Roger Simon: Balz book indicts 2012 campaign
"My favorite political philosopher is Mike Tyson," Messina says. "Mike Tyson once said everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore. (The Republicans) may have a plan to beat my guy. My job is to punch them in the face."
Q: You are pretty tough on Obama in your book.
DB: Neither side rose to the moment of trying to overcome where we were with our paralysis and negativity. Obama decided the best way to overcome that was to win convincingly. Everything we've seen since is that that didn't work.
You write: "No one expected Campaign 2012 to be positive or uplifting . (but) all restraints were gone, the guardrails had disappeared, and there was no incentive for anyone to hold back." One reason the campaign became so negative is because neither side believed the independent vote was large enough to matter. So both sides did everything they could to throw red meat to their base voters.
The base wants to feel enthusiastic about the nominee, and in this environment that means the candidate often has to be harsh on his opponent. One of the things the Obama people took away from (his poor performance in) the first debate was that much of the importance of a debate is to make your voters feel good and not to persuade undecided voters.
You have this wonderful anecdote about Biden landing in Kentucky for his debate, and he immediately takes a call from Obama. After it, Biden is smiling and tells an adviser: "I know we're in trouble." The adviser asks why, and Biden says: "I know we're in trouble because the President just told me to be myself, and that's the first time in four years he's ever told me that."
(laughs) Obama could not have done (the all-out attacking) he did in the second and third debates without the first debate. He had to overcompensate.
In trying to explain to you his infamous 47 percent remarks, Romney reaches for his iPad and starts quoting from it, but he still gets the 47 percent quote wrong. What's up with that?
He can't accept the words he uttered were the words he uttered.
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