ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
The remarkable story of the 2008 presidential election is told masterfully and fluidly in a new book by two of the best political journalists of this or any era: Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson. ”The Battle for America 2008″ is stocked with scoops and original insights from an incredible campaign — a must-read for political junkies. On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Balz and Johnson joined me and ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg to explore some of the many interesting tidbits they unearthed. They publish for the first time a remarkably prescient 2006 memo from David Axelrod, a top political adviser to President Obama, to the then-senator who was at the time strongly considering a presidential candidacy that some were arguing he wasn’t ready for: ”At the risk of triggering the very reaction that concerns me,” Axelrod wrote, “I don't know if you are Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson when it comes to taking a punch.”That memo opened a window to the candidate that the public seldom say, Johnson told us.”That's not the Obama you think of — this cool, incredibly . . . he's full of himself, and ready to go and all that,” Johnson said. “But you see this guy in this memo, he's worried, he can't take a punch, you worry too much about what people say critically of you, and it’s not the Obama we saw. . . . That memo was incredible. But also it was the right way to run. Why the timing was right for him — ready to go.”Axelrod’s early advice is relevant today, 200 days into the Obama presidency, Balz said.”We know from the campaign, he learned what to do. He figured out how to deal with that. We don’t know how he will — we don't know what he will learn from this phase and how he'll come around from it,” he said.The book also recounts the remarkable series of conversations and events that led to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s decision to endorse Obama — despite (and perhaps in part a result of) former President Bill Clinton’s entreaties for Kennedy to support his wife. “The Clintons vs. the Kennedys,” Balz said. “Ted Kennedy was convinced that the Clinton campaign and the Clintons themselves were allowing race to come into the election in a destructive way. And he was angry about that. He was drawn to Obama, but he was also very upset with the Clintons.”Added Johnson: “It’s Shakespearian. The clash of these two families, what they represented, the future.”Click HERE to see the full interview with Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson.
Also today, we checked in with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about the raucous town halls taking place around the country, and the White House strategy for selling health care reform this month. And George previewed for us what’s sure to be an entertaining debate on “This Week” Sunday: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich debating former DNC Chairman Howard Dean on health care. http://blogs.abcnews.com/george/2009/08/this-week-exclusives-newt-gingrich-and-howard-dean.html Click HERE to see the discussion with George Stephanopoulos.