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The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008 Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Halperin (ABC News) and Harris (the Washington Post and The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House) illustrate "trade secrets" to political victory with this penetrating examination of the personal lives and political histories of the biggest names in recent presidential politics. From the losers (John Kerry and Al Gore, defeated because they "lost control of their public images") to the potential winners (Hillary Clinton, who, they assert, will have a significant fund-raising and fame advantage if she runs in 2008), the authors extract canny lessons in political strategy. But they offer particularly valuable insights into inadequately understood players like Matt Drudge, whom the authors credit as one of the greatest forces behind the Clinton impeachment and the Gore and Kerry losses, and Karl Rove, a man who, regardless of one's politics, "deserves unique notice for one reason: he is an exceptionally good political strategist." The authors' analyses are savvy and unsentimental, without collapsing into cynicism. Though very topical, the book's comprehensiveness should make it a lasting piece of scholarship—an in-depth, indefatigable examination of American media and politics at the turn of the millennium. (Oct. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The Clintons and the Bushes have occupied the national political scene for nearly two decades and may well do so in the future with the likely prospect of a presidential run by Hillary Clinton. Halperin, political director for ABC News, and Harris, national political editor of the Washington Post, examine the success of these two different political families, based on specific practices that amount to the trade secrets of modern politics. Discounting Clinton's political charisma and Bush's political legacy, the authors focus on the strategies employed by the campaign teams and the lessons they provide for future political contenders. Drawing on interviews with Clinton, Bush advisor Karl Rove, and coverage of the Clinton and Bush campaigns, the authors examine their winning strategies, including meticulous research, prolific fund-raising, and identifying and playing to the candidate's strengths. A good road map for presidential aspirants, this book is also fascinating reading for the voters who will be watching the spectacle. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400064473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064472
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,345,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Halperin is editor-at-large and senior political analyst for Time magazine. He is the author of The Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President and the coauthor of The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008. He has covered six presidential elections, including during his decade as the political director for ABC News. He lives in Manhattan.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With the 2008 Presidential election strategies well underway in covert measures, this incisive and eminently readable book provides an intriguing primer into what it may take for candidates to win in two years. ABC News political director Mark Halperin and the Washington Post's John F. Harris have collaborated to divulge the so-called trade secrets that have been behind the almost dynastic predominance of the Bush and Clinton administrations through past, current and perhaps future terms. It is interesting to note that neither author has been involved with a political campaign from the inside, successful or not, but they do lend a journalistic perspective that provides a great deal of credibility with their combined purview of the political media landscape. Consequently, they express their guarded respect of the political savvy of Karl Rove without sharing a detailed insider's profile of what makes him such a supreme strategist during the heat of a campaign.

On the other hand, Halperin and Harris spend a somewhat inordinate amount of time crediting Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report for much of the vote swaying in past elections. From their vantage point, they view Drudge as most pivotal in the Gore and Kerry defeats. They hold Gore and Kerry accountable to the point that they were not maintaining their public images relative to Drudge's online disclosures about the candidates' personal gaffes and political missteps. The big revelation here is that attempting to rise above the pervasive influence of the Web has apparently become tantamount to political suicide. Drudge's sharpened ability to scoop stories and frame candidates into personas unbeknownst to them has been the commentator's ongoing trump card.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mark Greenbaum on October 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Way to Win is a very good book. I bought it when I needed something to read on the train from D.C. to New York. I was pleasantly surprised by its readability and insights. The Way to Win is a well-thought out, timely, at times fascinating exposition of not just what it will take to win the presidency in 2008, but more broadly how the drastic changes to the way news is reported in this country will affect national politics in the future. The authors' analysis of this new media age, which they dub the "Freak Show," is probably the book's most useful contribution, even more so than their assortment of "trade secrets" to prospective presidential contenders.

The book begins by analyzing the Freak Show. They argue that we live in a new media age, one that has drastic implications for American politics. Focusing mostly on the success of 24-hour news channels (particularly Fox) and web "news outlets" like blogs and the Drudge Report, the authors believe that the way politics is reported and disseminated to the public is far different than it once was. Their pace now is much more frantic, and outlets -- both those new outlets just mentioned, as well as the "Old Media" like newspapers and NBC, CBS, and ABC -- are more likely to report the more salacious, and less substantive aspects of candidates. Candidates unable to appreciate this change, and subsequently adapt, have zero chance of making it through the 2008 campaign and into the White House. To prove their point, the authors take great pains to examine John Kerry's and Al Gore's painful presidential runs. They argue that Kerry and Gore both lost because they did not know how to operate in the Freak Show environment, and the authors use their campaigns to demonstrate exactly what not to do in a 2008 presidential campaign.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on October 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"The Way to Win" professes to provide campaign secrets from both the Clintons and Bushes (read Rove). In reality, it offers little in the way of secrets, though it starts off well by describing the reality of the New Media "Freak Show."

The New Media (talk shows, cable TV, Internet websites) does not have the editorial filters of the Old Media. At the same time, its major occupant - "Freak Show" politics' - goal (and some politicians as well) is not simply to win a point but to persuade voters (and donors, viewers, and readers) than an opponent lakcs the character and credibility to even deserve a place in the contest. Freak Show politics, per Halperin, defeated Gore and Kerry.

How does this happen? Candidates running for office principally on their biography (eg. Kerry) are acutely vulnerable to accusations that it was embellished - the Freak Show targets via a fixation on personality and alleged hypocrisy, and often without even providing clear authorship (rumors work quite well). Regardless, the attacks on Kerry were predictable, and he did not prepare. That is Lesson 1 of Freak Show politics. Lesson 2 covers being ready to comment on a number of other basic topics (eg. religion, current events, current movies). The New Media overwhelmingly favors conservatives - via Fox News, Matt Drudge.

Clinton Politics is the politics of the center, holding that most Americans are less interested in ideology than practical solutions to basic problems. People prefer that politics be polite and compromise-minded. Clinton's style is not to clarify differences but to blur them; its' great weapon is high approval ratings.
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