Political Pundits on How to Win the White House

Everyone wants to know who'll take the White House in 2008.

Though they can't answer that question, Mark Halperin and John F. Harris know what it takes for a candidate to get elected, and they reveal their trade secrets in "The Way to Win."

Halperin, ABC News' political director, and Harris, The Washington Post's national politics editor, are two of the country's most accomplished political reporters.

By examining some of the most prominent names in presidential politics, they come up with valuable lessons in political strategy.

For anyone seeking insight into the '08 election, "The Way to Win" is an essential book.

Read an excerpt from "The Way to Win" below:

THE WAY TO LOSE

The collection of winners on that Little Rock stage was the most striking image from the Clinton Library opening. But also in attendance, sitting in the crowd, was a pair of distinguished losers.

Al Gore and John Kerry had never been close, despite the many years they served together in Washington. Now they shared a special bond. Both had been beaten by a man they believed to be less articulate, less capable, less experienced, less virtuous, less worthy, and less intelligent than they. Both had been preparing for the presidency since they were young men, spurred not just by ambition, but by colleagues, friends, and mentors who for a generation had been anticipating their eventual candidacies. Gore and Kerry long had stood out as quintessential strivers, even among fellow senators. Now they looked up through the rain at a man whom almost no one had regarded as presidential material until a couple of years before he got the job. Neither Gore nor Kerry seemed to grasp the reasons for what both considered a cruel hoax of history.

Gore had had four years to contemplate his loss, but for Kerry, the sting of defeat was still fresh that morning. An instinctually competitive man, he had served notice immediately after Election Day that he was eager to try again for the presidency in 2008. To his face, Kerry got handshakes, praise for a race well run, and condolences that the better man had not won. Behind his back, in Little Rock hotel bars ?lled with visiting Democrats, the notion of Kerry running again for president was greeted with derision and mockery, even by people who two weeks earlier had been on his payroll.

If this were a book about all the reasons John Kerry lost the 2004 election, it would be too heavy to hold. John Kerry was beaten by John Kerry, who never overcame the limitations of his dif?dent personality. He was beaten by George W. Bush, who was by far the savvier politician. Deep thinkers might say Kerry was beaten by history, since Democrats for nearly forty years had been at a stark disadvantage when national security was the dominant issue in voters' minds. Here is another nominee for who beat John Forbes Kerry: Matthew Drudge.

If you are reading this book, you probably know who Matt Drudge is. It is a guarantee that most of the reporters, editors, producers, and talk show bookers who serve up the daily national buffet of news recently have checked out his eponymous website, and that www.drudgereport.com is bookmarked on their computers. That is one reason Drudge is the single most in?uential purveyor of information about American politics.

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