Martin Bashir | January 24, 2013
>>> in retrospect, the president ace victory in 2012 seems almost inevitable. after all, on the one hand you had a truly historic figure and on the other you had an entitled millionaire whose contempt for half the population was only matched by the amount of money he's stashed away on the cayman islands . but this past election was not plain sailing for the president's campaign. michael hastings gives us the inside story of the president's re- election campaign in his new ebook "panic 2012 ." and we're delighted that he joins us. i've read it. it's a rip roaring read. and you say that after the first debate, even guru tony robbins rang up. isn't that adding insult to injury?
>> i spoke to senior obama officials, they said every democratic hack of the last 40 years was calling up wanting to be part of the debate tomorrow and tony robbins so say what's wrong with the president? we need to give him a positive attitude.
>> what did you think of that?
>> i thought that moment, a, was a gift to political journalists , that denver debate. b, it said so much about who obama was. the fact that was the day he didn't feel he needed to really deliver, but more importantly to me one of the most powerful scenes in the book is the young obama staffers in chicago watching the debate unfold and being horrified because they had convinced themselves that if obama was going to lose this, it was their fault, it was on the staffers. but what they saw last night was, oh, my god, our hero let us down. they were so shocked by it.
>> one of the other revelations in the book is where you talk about the fact that the president faces at least ten, ten credible threats to his safety. and i guess that explains why following the inauguration speech when he was seen walking in washington, he was surrounded by countless numbers of agents because he literally can't do that without that level of protection.
>> i mean, it makes me nervous to even talk about it. watching those scenes, i was thinking i am glad i'm not part of the secret services . it would be so anxiety provoking. and also the gun control issue. why is the president so moved by these gun massacres? because he is in the eye of the storm . there is potential violence circling him at all times. and not only do the zret service need to protect him from the real threats, terrorists, these kinds of things, but if obama -- the love for obama is so great, if he had no protection, people would literally tear off his clothes like he's justin bieber. it's incredible to see the impact he has on people.
>> another fascinating detail is probably the most famous ad of the campaign. the one where you hear mitt romney performing his deeply regrettable version of "america the beautiful." you say the campaign, even the president himself, were reluctant to use it. now, we used it relentlessly on our broadcast. why were they so reluctant?
>> i think they wanted to make sure that what they were saying about mitt romney seemed respectful. so that "america the beautiful" ad, a genius ad, axelrod and another gentleman were behind it but it went up twice to obama , president obama had to sign off it twice because he was so worried about protecting the obama image, the brand. is this the message we really want to send? leave the dirty stuff sto the super pacs but should we play it again? at the end of the day they tested the ad enough that they said actually okay, this is going to work. and, man, when that thing popped, it was the perfect timing in the news cycle. all this stuff about the caymans and this and that and it kind of crystallized the entire moment.
>> it was impactful. the book is filled with a lot of revelations and very revealing look at the press. you talk in the book about one member of the press of who tried to get the president to open up to a sock puppet . honestly, did someone actually produce a sock puppet ?
>> a hand puppet , sock puppet . it was a puppet that looked like obama , this individual reporter worked for "the wall street journal ," put the puppet on her hand and started asking the president for an interview and going like this back and forth. i refuse to do the squeaky voice on camera because i'll be forever youtubed, but it was very strange. i learned later obama said that was one of the weirdest moments i have experienced with the med media.
>> we know journalists tend to like a drink. was she drunk in some way?
>> i think she was 100% sober. but the presence of the obama even on the press corps, even on the people who follow him every day. when they are near him they lose their minds. they start behaving in way that is are juvenile and amateurish and they swoon.
>> and, of course, you don't.
>> oh, i do. i totally -- i oh, man, i first met president obama in 2006 when he was a senator. he was visiting baghdad.
>> you mentioned that.
>> and i got to ask my question so i say, mr. president, this is the second time i met you. did i ask the hardball question, drones, civil liberties ? no, i did not. i guess i'm not at liberty to say what i asked about but it was soft.
>> typical. thank you for the admission. michael hastings and the book is called "panic 2012 " a great read. thank you so much for joining us