TII: Doubling Down on Campaign 2012

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"Double Down" is the book everyone in the chattering class has been chattering about. It’s the definitive chronicle of the 2012 presidential campaign between President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. My guests are the authors, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, whose new work follows up on their bestselling account of the 2008 presidential race, "Game Change".

Their latest is a blend of deep reporting, juicy score-settling, and salacious gossip -- all stitched together in a romping narrative. With all this -- plus a keen eye for newsy tidbits that are a book marketer’s dream -- the Double Down boys have achieved something rare in political journalism: They’ve established a franchise. Everyone feels they have to talk to them, and just about everyone does. The resulting book becomes a news-making event that the entire political class simultaneously toasts and reckons with.

What I found fascinating as I read the book, and what makes it worth reading, is that most of its interesting reporting scoops haven’t made the national news. Did you have any idea, for example, that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s awful back pain and insomnia accounted for his shabby debate performances? I sure didn’t – and it makes me view the man differently. The book is chockablock full of similar never-been-told stories, and I get into many of them with the articulate authors.

I’ve been friendly with the talented John Heilemann since I was an aide in the Clinton White House and he was at The Economist magazine, covering Clinton, which made it particularly fun to host him at KCRW for the conversation. Heilemann now works for New York magazine and Halperin is a political analyst for Time.



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