John Heilemann

Looking back, the interview on January 30, 2009 would prove to be a game-changer for Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The authors were reporting their book Game Change, which would, upon its release the following year, spend seven weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list, turn the duo into journalistic celebrities, and beget the sure-to-sell follow-up, Double Down, which came out earlier this week.

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Double Down: Game Change 2012, out today, was the fruit of “more than five hundred full-length interviews with more than four hundred individuals,” according to authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, writing in the Authors’ Note.

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The latest journalist to press Mitt Romney on his tax returns is the ultra-resourceful Josh Tyrangiel of Businessweek. Here’s how he cleverly posed the question in a recent interview:  If you’re an investor and you’re looking at a company, and that company says that its great strength is wise management and fiscal know-how, wouldn’t you want to see the previous, say, five years’ worth of its financials?  Alas, no dice. Romney’s response:  I’m not a business.

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Last night, I had the good fortune to be part of a small gathering of reporters assembled by a quartet of top political scientists who have embarked on an effort to analyze voter opinion in the 2012 election at a level of depth and nuance beyond what we’ve managed in past years. A centerpiece of the effort is their attempt to gauge voter response to the ads that are already crowding the airwaves in battleground states.

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On Saturday night at 9 p.m., political reporters across the Beltway will gather round their flat-screens swelling with an odd mix of regret and expectation, like paunchy forty-somethings at a college reunion looking at an old video clip from that great blow-out party years past. Boy, did we have it good, then, and boy is life now dull by comparison. Instead of Obama and Hillary, it's Mitt and Rick. And instead of Sarah Palin, it'll be ... Rob Portman?

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In that moment just before New Hampshire, when it was briefly possible to imagine Jon Huntsman fighting deep into the primaries, New York magazine’s John Heilemann made an astute observation. He pointed out that Huntsman’s real audience on election night wouldn’t be the country or the voters in other early states or even the political media. It would consist of exactly one person: Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire chemical magnate who, if the mood struck him, could take out his checkbook and completely upend the race. “An investment of, say, $10 million — a rounding error on the Huntsman Sr.

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What is it with Barack Obama, contentious blonde political rivals and airport tarmacs? Obama's testy encounter yesterday with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer out on the blacktop at the Phoenix airport put me in mind of his famous showdown at Reagan National Airport with Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries.

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Even as the political world awaits the further unfolding of Herman Cain’s handling of sexual harassment allegations, one of his rivals is on the brink of making a strategic decision that could have an even greater impact on the Republican presidential nominating contest, and on the general election as well. Will Mitt Romney go for a “quick kill” by focusing his vast resources on a serious bid to win the Iowa Caucuses just two months from now?

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From Jonathan Cohn's account of health care reform: After the meeting broke up, a few of his advisers milled in the hallways outside the Oval Office, pondering the prospect of taking up such a high-risk strategy because the president “felt lucky.” As one of them later told me, “It was like, holy shit.” From John Heilemann's article on Obama and Wall Street: For Obama, Wall Street’s cluelessness is a source of intense frustration—“He’s like, ‘What the fuck, you guys?’ ” says a White House official

Foxy

Let’s talk seriously for a moment about Sarah Palin. Now. Now. No eye rolling. Last week brought us word that the good ol’ gal has signed on to serve up some of that common-sense commentary on Fox News, and, like fellow veteran of the ’08 presidential melee Mike Huckabee, she will almost certainly take to the job like a lip-sticked pig to slop. Indeed, by year’s end, I expect Palin to have a show of her very own.

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