A Quick Read of Politico's 2012 Election Book

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The Right Fights Back, the first installment of Politico's e-book series about the 2012 election cycle by Mike Allen and Evan Thomas, was released at midnight, and naturally, we decided to stay up and read the whole thing. Here are some of the interesting tidbits and pieces of political gossip we picked up.

Mitt Romney's book was a big deal to him

During the third GOP debate back in September, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry started throwing quotes from their respective books at one another, prompting Romney to remark, "At least I wrote my book!" At first glance, the comment seems to be nothing more than Romney being Romney, but Allen says the process of writing No Apology: The Case for American Greatness gave the former Massachusetts governor "a sense of purpose and even a sense of comfort" in the wake of his unsuccessful 2008 candidacy. And he really did write it himself. According to Allen, Romney was assigned a ghostwriter, who he promptly turned into a fact-checker.

Haley Barbour was going to run as the "tech-savvy" candidate

Plans for the former Mississippi governor to enter the race were so far along last winter that staffers had begun scoping out houses in Jackson, where the campaign headquarters was going to be located. Barbour's handlers had even "planned each stop of the [presidential] announcement tour, starting at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in California, hitting New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, and winding back to Jackson for a hero's welcome and mega-fundraiser." A Washington operative was planning "an all-Google infrastructure" (read: a cloud) for the campaign to save money, "but also to create the unlikely profile of Haley Barbour tech-savvy." These plans were put on ice when Barbour's aides got to see the giant "oppo" research folder on the candidate. "Flashing red lights," the duo writes, "included foreign clients of Barbour's lobbying business." Apparently, "some of the material [in the folder] was so embarrassing that Barbour was briefed in private." Soon after, in the spring of 2011, he announced he would not be running.

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The day everyone quit the Gingrich campaign

It happened after a small group of Gingrich aides cornered the candidate for a "come-to-Jesus-meeting" about how he was going to stop listening to his wife so much and leave campaigning to the professionals. The encounter, which last just 20 minutes, left Gingrich "incensed." After it was over, campaign strategist Sam Dawson called Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler to tell him about the mass departures. "We're done," said Dawson, "and the state teams have left." This apparently didn't bother Gingrich, who made no effort to get them to stay on.

Pawlenty's 28-year-old campaign manager Nick Ayres was a huge jerk

Ayres "insisted on total control" over the campaign and "one of [his] first moves was to cut Mary Pawlenty out of scheduling and debate preparation, leaving the candidate caught between his manager and his wife." Mrs. Pawlenty also apparently didn't like it when Ayres had her removed from some email chains. "Headquarters staffers, particularly women, were not happy with Ayres," they write. One lady supposedly left in tears after he spent 20 minutes in his office berating her about Medicare, which was really just a way of trying to find out who leaked a remark he made in front of staffers about Michele Bachmann possibly being on "happy pills." Mary Pawlenty also believes Ayres lied about the campaign going $500,000 into debt, which Ayres denies

Pawlenty's didn't have the fire in his belly

An unnamed top Pawlenty adviser says the candidate was more interested in watching hockey on TV than he was in running for president. Rather than pressing the flesh long into the night, "Pawlenty always seemed to want to get back to the hotel to see if there was a good hockey game he could watch in the sports bar with his body man." He also supposedly wanted to quit early on the day of the Ames straw poll.

The Palin Factor

Initially, the former Alaska governor was "obsessed" with running, monitoring blogs and meeting with her inner-circle in Arizona early in the summer to discuss "potential campaign consultants and war-gamed how to raise money for a race." Her enthusiasm soon wavered, partly because of a theory she had -- never fully explained to anyone -- that Romney had "rigged" the order of the primaries to favor his own candidacy and put her at a disadvantage. 

The Only Thing That Scares Mitt Romney Is Tim Pawlenty

A senior Romney adviser admits Pawlenty's candidacy "really worried us." The adviser explains: "If he was able to run the tortoise campaign that he was running and win the Iowa caucuses, surprise people and just win it, or even surprise people and come in a strong second, he was the candidate who could do Iowa and New Hampshire. We just felt like he was perfect -- he was the personality, he was the background, he was the candidate that could have done that."

Rick Perry Is Not A Natural Fundraiser

As Smith points out candidates for the White House have to make "hundreds, if not thousands of calls" to potential donors, but in his first two months on the campaign trail, Perry made a grand total of 20

Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels Pass

An insider says that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's "heart wasn't in it," though apparently he almost changed his mind after a conversation with Nancy Reagan. As for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a source says his campaign apparatus was "totally baked" and "could have been up and running the next day."

Obama's Still Afraid of Huntsman, for Some Reason

A White House source says Jon Huntsman is the candidate the campaign is "most worried about," even though Republicans are calling him an "absurd candidate" and his polling is still in the low single digits.

What Barack Obama Reads

"Unlike most presidents, who get their information from news summaries prepared by staff," they write, "Obama reads The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, sometimes on paper, sometimes on his iPad." So now you know.

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