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Authors Reveal Colorful Insights into 2012 Presidential Campaign

December 13, 2013

Kate Giaquinto
Communication and Marketing
(603) 641-7240

Bestselling authors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin present "Double Down: Game Change 2012" at NHIOP. Photo by Kevin Harkins. On Thursday, December 12, New York Times bestselling authors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin took the stage for the final event of the semester presenting their latest book, Double Down: Game Change 2012, to a standing-room only audience at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library.

Heilemann and Halperin, both political analysts for MSNBC and co-authors of the best-selling book and Emmy-Award winning HBO movie, "Game Change," gave a retrospective look at the 2012 presidential election. 

Halperin explained he and Heilemann tried to focus on the colorful and emotional stories of the campaign rather than delving into political strategy and that they sought to answer the big unanswered questions of the campaign by conducting more than 500 interviews.

"We wanted to write the book like a novel except everything is true," said Heilemann.

One particular story that has received attention focuses on two young Mitt Romney aids who were working on the vice presidential selection process. "They ate a lot of Goldfish crackers and named the vice presidential selection process Project Goldfish," explained Halperin. "Then they gave each of the five finalists [for VP] aquatic nicknames. That's pure color, nothing about that affected the outcome or anything but that kind of color, people like, and it is kind of the fabric of the campaign."

Halperin explained that all the interviews were conducted as deep background, which meant that the authors would not reveal their sources. "It produces a level of candor and openness," he said.

Heilemann discussed how he and Halperin are frequently asked how they were able to get these interviews. "In truth, most people actually appreciate that we are trying to get a sense of what really happened and to capture the nuance of it," he said. "We try to be fair and accurate but also capture what it feels like to be part of one of these campaigns."

The authors joked about the next book in the series and gave their thoughts on the 2016 election, including Hilary Clinton potentially running for president.

"I think at the moment she will run and the likelihood that she will win the Democratic nomination is extremely high not merely because she's Hillary Clinton. You think about those groups, women, African American, Latinos and she has extraordinary power among those constituencies," Heilemann said. "It's time for a woman and I think a lot of people feel that in a powerful, powerful way in the Democratic party, she looks unstoppable."

Heilemann also said the Republican side looks wide open and that there are a number of A-list candidates that could be potential nominees. "The question will be who can fuse establishment electability and respectability with the donor classes' concerns...and also appeal enough with the Tea Party."