One of those off-the-record moments was an event where President Obama joined reporters for drinks while the campaign was in Orlando, Fla., an event that Hastings partially details in the book.

“The behavior of the assembled press corps was telling. Everyone, myself included, swooned. Swooned! Head over heels. One or two might have even lost their minds,” Hastings writes, as each reporter had a chance to speak personally with the president. “We were all, on some level, deeply obsessed with Obama, crushing hard, still a little love there. This was nerd heaven, a politico’s paradise, the subject himself moving among us — shaking our hands, slapping our shoulders!”

Hastings reveals that the president spent “over an hour” with reporters who later stayed up late buzz over every detail of the evening.

“Did this inform our reporting, did seeing the man in the flesh, in a somewhat staged and casual setting, provide new, deep, and lasting insights?” asks a reflective Hastings in his book. “Yes, I would say, but again, I’m not at liberty to share.”