If Halperin and Heilemann have a bias, it’s toward the candidates who stood a chance of winning — except for their recurring obsession with Donald Trump. Tim Pawlenty’s campaign merits four pages. Ron Paul is an afterthought. Iowa straw poll winner Michelle Bachmann gets five pages, and the most memorable thing we learn is that she gets her hair done at a place called Fantastic Sam’s.
Jon Huntsman is the exception, and the authors’ rendering of him is not pretty. Perhaps most damning for a candidate who professed to be above politics-as-usual, the authors report that the Huntsman campaign was behind two of the cycle’s roughest news hits: peddling dirt to reporters on Mitch Daniels’s wife, Cheri, a warning shot intended to keep the former Indiana governor out of the GOP field; and facilitating Politico’s splashy story about Cain’s apparent extramarital dalliances, a revelation that drove the pizza magnate from the race.
Halperin and Heilemann fixate just as much on the Republicans who never set foot on a debate stage and who handed Romney enough breathing room and financial support to capture the nomination. Christie gets an entire chapter (titled “Big Boy”). Daniels, Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee all receive more attention than Cain, who once topped the national polls.