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Playbook 2012: Inside the Circus--Romney, Santorum and the GOP Race (Politico Inside Election 2012)

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Two of America’s most perceptive political reporters join forces for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the race for the White House in POLITICO’s Playbook 2012, a series of four instant digital books on the 2012 presidential election. The second edition, Inside the Circus, pulls back the curtain on the pursuit of the Republican nomination, as operatives jockey for Two of America’s most perceptive political reporters join forces for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the race for the White House in POLITICO’s Playbook 2012, a series of four instant digital books on the 2012 presidential election. The second edition, Inside the Circus, pulls back the curtain on the pursuit of the Republican nomination, as operatives jockey for position and strategists vie to fashion a message that can win over all factions of the fractious GOP.   Over the course of a long winter and into the spring, the contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination gathered steam and bubbled over with drama. At times it seemed more like a soap opera or reality show than a political campaign. Inside the Circus, the latest real-time digital dispatch from acclaimed political correspondent Mike Allen and award-winning journalist and author Evan Thomas, chronicles each turn in this endlessly surprising race with reporting straight from the campaign war rooms of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and the other GOP contenders.   What was the thinking inside the Romney brain trust as what was once expected to be an easy ride to the nomination turned into what some have called a “long slog”? How did Newt Gingrich throw the preternaturally poised Romney off his game in South Carolina—and who convinced the former Massachusetts governor it was time to start punching back? Why were the other campaigns caught flat-footed by the rise of Rick Santorum and what does his unlikely ascent mean for the prospect of a brokered convention? From the Iowa caucuses to Super Tuesday and beyond, Allen and Thomas answer all the questions the headlines, polls, and delegate counts can’t address. The stakes are high, the plotlines are still unfolding, and Inside the Circus is your fly-on-the-wall guide to the most fascinating Republican presidential race in recent memory.


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Two of America’s most perceptive political reporters join forces for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the race for the White House in POLITICO’s Playbook 2012, a series of four instant digital books on the 2012 presidential election. The second edition, Inside the Circus, pulls back the curtain on the pursuit of the Republican nomination, as operatives jockey for Two of America’s most perceptive political reporters join forces for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the race for the White House in POLITICO’s Playbook 2012, a series of four instant digital books on the 2012 presidential election. The second edition, Inside the Circus, pulls back the curtain on the pursuit of the Republican nomination, as operatives jockey for position and strategists vie to fashion a message that can win over all factions of the fractious GOP.   Over the course of a long winter and into the spring, the contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination gathered steam and bubbled over with drama. At times it seemed more like a soap opera or reality show than a political campaign. Inside the Circus, the latest real-time digital dispatch from acclaimed political correspondent Mike Allen and award-winning journalist and author Evan Thomas, chronicles each turn in this endlessly surprising race with reporting straight from the campaign war rooms of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and the other GOP contenders.   What was the thinking inside the Romney brain trust as what was once expected to be an easy ride to the nomination turned into what some have called a “long slog”? How did Newt Gingrich throw the preternaturally poised Romney off his game in South Carolina—and who convinced the former Massachusetts governor it was time to start punching back? Why were the other campaigns caught flat-footed by the rise of Rick Santorum and what does his unlikely ascent mean for the prospect of a brokered convention? From the Iowa caucuses to Super Tuesday and beyond, Allen and Thomas answer all the questions the headlines, polls, and delegate counts can’t address. The stakes are high, the plotlines are still unfolding, and Inside the Circus is your fly-on-the-wall guide to the most fascinating Republican presidential race in recent memory.

30 review for Playbook 2012: Inside the Circus--Romney, Santorum and the GOP Race (Politico Inside Election 2012)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eric_W

    This short Kindle Single really needs to be read in conjunction with their other Single, The End of the Line and perhaps an earlier one in their Playbook 2012 series. I avoid TV pundits and daily reportage like the plague, preferring to wait until the dust settles and writers gain a little distance to figure out exactly what happened. I remember avidly reading all the Teddy White "Making of the President" and I've recently started Richard Ben Cramer's "What it Takes", an excellent analysis of the This short Kindle Single really needs to be read in conjunction with their other Single, The End of the Line and perhaps an earlier one in their Playbook 2012 series. I avoid TV pundits and daily reportage like the plague, preferring to wait until the dust settles and writers gain a little distance to figure out exactly what happened. I remember avidly reading all the Teddy White "Making of the President" and I've recently started Richard Ben Cramer's "What it Takes", an excellent analysis of the 1988 election. The authors of these two short works don't approach his high standard but they are quite interesting, nevertheless for their revelations and analysis. Romney, we recently learned from one of his sons, never really wanted to be president, anyway, that he was pushed into the race by his family, although that sounds suspiciously like sour grapes. Ironically it was his business experience that may have hurt him the most, always micromanaging rather than delegating to staffers who were probably more competent at assorted tasks. It didn't help that he had to go through the trials of the Republican primary, otherwise known as the circular firing squad. The primary system, which biases toward the extremes of each party forced him into adopting ridiculous positions which he came to rue later even as his staff, off message as usual, portrayed him as moving back to the center after he won the nomination, especially with the Etch-a-Sketch comment which just confirmed to both left and right that Romney had no core values. The authors treat us to lots of fun inside information about the other dysfunctional candidates like Perry and Gingrich and Bachmann, each of whom had their moment in the sun before going down ingloriously in flames. Romney's ultimate selection was perhaps inevitable, but what a bizarre trip. One insider said, "Romney goes into each state, he’s not building a movement. Instead, he goes in, and it’s a machine. They know how to execute really well and take down another candidate and win. But what they don’t know how to do is lift up their own candidate and sell a vision, sell a movement, and get people excited about him. I think it’s troubling that the turnout is lower than in 2008. This should be the year where Republican primary voters are incredibly excited about getting rid of President Obama. Instead, it’s not been that way at all.” As Nate Silver showed with his data analysis, Romney probably never had a chance given the demographics and Electoral College numbers. These books are fun to read for their "real-time" reporting, but probably won't hold up particularly well as historical records.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Pankau

    I love what Politico is doing with their coverage. Rather than a retrospective at the end of the election, they're releasing episodic mini-ebooks at regular intervals, meaning that I'm reading fresh political coverage in a book. A book! I would come across a retelling of something and realize that the event being described had only happened a month ago. Of course the real problem here is that INSIDE THE CIRCUS came out a week before Santorum dropped from the race, which would have given the narr I love what Politico is doing with their coverage. Rather than a retrospective at the end of the election, they're releasing episodic mini-ebooks at regular intervals, meaning that I'm reading fresh political coverage in a book. A book! I would come across a retelling of something and realize that the event being described had only happened a month ago. Of course the real problem here is that INSIDE THE CIRCUS came out a week before Santorum dropped from the race, which would have given the narrative an effective close. But them's the breaks. Picking up where THE RIGHT FIGHTS BACK left off, ItC tries to frame itself as a chronicle of Romney's quest to secure the nomination. It never really achieves that, so this book feels like a string of loosely-related reports rather than a cohesive political narrative (a Lord of the Rings metaphor evoked in the final pages felt particularly ham-fisted). That said, the reporting is wonderfully in-depth and info-taining. It's a campaign as bemoaned by campaign managers and GOP insiders. There is a little insight into the way Citizens United and Super PACs have changed the race--rather poignant if you've listened to This American Life's coverage of campaign finance--and a lot of insight into the candidates as human beings. We get to see Santorum as the quick-to-anger policy wonk. We see Romney as the almost-too-robotic family man who is trying not to repeat his father's campaign mistakes and is deeply, madly in love with his wife. And with Bachman and Cain out of the way, Gingrich's doughy buffoonery gets a chance to really shine. For politics-as-process and current-events coverage without speculation or ever mentioning the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the issues being discussed, this is a great primer.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    Taking this up in June, 2012, after the G.O.P. Presidential Candidate race is over, lessens some of the interest in this book. It covers the just completed nomination process and the G.O.P. debates, but much of the information isn't all that newsbreaking. But it's a good summary, and possibly an informative insiders look into the Primary battle for those who hadn't had a chance to pay close attention. The book focuses primarily on Romney, and a little into Santorum, and touches on several of the Taking this up in June, 2012, after the G.O.P. Presidential Candidate race is over, lessens some of the interest in this book. It covers the just completed nomination process and the G.O.P. debates, but much of the information isn't all that newsbreaking. But it's a good summary, and possibly an informative insiders look into the Primary battle for those who hadn't had a chance to pay close attention. The book focuses primarily on Romney, and a little into Santorum, and touches on several of the other main candidates as well. Focus is more on the process and decisions than on the positions of the candidates.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Acuna

    I enjoyed reading this account of the Romney campaign, with a bit about Rick Santorum thrown in. While there aren't a lot of anecdotes or pieces of background information that are entirely new to those who read Politico religiously, it was nice to have a chronological compilation. I also appreciated the fairness shown to the candidates by the authors. I am not a huge Romney fan but the authors' show Mitt in a balanced light and should he win the Presidency, it seems he'll govern with fairness an I enjoyed reading this account of the Romney campaign, with a bit about Rick Santorum thrown in. While there aren't a lot of anecdotes or pieces of background information that are entirely new to those who read Politico religiously, it was nice to have a chronological compilation. I also appreciated the fairness shown to the candidates by the authors. I am not a huge Romney fan but the authors' show Mitt in a balanced light and should he win the Presidency, it seems he'll govern with fairness and with a goal of solving real problems. This is the second of a series and I'll plan to read the first (which I've not yet read) as well as the rest when the are released.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jason Stanford

    I can't imagine how hard it must be to run a campaign with your fundraisers and staffers dishing anonymously for a book that will come out in near real time. This will change campaigning for the worse, adding a meta layer of self-awareness to what has been a private activity. Nevertheless, Playbook 2012 is a good summary of what's going on and what Republican insiders think about it. It helped me understand Mitt Romney better, and the nuggets about Rick Perry were great. But if you've been follo I can't imagine how hard it must be to run a campaign with your fundraisers and staffers dishing anonymously for a book that will come out in near real time. This will change campaigning for the worse, adding a meta layer of self-awareness to what has been a private activity. Nevertheless, Playbook 2012 is a good summary of what's going on and what Republican insiders think about it. It helped me understand Mitt Romney better, and the nuggets about Rick Perry were great. But if you've been following the campaign, you already know most of this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    I'm a sucker: $3 for a book of about 100 pages. Probably as good of a timely narrative of the 2012 presidential race as one can get. And Mike Allen knows everything. So, if you're curious about all that GOP on GOP frustration that we saw for the past couple of months as Romney finally pulled ahead of the rest, then this is the short book for you. First read the early installment: the Right Fights Back.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    This semi-real time reporting concept for an ebook is a neat concept. The fact that Politico -- which is pretty well respected and connected -- is behind it gives it the necessary credibility boost. This volume focuses mainly on Romney and Santorum, touching very lightly on the rest of the GOP field.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roman

    First installment was better, but overall pretty good. If you're a religious Politico.com reader you won't find much that you didn't know already. They should have held out for the triple Wisconsin, Maryland and DC win by Romney - since that pretty much wrapped up the primary. they left it open ended like it was still anyones race...when it's actually all but over.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Readable, easy to digest, but not actually that illuminating. Kind of the campaign book equivalent of sugar. Their first e-book was better. This one was too reliant on quotes from various anonymous advisers discussing candidate character.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I found the book very interesting and provided a lot of information into the behind the scenes activities that occur during a political campaign. It also revealed more about the candidates than you would get from just reading their campaign material or listening to their speeches.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Not much new here that wasn't public knowledge and the book ended well before the Herman Cain clown car made its appearance.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Brooks

    I love this behind the scenes, inside baseball, beltway insider stuff. Its fantastic and juicy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    SweetPea

    A quick read with a few interesting tidbits that I wasn't aware of. The ending seemed too abbreviated, as though the last paragraph had been erroneously cut off. Overall a good read though.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Fascinating look at the nomination process. Well written and a quick read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jamison Doran

    A super quick read that gives an interesting overview of the Republican race up until 2012. I'd certainly recommend it to politicos, you can easily get through it in an evening.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rick Cheeseman

    Eh.....ok.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stewart

    A decent up-close account of the 2012 GOP primaries as they unfolded. Certainly leaves one nostalgic for the days when Gingrich, Santorum, and Bachmann were the scariest candidates on the field...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Hill

    I enjoyed the book, however if you frequently read Politico you won't find a whole that you haven't already heard about.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    Fascinating and depressing, and in view of this week's incident(s), quite prescient at times.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Summers

    I love Mitt and Ann Romney's relationship.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    a disappointment. might as well watch msnbc...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  23. 4 out of 5

    Balazs Faluvegi

  24. 4 out of 5

    Reza Shaeri Shaeri

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Noll

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Rusak

  28. 4 out of 5

    James

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathon

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric Robinson

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