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'Double Down' scoop: Chris Christie's baggage, the Clinton-for-Biden swap, and Clint Eastwood's convention speech

You don’t need to DVR Meet the Press every Sunday morning to appreciate Double Down, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s chronicle of the 2012 election. Even with two vanilla main characters like Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, the two journalists behind Game Change have a supporting cast that would make the Coen brothers tremble in jealousy. There’s Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Chris Christie, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Republican-primary sideshow. With Double Down, the two “inside” journalists pick through the carcasses of the losing side, shed light on the decisions of the victors, and wrap every chapter conclusion with an unwritten postscript that seems to say, “Is this really the best way to pick a leader?”

Double Down examines plenty of what-ifs — Hillary for V.P? — and even more what-will-bes, as it sets the table for Game Change III: 2016, which could feature Hillary Clinton squaring off against combative New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Until then, let’s dig into Double Down‘s most-talked-about revelations:

Hillary almost replaced Biden on the ticket

Well, no, not almost. But the White House gave it some serious thought. Biden was loyal to Obama and useful during the first term, but he had crossed wires with the White House on Catholic organizations’ exceptions for women’s birth control as part of Obamacare, and jumped the gun on gay marriage. He was not part of the president’s inner circle, and Halperin and Heilemann compared him and Obama’s doomed Chief of Staff Bill Daley to the ol’ fogey Muppets in the balcony, Waldorf and Statler. Funny then, that Daley — who’d been Biden’s own political director back in 1988 — had argued for Hillary Clinton to take his old boss’s spot on the Democratic ticket in 2012. Clinton had seen her reputation soar in her new duties as Secretary of State, and was beloved by the party. The campaign tested the idea on focus groups, and ultimately decided that Clinton wouldn’t move the needle enough to make the switch. According to the authors, Biden never knew he’d “dodged a bullet he never saw coming.” READ FULL STORY

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