Excerpts from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's Double Down are popping up all over the internet, and the newest revelations include Michelle calling Romney a liar, Obama's advisors acting out his worst debates, and Romney not being a fan of the overweight.
According to an except in New York Magazine, Obama's poor performance at the Denver debates seriously freaked his people out. A lot.
And not just his people — Andrew Sullivan wrote a blog post about the Denver debate titled "Did Barack Obama just throw the entire election away?" prompting Obama to joke, "Someone's gotta talk him off the ledge!" (That someone turned out to be David Plouffe.)
Some of Obama's Denver pains were due to weak strategy, but the time leading up to the debate was apparently a lesson in Murphy's Law — the campaign arrived late to Denver, there was a "rushed dinner at a crappy hotel," and the president was "inexplicably" unable to reach Sasha and Malia by phone.
After the poor Denver showing, Obama's advisors took debate prep — with John Kerry playing Romney and Anita Dunn taking Candy Crowley's role — very seriously. When Obama had a particularly bad session, his advisors had a transcript made.
The full transcript was in hand within 45 minutes—and became a source of gallows humor. As the clock ticked well past midnight, Favreau stagily read aloud some of Obama’s most dreadful answers. Soon his colleagues joined in, with Axelrod, Benenson, and Plouffe offering recitations and laughing deliriously over the absurdity and horror of the circumstances.
Not that things were any better on Romney's side. An excerpt on Time's website reveals that Romney never really had a strong preference in the cloak-and-dagger VP selection process he presided over.
The selection process, codenamed "Operation Goldfish" and run in a "clean" room where computers were not attached to the internet (to foil regular Chinese hacking attempts), was a struggle. And Romney's advisors may not have known what to do with Chris Christie, but Romney did: make fun of him.
Punctuality mattered to Romney. Christie’s lateness bugged him. Mitt also cared about fitness and was prone to poke fun at those who didn’t. (“Oh, there’s your date for tonight,” he would say to male members of his traveling crew when they spied a chunky lady on the street.) Romney marveled at Christie’s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus. Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, “Guys! Look at that!”
And Romney's eventual choice, fitness (or fitness photo) fan Paul Ryan, was based more on Romney's comfort than any political calculation.
Mitt meditated on the choice that now seemed inevitable: Ryan. Beyond all the political pros and cons, Romney felt comfortable with Paul. He reminded Mitt of junior partners he used to work with at Bain: eager, earnest, solicitous, smart and not at all threatening. Bob White had a phrase for these buttoned-down go-getters, which he applied to Ryan: “client-ready.”
Other revelations include:
- Bill Clinton on Obama: “He’s luckier than a dog with two dicks.”
- Michelle on Romney: Barack lost the Denver debate only because "Romney is a really good liar."
- The Project Goldfish code names: Chris Christie, Pufferfish; Tim Pawlenty, Lakefish; Rob Portman, Filet o Fish; Marco Rubio, Pescado; and Paul Ryan, Fishconsin. Because no one could ever have cracked those.
[image via AP]