Yesterday, the media got a preview of some of the juicy details packed in Double Down, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's sequel to 2008's Game Change that details the drama behind the 2012 election.
The biggest bombshell: Top aides in President Barack Obama's inner circle were considering replacing Vice President Joe Biden with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as his running mate, though the White House and campaign insiders have since said the change was never seriously considered.
Today, even more colorful anecdotes hit the press, as anticipation for Double Down builds nearing its Tuesday release date. Here are some highlights as reported by Politico's Mike Allen and The Washington Post's Sean Sullivan and Philip Rucker.
Clinton's interesting, profane metaphor
In 2012, Bill Clinton campaigned vigorously for Obama. Behind the scenes, their relationship was tense, and things got even more awkward when Clinton called Mitt Romney's business record at Bain Capital "sterling."
While Clinton might have admired Romney's business acumen, he had little respect for his campaigning skills. "He really shouldn't be speaking to people in public," Clinton reportedly said of Romney after the infamous "47 percent" video surfaced.
Romney's gaffes, according to the book, led Clinton to repeatedly tell his friends that Obama was "luckier than a dog with two dicks." Hadn't heard that one before, Mr. President, thanks.
Debate life support
The first presidential debate in Denver was a complete disaster for Obama. The president "looked worn out, uncomfortable, and embarrassed to be there," noted The Daily Beast's Michael Medved at the time, while Romney came off as sharp, tough, and energetic.
Afterwards, according to the book, Obama's advisers began "offering recitations" of the debate transcript and laughed "deliriously over the absurdity and horror of the circumstances." The president's chief debate coach, Ron Klain, reportedly took the "debate-on-a-page" strategy from the Al Gore campaign and tried to force Obama to focus on his strengths.
It apparently worked. Obama, according to the book, brought a new energy to debate practice, and was chastised by Klain — who shouted pointers like, "Fast and hammy! Fast and hammy!" — when his delivery became too "lugubrious."
Obama ended up scoring a modest victory in the second debate at Hofstra University on Long Island.
George W. Bush isn't the only politician who loved giving colorful nicknames. Double Down shares the code-names for Romney's potential running mates:
- Pufferfish: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
- Fishconsin: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)
- Lakefish: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
- Filet-O-Fish: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
- Pescado: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Romney, of course, eventually picked Fishconsin...err, Ryan, who he then mistakenly introduced as "the next president of the United States."
Mitt Romney made fun of Chris Christie for being fat
The Romney campaign ultimately decided against Chris Christie as a running mate, partly because of concerns over his weight, according to the book. It turns out that Christie's weight problems bothered Romney personally, with the health-obsessed candidate openly mocking Christie in front of his aides.
"Romney marveled at Christie’s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus," according to the book. "Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, 'Guys! Look at that!'"
But Christie gave as good as he got, particularly after his speech at the Republican National Convention.
Back then, Politico labeled it a "prime-time belly-flop" as conservative pundits wondered whether Christie spoke "too many words about himself and too few about Romney." In public, Christie and Romney played nice.
But, according to Double Down, the real situation was much less sanguine. After hearing the criticism, Christie reportedly found Romney adviser Ron Kaufman in the concourse and berated him.
"I'm tired of you people!" the book reports Christie as saying. "Leave me the [expletive] alone!"
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