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Double Down

by and

Double Down Cover

 

 

Excerpt

BARACK OBAMA WAS BACK in Chicago and back on the campaign trail, two realms from which he had been absent for a while but which always felt like home. It was April 14, 2011, and Obama had returned to the Windy City to launch his reelection effort with a trio of fund-raisers. Ten days earlier, his people had filed the papers making his candidacy official and opened up the campaign headquarters there. Five hundred and seventy-two days later, the voters would render their judgment. To Obama, Election Day seemed eons away—and just around the corner.

Working his way from two small events for high-dollar donors at fancy restaurants to a crowd of two thousand at Navy Pier, the incumbent served up the old Obama fire. He invoked the memory of the last election night in Grant Park, “the excitement in the streets, the sense of hope, the sense of possibility.” He touted his achievements as “the change we still believe in.” He ended the evening with a “Yes, we can!”

But again and again, Obama cited the burdens of his station. Although hed always known that as president his plate would be full, the fullness was staggering—from the economic crisis to the swine flu pandemic, the BP oil spill, and the hijacking of an American cargo ship by Somali pirates. (“Who thought we were going to have to deal with pirates?”) He acknowledged the frustrations of many Democrats at the fitfulness of the progress hed brought about, the compromises with Republicans. He apologized for the fact that his head wasnt fully in the reelection game. “Over the next three months, six months, nine months, Im going to be a little preoccupied,” Obama said. “Ive got this day job that Ive got to handle.”

The presidents preoccupations at that moment were many and varied, trivial and profound. In public, he was battling with the GOP over the budget and preparing for a face-off over the federal debt ceiling. In secret, he was deliberating over an overseas special-ops raid aimed at a shadowy target who possibly, maybe, hopefully was Osama bin Laden. But the most persistent distraction Obama was facing was personified by Donald Trump, the real estate billionaire and reality show ringmaster who was flirting with making a presidential run under the banner of birtherism—the crackpot conspiracy theory claiming that Obama was born in Kenya and thus was constitutionally ineligible to preside as commander in chief.

Obama had contended with birtherism since the previous campaign, when rumors surfaced that there was no record of his birth in Hawaii. The fringe theorists had grown distractingly shrill and increasingly insistent; after he won the nomination in June 2008, his team deemed it necessary to post his short-form birth certificate on the Web. The charge was lunacy, Obama thought. Simply mental. But it wouldnt go away. A recent New York Times poll had found that 45 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of voters overall believed he was foreign born. And with Trump serving as a human bullhorn, the faux controversy had escaped the confines of Fox News and conservative talk radio, reverberating in the mainstream media. Just that morning, before Obama departed for Chicago, ABC Newss George Stephanopoulos had asked him about it in an interview, specifically citing Trump—twice.

As Obama made his fund-raising rounds that night, he avoided mentioning Trump, yet the issue remained much on his mind. What confounded him about the problem, beyond its absurdity, was that there was no ready solution. Although Trump was braying for his original long-form birth certificate, officials in Obamas home state were legally prohibited from releasing it on their own, and the president had no earthly idea where his familys copy was. All he could do was joke about the topic, as he did at his final event of the night: “I grew up here in Chicago,” Obama told the crowd at Navy Pier, then added awkwardly, “I wasnt born here—just want to be clear. I was born in Hawaii.”

Obama was looking forward to spending the night at his house in Kenwood, on the citys South Side—the redbrick Georgian Revival pile that he and Michelle and their daughters left behind when they took up residence in the White House. He arrived fairly late, after 10:00 p.m., but then stayed up even later, intrigued by some old boxes that had belonged to his late mother, Ann Dunham.

Dunham had died seven years earlier, but Obama hadnt sorted through all her things. Now, alone in his old house for just the third night since hed become president, he started rummaging through the boxes, digging, digging, until suddenly he found it: a small, four-paneled paper booklet the world had never seen before. On the front was an ink drawing of Kapi‘olani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital, in Honolulu. On the back was a picture of a Hawaiian queen. On one inside page were his name, his mothers name, and his date of birth; on the other were his infant footprints.

The next morning, Marty Nesbitt came over to have breakfast with Obama. The CEO of an airport parking-lot company, Nesbitt was part of a tiny circle of Chicago friends on whom the president relied to keep him anchored in a reality outside the Washington funhouse. The two men had bonded playing pickup basketball two decades earlier; their relationship was still firmly rooted in sports, talking smack, and all around regular-guyness. After chatting for a while at the kitchen table, Obama went upstairs and came back down, wearing a cat-who-ate-a-whole-flock-of-canaries grin, waving the booklet in the air, and then placing it in front of Nesbitt.

“Now, thats some funny shit,” Nesbitt said, and burst out laughing.

Clambering into his heavily armored SUV, Obama headed back north to the InterContinental hotel, where he had an interview scheduled with the Associated Press. He pulled aside his senior adviser David Plouffe and press secretary Jay Carney, and eagerly showed them his discovery.

Plouffe studied the thing, befuddled and wary: Is that the birth certificate? he thought.

Carney was bewildered, too, but excited: This is the birth certificate? Awesome.

Obama didnt know what to think, but he flew back to Washington hoping that maybe, just maybe, he now had a stake to drive through the heart of birtherism, killing it once and for all—and slaying Trump in the bargain. Striding into a meeting with his senior advisers in the Oval Office the next Monday morning, he reached into his suit pocket and whipped out the booklet, infinitely pleased with himself.

“Hey,” Obama announced, “look what I found when I was out there!”

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594204401
Author:
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
Publisher:
Penguin Press HC, The
Author:
Halperin, Mark
Author:
Heilemann, John
Author:
Fass, Robert
Subject:
Elections
Subject:
Politics - General
Edition Description:
CD-Audio
Publication Date:
20131105
Binding:
CD-audio
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Double Down Used Hardcover
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$21.00 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Penguin Press HC, The - English 9781594204401 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Those hungry for political news will read Double Down for the scooplets and insidery glimpses it serves up about the two campaigns, and the clues it offers about the positioning already going on among Republicans and Democrats for 2016....The book testifies to its authors energetic legwork and insider access...creating a novelistic narrative that provides a you-are-there immediacy....They succeed in taking readers interested in the backstabbing and backstage maneuvering of the 2012 campaign behind the curtains, providing a tactile...sense of what it looked like from the inside."
"Review" by , “Compulsively readable. Once begun, you cant put it down....Deeply and knowledgeably reported and presented with all the cool sophistication one would expect from two accomplished political reporters.”
"Review" by , “What makes their book different from others, and so riveting, is the depth of their material....This is no dry history...Its pages brim with scandalous tidbits....This is a must-read for anyone interested in the cutthroat backroom hows and whys of a presidential campaign....And it doesn't hurt that Game Change reads more bodice ripper than Beltway.”
"Review" by , “An amazing piece of work....It's the best book on a presidential campaign I've read by a mile. And its one of the best books on politics of any kind Ive read. As for entertainment value, I put it up there with Catch-22. It is in the top percentile in three quite separate dimensions. First, it is a remarkable feat of reporting. Where was everybody else while all this was going on? Second, it is politically sophisticated: Heilemann and Halperin are extremely smart. Third, it is an absolutely gripping read, because on top of everything else, they can write.”
"Synopsis" by , John Heilemann and Mark Halperin set the national conversation on fire with their bestselling account of the 2008 presidential election, Game Change. In Double Down, they apply their unparalleled access and storytelling savvy to the 2012 election, rendering an equally compelling narrative about the circus-like Republican nomination fight, the rise and fall of Mitt Romney, and the trials, tribulations, and Election Day triumph of Barack Obama.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Heilemann and Halperin deliver another reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, Double Down offers a panoramic account of a campaign at once intensely hard fought and lastingly consequential. For Obama, the victory he achieved meant even more to him than the one he had pulled off four years earlier. In 2008, he believed, voters had bet on a hope; in 2012, they passed positive judgment on what he'd actually done, allowing him to avert a loss that would have rendered his presidency a failed, one-term accident. For the Republicans, on the other hand, 2012 not only offered a crushing verdict but an existential challenge: to rethink and reconstitute the party or face irrelevance — or even extinction. Double Down is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of an election of singular importance.

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