The eight best tidbits from ‘Double Down’

November 1, 2013

The sequel is here.

Journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann followed up their 2008 campaign book "Game Change" with "Double Down," a detailed account of the 2012 presidential campaign complete with behind-the-scenes looks at pivotal moments, tense exchanges, and colorful details from the race. The book is due out Tuesday, and The Washington Post has obtained a copy. Here's a look at the eight most notable tidbits:

1. Top Obama aides considered swapping in Hillary Rodham Clinton for Biden. The president's public opinion struggles in 2011 prompted a small group of top aides to explore the possibility of replacing Vice President Biden on the ticket with Clinton. They even polled the matter and conducted focus groups. Then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley -- a Biden friend -- was the most vocal advocate of exploring the swap, according to the book. The idea was abandoned in late 2011 when the aides decided that adding Clinton “wouldn’t materially improve” Obama’s chances.

2. Harry Reid's source for Romney tax-evader claim. The book says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Obama's team that the source for his claim that Mitt Romney did not pay 10 years of taxes was Jon Huntsman Sr., the father of Jon Huntsman Jr., one of Romney's 2012 primary opponents. Obamaworld liked Reid's tactic and didn't tell him to back away -- which could explain why he kept pressing the issue. In 2012, Huntsman Sr. publicly denied he was Reid's source.

3. Potential VP nicknames. Romney's search for a running mate was dubbed "Project Goldfish." And his search brought him to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (Pufferfish), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (Lakefish), Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio (Filet-O-Fish), Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (Pescado) and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (Fishconsin).

4. Romney's issues with Christie. Romney gave Christie a close look for the running mate position -- even reconsidering him after first deciding against him. But he had his issues with the New Jersey governor, including his lack of physical fitness and his tardiness, according to the book.

5. Cory Booker's Bain moment. After Cory Booker (D-N.J.) -- then the mayor of Newark and now a senator -- expressed reservations about attacks aimed at Mitt Romney's tenure with Bain Capital, he received a verbal lashing from Patrick Gaspard, a top Democratic official, who told him, "You don't [expletive] get it. You gotta fix this now!" Team Obama wanted Booker to release a "simple, declarative statement" walking his comments back, according to the book. Booker instead filmed a video -- which was his idea.

6. Tension after Christie's Tampa convention speech. Christie's long speech at the Republican National Convention had garnered some negative reviews, and a story in Politico cited people close to Romney panning the speech. What followed was a tense phone call between campaign manager Matt Rhoades and Christie in which the New Jersey governor expressed his displeasure -- and not in G-rated language. "I've worked hard for Governor Romney," Christie told Rhoades. "I like him. And I see that you guys, for whatever reason, are playing this game."

7. Obama and Bill Clinton's unfinished golf game. Still in the early stages of reconciling what had been a tense relationship in the past, Obama and Bill Clinton got together for a round of golf at Andrews Air Force Base in September 2011. But they didn't finish all 18 holes. After playing, Obama was asked by an aide how the outing went. He responded, "I like him ... in doses," according to the book.

8. Biden's pamphlet plan: Biden wanted the Obama campaign to create a pamphlet to send to targeted voters. He wanted to print "millions" of copies.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · November 1, 2013