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New Book Has Political Tongues Wagging

Much has been made lately of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) race-based comments about then-Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. But “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime,— written by reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin and on bookshelves Monday, is packed full of similarly salacious revelations from the campaign trail and beyond.

Here are a few selections from the book that has the Beltway buzzing:

• Hillary Rodham Clinton was within an inch of declaring a run for the presidency in 2004, but decided to forgo the race to follow through on her pledge to finish her Senate term in New York:

“All the artful answers in the world wouldn’t satisfy her own conscience or drown out the bleating of the anti-Clinton chorus and their amen corner in the press that would greet her if she launched a last-minute campaign. Hillary could hear it now: ambitious bitch, there she goes again, dissembling, scheming, shimmying up the greasy pole with no regard for principle.

“‘I’d be crucified,’ she told [Patti] Solis Doyle.—

• Barack Obama exuded confidence verging on cockiness in the runup to his decision to enter the 2008 campaign.

“The blind faith in, and passion for, Obama was like nothing [Anita] Dunn had ever seen before. Around Hope Fund they joked about it all the time, praying it wouldn’t go to Obama’s head; his ego was robust enough already. They even conferred on the senator a new nickname: ‘Black Jesus.’—

• A cadre of powerful Democratic Senators — Reid, Charles Schumer, and others — backed, and in some instances spurred, Obama’s decision to campaign for president against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bill Clinton’s reputed infidelities (perhaps ongoing) would doom her campaign, they thought.

“Keen as they were for Obama to run, they would never be able to bless him with an early endorsement. Coming out against Hillary would pose grave risks. The Clintons had long memories and a vindictive streak ten miles wide. If Hillary prevailed, they feared — no, they were certain — there would be retribution down the line.—

• The Clintons are described as “reeling like a pair of Vegas drunks the morning after, struggling to come to grips with the scale of what they lost,— after Obama won the Iowa caucus. Bill Clinton suspected the race of being rigged and Hillary Rodham Clinton was utterly stunned. “Watching her bitter and befuddled reaction, her staggering lack of calm or command, one of her senior-most lieutenants thought for the first time, ‘This woman shouldn’t be president.’—

• Hillary Rodham Clinton formed a “war room within a war room inside Hillaryland, dedicated to managing the threat posed by Bill’s libido. … The stories about one woman were more concrete, and after some discreet fact-finding, the group concluded that they were true: that Bill was indeed having an affair — and not a frivolous one-night stand but a sustained romantic relationship.— Rumored trysts included Canadian Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach, wealthy Chappaqua, New York, divorcée Julie Tauber McMahon and Hollywood actress Gina Gershon.

• Obama’s assertions in “The Audacity of Hope— that he couldn’t make a decision to run without Michelle Obama on board wasn’t just hot air. “Obama adored his wife, genuinely believed she was his better half, that he’d be lost without her. … (H)e told his advisors more than once, I’m not doing this if Michelle’s not comfortable.— Obama literally started to cry at one point, thinking of the strain a presidential run could put on his family.

• Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign, before the Iowa caucus began, had started putting together a presidential transition team.

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