'Game Change': New Book Reveals 2008 Campaigns' Messy Moments

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

January 10, 2010, 3:35 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2010— -- While "Game Change" has yet to hit store shelves, the book about the 2008 presidential campaign is already creating a stir over its revelations of nasty moments between political opponents, and even between friends.

Start with, for instance, Sen. Harry Reid's remarks 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 is authored by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, and due 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.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called on Reid, the Senate majority leader from Nevada, to step down, issuing a statement saying: "In 2002, Democrats expressed outrage at Sen. [Trent] Lott and called on him to step down as leader. That same standard should be applied to Sen. Reid and his embarrassing and racially insensitive statements."

Lott resigned as Senate Republican leader in 2002 after he expressed admiration for former Sen. Strom Thurmond, who had run for the presidency in 1948 on a largely racial segregationist platform.

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

In response, Obama said in a statement, "I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed."

While that 'book' may be closed, "Game Change" contains other revelations sure to spark discussion in the coming days.

For instance, the book reveals that then-Sen. Obama was furious at comments his running mate, Joe Biden, made at a campaign fundraiser.

"'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, according to the book.

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 the day after John Edwards' affair was alleged in the National Enquirer, wife Elizabeth Edwards -- described by staff as condescending and intrusive -- became so angry that she ripped her blouse in an airport, exposing herself and telling her husband, "Look at me...," according to the book.

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.

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

'Game Change' Due This Week

"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 tell ABC News their book is based on interviews with over 300 people. They add that many of the revelations aren't based on quotes, but paraphrased statements.

According to publisher HarperCollins' Web site, other questions the book purports to answer include: "How did Obama convince himself that, despite the thinness of his resume, he could somehow beat the odds to become the nation's first African-American president? How did the tumultuous relationship between the Clintons shape -- and warp -- Hillary Clinton's supposedly unstoppable bid? What was behind her husband's furious outbursts and devastating political miscalculations? Why did Sen. John McCain make the novice governor of Alaska his running mate? And was Palin merely painfully out of her depth, or troubled in more serious ways?"

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 this Monday.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events