Report: Ex-McCain aide Salter penned Obama novel

Michael Calderone
Mark Salter wrote Obama novel
Mark Salter wrote Obama novel

The Beltway guessing game is over! Time's Mark Halperin reported Thursday that the anonymous author behind "O: A Presidential Novel" is former John McCain adviser Mark Salter.

Salter declined to comment to The Cutline. And publisher Simon & Schuster—which has been both heavily promoting the book and asking top Washington journalists not to comment on who may have written it—still hasn't confirmed Halperin's scoop. But so far, neither the publisher nor the putative author is denying it.

The Salter news shouldn't come as a big surprise, considering that Page Six speculated nearly two weeks ago that he was the author. Salter's no stranger to writing, having co-authored books with the Arizona Senator and worked as a speechwriter. And Jonathan Karp, who edited "O" for Simon & Schuster, has been Salter's editor on several past book projects.

Still, Salter told the Daily Beast a few months ago that he tried writing fiction after the 2008 campaign but "didn't have the talent for it, and returned to more reliably lucrative speechwriting."

To judge by the novel's early reviews, Salter may have been right about having more talent for speechwriting. The notices for "O" haven't been too kind, with the New York Times' Michiko Kakutani describing it as "a thoroughly lackadaisical performance—trite, implausible and decidedly unfunny."

(Photo of Salter on board the McCain's Straight Talk Air campaign charter jet on Aug. 4, 2008: AP/Mary Altaffer)