"Double Down," a behind-the-scenes account of the 2012 presidential race by the journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, is out Tuesday. It's the sequel to "Game Change," their 2008 campaign retrospective that became an HBO film by the same name.
The authors, self-styled ringmasters of Washington's political media "Freak Show," are skilled at creating buzz, packing their book with provocative tidbits and a range of splashy scoops -- an impressive feat considering that the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney showdown was the most scrutinized national campaign in American history.
The book has already made headlines: The Obama campaign flirted with the idea of kicking Vice President Joe Biden off the ticket and replacing him with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Romney campaign was startled by what it dug up on Chris Christie in the process of vetting him to be the Republican vice presidential nominee.
But here are 10 other newsmaking items from the book that has Washington transfixed:
1. Obama: 'I'm really good at killing people'
In late 2011, President Obama, "an inveterate list maker," began writing up a list of his achievements on a yellow legal pad. Writing his thoughts down on paper "helped him to quiet his mind." The purpose was to help himself and his advisers reason through the best ways to present his three-year track record to voters.
On September 30, the same day a Predator drone strike killed the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, Obama presented a small stack of yellow legal pages to his aides gathered in the White House's Roosevelt Room.
"Obama didn't need to run through this preamble," the authors write. "Everyone knew the litany of his achievements. Foremost on that day, with the fresh news about al-Awlaki, it seemed the president was pondering the drone program that he had expanded so dramatically and with such lethal results, as well as the death of bin Laden, which was still resonating worldwide months later.
" 'Turns out I'm really good at killing people,' Obama said quietly. 'Didn't know that was going to be a strong suit of mine.' "
2. Obama's secret George Soros summit
Obama's distaste for the ring-kissing demands of campaign fundraising is the stuff of legend among Democrats, so it's no surprise that a meeting with liberal megadonor George Soros in 2010 came up empty.
In September 2010, the White House arranged "a secret summit" between the president and Soros at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, "in hope that Soros would be induced into serious check-writing on behalf of the Democrats ahead of the midterms."
Soros lectured Obama for 45 minutes on the economy. Obama, the authors write, "was annoyed and bored."
"Afterwards, he fumed, 'If we don't get anything out of him, I'm never f--king sitting with that guy again.' "
As for Soros, the hedge-fund titan declined to pony up in any big way for the midterms.
3. George W. Bush called Rick Perry 'chicken-s--t'
After Texas Gov. Rick Perry jumped into the Republican presidential race, long-standing tensions between him and the Bush family began to burst into view. Perry wasn't shy about criticizing the patrician roots of George W. Bush, his gubernatorial predecessor in Texas. Longtime Bush adviser Karl Rove, who thought Perry was unelectable, fired back at Perry
Publicly, the Bush clan claimed not to be offended by the sudden rise of Perry. But privately, Barbara Bush "was hyperventilating over Perry" up in Kennebunkport, Maine. And her son "was steaming."
"At a dinner party in Washington, the 43rd president vented to a Romney ally. "You can't take Perry seriously," Bush said, according to the authors. "He's a chicken-s--t guy."
4. Chris Christie on Newt Gingrich: 'He's a joke'
After the once-fading Newt Gingrich returned with gusto in South Carolina and trounced Romney in the Republican primary, Romney's campaign was forced to recalibrate and develop a game plan to eliminate Gingrich in Florida.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey called Romney to give him some advice.
"Get out of your crouch and kick the s--t out of this guy," Christie said. "That's what you should do. He's a joke. And you're allowing him to be taken seriously."
Romney went on to trounce Gingrich in the Florida primary, drowning him in attack ads.
5. The white-knight scenario