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Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America Hardcover – August 6, 2013

3.9 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Dan Balz's "Collision 2012" is the best presidential campaign chronicle in many years. It is a great book, in part because it isn't about what happened as much as about how people in the campaigns were thinking. It is unusual in that it gives proper place to the impact of thought on political outcomes.
– Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

 “Dan's ability to be a fly on the wall is unparalleled.”
—Gwen Ifill, PBS

“The behind-the-scenes reporting throughout—heck, the Christie chapter alone—makes the book a must-read… It was a fascinating ride, which Balz captures vividly in this
most worthy sequel to The Battle for America 2008.”
–Al Kamen, The Washington Post

“This is more than a look back at the last presidential race. It is a close look into the campaign. I lived it every day, but I’m already learning a lot from Dan’s deep reporting. It will go on my shelf as a Bible of the great 2012 race.”
–Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

“Coming from one of the most respected reporters in politics, Balz's account is perhaps the most highly anticipated of the 2012 campaign retrospective genre.”
–Huffington Post

“With a sharp eye for detail, crisp and often evocative prose, an understanding of politics and politicians, and the experience gained over decades as a thoughtful old-school journalist, Balz recreates the rhythms of the grueling presidential year of 2012”
—The Washington Times

“This book is old-fashioned in a good sense…. Specific without being tedious, “Collision 2012” is short on windy analysis and long on attributed quotes and statistics”
—The Washington Post, Howell Raines

 “Balz’s new book, “Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America,” is so full of anecdotes and revelations that it is hard to stop. But I will. Because even though I think this is one of the best political books I have ever read, harkening back to the “Making of the President” books in terms of its richness of detail and analysis, it is not a collection of anecdotes. Instead, it is a searing, unsparing indictment of America’s presidential election system and the way candidates run for office.”
—Roger Simon, Politico

"As the Washington Post’s chief correspondent, Dan Balz is one of a handful of old media lions who can still shape the conventional wisdom; as such his new campaign book “Colllision 2012? is as close to an account-of-record as we’re likely to get."
—Alex Halperin, Salon.com

"Washington Post chief correspondent Dan Balz's new book, Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America, is everything one would expect from the worthy successor to the mantle of Balz's mentor, the late David Broder. Without a trace of snarkiness or the self-righteousness that creeps into too many books by journalists about politics, and without overemphasizing which campaign operative stabbed which one in the back, Balz walks us through the often zany and never boring 2012 election cycle."
– Charlie Cook, National Journal

"Dan Balz, a veteran Washington Post reporter who wrote The Battle for America, 2008, a best-selling account of that year’s presidential race, offers us an admirable sequel in Collision 2012."
– Ed Luce, Financial Times

About the Author

Dan Balz is the chief correspondent at The Washington Post and its former national editor, political editor, White House correspondent, and Southwest correspondent. He is the coauthor of two books, the New York Times bestseller The Battle for America 2008 and Storming the Gates. He is a regular panelist on PBS's Washington Week and MSNBC's The Daily Rundown.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; F First Edition edition (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025947
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Todd Bartholomew VINE VOICE on August 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Longtime Washington Post columnist Dan Balz builds on his earlier e-book Obama vs. Romney: "The Take" on Election 2012 (The Washington Post) with a more insightful and contemplative review of the 2012 campaign looking at what happened, what went wrong, the ups and downs, and what the larger meaning of the election is for the future. Balz certain does break some news by indicating Mitt Romney wasn't sold on running for President a second time and considered staying out before he threw his hat in the ring. While he was still in the exploratory phase of his campaign in May 2011 Romney realized the folly of having to defend the healthcare law he passed in Massachusetts as governor while at the same time attacking the Affordable Care Act Obama passed, and which largely copied Romney's plan. Romney also realized his wealth and how he acquired it would also factor into the class warfare debate likely to be used as a wedge issue in the election. Even before then Romney had polled his family about running in 2012 and overwhelmingly they voted against the idea as did Romney; only his wife Ann and son Tagg voted in favor of him running. Balz also describes the efforts by Ken Langone to draft New Jersey Governor Chris Christie into running that were sold as a "small gathering" that instead was 60 influential and wealthy Republicans. Balz captures Romney's lack of political acumen and sensitivity such as regarding his "self deportation" comments on immigration which Democrats used to bludgeon him with, indicating he had no idea the phrase would cause such blowback.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an enjoyable read because it captures the sights and sounds of the critical events that shaped the 2012 general election and the Republican primaries that led into it. Besides Obama and Romney, it gives a good overview of the prominent Republican primary candidates like Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul.

It gives a big picture of the candidates and their campaign themes, but also describes the little things that were decisive in shaping the voters' impressions of the candidates. It's right up there in the league of Theodore White's classic THE MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT (1960,1964,1968,1972) series.

Author Dan Balz tells the anecdotes of human interest that give life to presidential campaigns. One of my favorites is the good-natured exchange between Mitt Romney's son Tagg and the Obamas after one of the debates:

As the debate ended, Tagg Romney went onstage and approached the president. The week before, during a radio interview, he had been asked what it was like to hear his father called a liar repeatedly during the Hofstra debate. Tagg said it made him want to take a swing at the president.

He immediately regretted the comment and wanted to make amends directly: "He was shaking hands and I just leaned in and said, 'Mr. President, I hope you know how sorry I am for what I said. I didn't mean what I said. I would never want to punch you or anybody else and hope you understand it was an expression that was used badly on my part.' He (Obama) looked at me and said, 'Oh, don't worry about it. If someone said that about someone in my family I'd feel the same way. You're just protecting your dad. You'e a good son. I hope my daughters are as protective of me as you are of your dad.
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Format: Hardcover
Most of Balz's book deals with the Republican side, though there's also some coverage of the new techniques and technologies used by the Obama side. Republicans provided plenty of drama in the primaries, with a colorful cast of characters that included Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, New Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum

Early on (during a 2010 Christmas vacation with family - ten of the 12, including Romney, were opposed) Mitt Romney opposed running for the White House again in 2012, and later even considered pulling the plug after a scathing WSJ op-ed that criticized him for his Massachusetts health plan. Later on others, including Nancy Reagan, David Koch, former president Bush II and secretary of state Henry Kissinger, tried to lure Chris Christie into the race. Christie's response - 'Craziness' - he'd only been governor a few months. Turns out that having Christie as a V.P. partner would have limited Romney's ability to solicit Wall Street contributions because of Christie's status as N.J. governor. Romney asked Christie if he'd be willing to resign to sidestep the SEC regulation, but Christie declined. (Balz suspects that had Christie been selected, Romney may have won.) Regardless, Romney went on to blunder again with his '47%' comment, and then after the election tried to convince author Balz that he 'didn't say that.'

Unfortunately, given that the U.S. is hatefully divided along socioeconomic and party lines, Balz sees the 2012 collision between Obama and Romney as setting the pattern for future contests. He also sees Republicans' veneration of austerity as damaging their ability to attract swing voters, when combined with the new demographics as spelling disaster for their future.
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