'Game Change' Authors: 'We Were Shocked' by Revelations from 2008 Presidential Campaign

From Obama to Palin, new book reveals candidates' moments to forget.

January 10, 2010, 3:35 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2010— -- "Game Change" has yet to hit store shelves, but authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann said on "Good Morning America" today that the book reveals a "shocking" disconnect between the public image and private lives of political figures and their spouses.

Take, for example, the case of Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, whom the authors say the world saw as "a valiant, determined, heroic everywoman, but the Edwards insiders saw an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending, crazy woman."

The day after John Edwards' affair was reported in the National Enquirer, wife Elizabeth, according to the book, became so angry that she ripped her blouse in an airport, exposing herself and telling her husband, "Look at me ..."

Heilemann said, "It was a striking variance between her public image and the private reality. It was very much the consensus opinion among everyone in the Edwards organization, even among people who were incredibly sympathetic to Elizabeth had this point of view about her."

In other revelations from the 2008 presidential campaign, the book also exposes tension between then-candidate Barack Obama and running mate Joe Biden for comments the vice presidential candidate made at a campaign fundraiser.

"Biden had been hanging around with reporters running his mouth about how he was more qualified to be president than Barack Obama," Halperin said.

Obama apparently made his feelings known.

"'How many times is Biden going to say something stupid?" Obama reportedly said after Biden said that it would not be "six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy."

Staffers said Obama's response was as angry as they had ever seen him, according to the book.

"There was always a big concern that Biden would talk too much, say the wrong things," Heilemann said today. "And as soon as that happened, that was the moment they cut back Biden's access to the press."

Vice President Biden's office has criticized Halperin and Heilemann for not checking directly with them to verify accounts described in the book. But the authors said the facts are indisputable.

"We talked with plenty of people around Joe Biden about the facts of the book," Halperin said. "Those facts, those stories, are accurate. They [Biden's office] didn't challenge anything specifically."

Another juicy nugget: The book claims that Sarah Palin famously asked Biden during their first debate, "Can I call you Joe?" because during debate preparations, she repeatedly called her opponent "O'Biden" instead of Biden.

'Game Change' Exposes Politicians Behind-the-Scenes

The book also claims that after her second network interview with Kate Couric, Palin expressed regret for taking the vice presidential nomination.

"If I'd known everything I know now, I would not have done this," Palin is quoted as saying.

So far, only a Palin spokesperson has offered a comment, calling the descriptions inaccurate. Halperin and Heilemann said their book is based on interviews with more than 300 people, and that many of the revelations don't come from quotes but, rather, paraphrased statements.

The authors of "Game Change" also explored comments that arguably became -- or might become -- game changers for the careers of high-profile figures from the campaign.

Former President Bill Clinton received flak from his comment that Obama's campaign was "the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." But he made an even more dismissive comment about Obama in private with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, according to the book.

"A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee," Clinton reportedly said.

Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton reportedly created a war room within her campaign war room, with staffers poised to deal with "a serious extramarital affair" by the former president, according to the book.

When Clinton was offered the job of secretary of state, she reportedly balked, worried about her husband.

"You know I can't control him, and at some point he'll be a problem," Clinton reportedly told the president-elect.

And then there is the controversial remark by Sen. Harry Reid on Barack Obama's race.

"[Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama, a 'light-skinned' African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' as he said privately," according to the book, which comes out this week.

Republicans seized on Reid's comments, arguing that if a Republican had made similar statements, he or she would be asked to resign.

Reid called the president last week to apologize for his comments.

While the former candidates may want to keep the cover shut on the answers, the book will be open to Americans across the country, beginning later this week.