The Message

The Reselling of President Obama


By Richard Wolffe

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They had 99 problems but Mitt Romney wasn’t one.

At the start of an epic election, the team trying to reelect President Obama faced a mountain of challenges: a dismal economy, the faded hopes of the first campaign, and a struggle to raise enough cash to compete. No president had risen so fast, or fallen so far, in the modern era. And no president in living memory had earned a second term in such troubled times. To resell the president, they needed to redefine the world they were living in. They needed to retell their own story and rewrite the characters.

They needed to find The Message.

But first, they needed to fight the enemy within: each other. For six years they kept a lid on their internal disputes-the ego clashes, the disappointed ambitions, and the battle to control the Obama brand. Everything was out of public view and under wraps. They called their style No Drama Obama, and the phrase matched the mood of the candidate. But it was never completely true.

In 2008 they found a way around their rivalries. Four years later, their hostilities threatened to undermine the reelection of a president at a time when most voters were deeply unhappy and ready for change.

Drawing on unrivaled access to the key characters, The Message tells the inside story of the Mad Men-the marketers, message-shapers, and admakers-who held the Obama presidency in their hands.


    "If you really want to know what happened inside the Obama campaign, this is the one book that will take you there."
    Michele Norris, National Public Radio
  • "A sharp, eye-opening look at campaign politics and some of the often unlikable but inarguably effective operatives who populate the West Wing and its environs."
    Kirkus (Starred Review)
  • "A journalist's eye and a historian's breadth and command."
    Ken Burns, award-winning filmmaker
  • "Wolffe's brisk, well-written narrative is fully in the tradition of Theodore White and Richard Ben Cramer, capturing a pivotal presidential contest dominated by one of the most luminous figures in modern American history."
    Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage
  • "Insightful . . . a thoughtful meditation on Mr. Obama's life and character."
    Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
  • "Clear, concise, and well-written . . . will please the millions who lived and died with every test of the campaign."
    Ted Widmer, Washington Post
  • "If your gift list includes both Obama loyalists craving encouragement and Obama opponents craving insight into their adversaries' thinking, consider . . . this product of exclusive interviews with the president and his inner circle."
    Alan Wallace, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  • "A real treat . . . hot stuff . . . fascinating . . . There's a lot of candy in there for us political junkies."
    Chris Matthews, Hardball, MSNBC

On Sale
Sep 17, 2013
Page Count
288 pages

Richard Wolffe

About the Author

Richard Wolffe is executive editor of and former senior White House correspondent for Newsweek. His book about the first Obama campaign, Renegade, was an instant New York Times bestseller.

Learn more about this author