The definitive account of the landmark election from two of America's best known political reporters
The election of 2008 shattered political barriers, illuminated undercurrents of race, gender, and class, and ignited an extraordinary battle among some of the most formidable political rivals ever to seek the presidency in Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. It was an election that played out against a backdrop of wars, a shattered economy, and deep pessimism about the future.
Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson followed this campaign from the candidates' first forays into Iowa and New Hampshire to the historic night of Obama's victory celebration. They take readers on a gripping journey through the epic battle for Iowa, Clinton's dramatic comeback in New Hampshire, the racially tinged primary in South Carolina, the stunning endorsement of Obama by Senator Edward M. Kennedy over the Clintons' objections. They reveal the strategic mistakes of the Clinton campaign and the story behind Obama's breakthrough organization. They cover McCain's struggle for survival in the Republican primaries, Sarah Palin, and the economic meltdown that ensured Obama's victory.
Exclusive interviews with the candidates and their top strategists produce intimate portraits of Obama, Clinton, and McCain under stress throughout the longest and most expensive presidential campaign in American history. Balz and Johnson also move far off the campaign trail to listen to voters in battleground states express their deep anxieties about the darkening economic climate and the challenges facing the United States. This book is a riveting account of how this election not only marked a new era in American politics but also offered a test of historic proportions at a watershed moment for our nation.
Political junkies who've had to get by lately on stories of stalled health care reform, used car trade-ins, and beer at the White House will find the fix they crave in The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election. Veteran Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Haynes Johnson team up for this exhaustively researched, objective, and lively account of the journey from the New Hampshire primary to Inauguration Day. Focusing on the campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain, the authors show how the unlikely, inspiring, and downright annoying pieces of the marathon contest came together. Don't look for newsmaking revelations. This book is about perspective. The authors -- who in addition to quoting all the key players draw on unnamed sources and leaked memos and emails -- do succeed in exposing some private, telling moments. They show Clinton informing her campaign manager (and longtime friend) Patti Solis Doyle by email that she's being pushed aside. In another email, Sarah Palin gleefully agrees to give a speech accusing Obama of hanging out with terrorists. "Yes, yes, yes," she writes. "Pls let me say this!!!" For the most part, Obama and his team come off looking focused and cohesive (a portrayal consistent with that in Richard Wolff's election book, Renegade). Meanwhile, infighting and strategic blunders continually trip up his more experienced rivals. The authors even give a plausible answer to the question many have asked since McCain tapped Palin as his running mate: "What was he thinking?" --Karen Holt