has proven himself one of Congress's most ardent Israel supporters and earlier this year introduced legislation that would expand Israeli access to U.S. anti-missile technology. He has also served as the congressional point-person on patent and copyright enforcement, vital issues for his Hollywood constituents. Since losing the committee chairmanship to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, he has often found himself fighting a rear-guard action against his Republican opponent, including her effort to slash funding for the United Nations.