An engaging fly-on-the-wall report from inside the 2012 Obama presidential re-election campaign.
There were nearly countless reasons for the incumbent to lose that election. However, suggests MSNBC executive editor and former Newsweek senior White House correspondent Wolffe (Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House, 2011, etc.), who has authored two previous books on the president, Mitt Romney was not really one of them. Instead, the president’s numbers were at historic lows, owing almost exclusively to a sputtering economy, and therein lay a problem: The Obama campaign could properly argue that “the economy was better than voters believed it to be,” though it ran the risk in doing so of making the president seem boastful. The Romney campaign had plenty of problems of its own, including an uninspiring candidate and the remarkably strange moment at the Republican National Convention when Clint Eastwood talked to an empty chair (a bigger debacle than it seemed at the time), but the Obama campaign had scarcely a better handle on its vaunted voter-trend technology than its leaders later claimed. By Wolffe’s account, the president himself wanted to fight the Republicans more forcefully than his handlers would allow—and his handlers were often busier fighting among themselves than battling the opposition. Though by election eve the Obama victory was a foregone conclusion, throughout the long campaign, the election was Obama’s to lose, and there were plenty of opportunities to do so. As Wolffe writes, “the reelection of Barack Obama rested on a team that showed few signs of coming together until it was almost too late.”
A sharp, eye-opening look at campaign politics and some of the often unlikable but inarguably effective operatives who populate the West Wing and its environs.