Clint Eastwood Made Mitt Romney’s Strategist Vomit, and Other Tales

Mitt Romney arrives to deliver his concession speech in Boston on Nov. 7, 2012.

Photo by Rick Wilking/AFP/Getty Images

Dan Balz’s campaign history Collision 2012 is finally out today, which means its hard-won anecdotes and disses can be shared with the masses. It arrives three full months before Double Down: Game Change 2012, which is exactly what someone who hated Game Change would propose as a joke title for the sequel.

But anyway, the most interesting material in Balz’s book concerns the up-and-coming Republicans who were courted, unsuccessfully, to run in Romney’s stead or to join his ticket. But there’s plenty of good stuff about the losers, from Romney on down to Perry. A sampling:


“Santorum is a very good candidate as long as you don’t look at him very long. There’s a reason he set the all-time Pennsylvania record for losing.”


- Newt Gingrich, interviewed two days after Rick Santorum won three nonbinding caucuses and primaries and thus perked up the media. At the time, he was contemplating a “unity ticket” strategy with Santorum, to block Romney.

“He looks over at me and he’s always got that big smile on his face, and I said, ‘Herman, how you doing, you big stud?’ That’s a term of endearment that I would use. Then he kind of had a funny look on his face and I was like, ‘God, I bet he thinks I’m making some derogatory remark at him because of what’s happened here in the last week.’ “


- Rick Perry, remembering what he told Herman Cain right after Politico broke the first stories about Cain’s sexual harassment settlements—this on the night of the “oops” debate.

Christie, keeping note of the time and speaking through applause lines, finished at 10:59 p.m. He walked off the stage and offered one last retort to the director. “Ten fifty-nine,” he said, as he spit out one last expletive.

- Balz describing how Chris Christie dealt with the Romney RNC team’s instructions and worries about preceding his speech with a three-minute promotional video. (He also threated to say “fuck” onstage if the video was cut.)

Stuart Stevens, watching in another room in the hall, was literally sickened. He walked out of the room and threw up.

- Balz on how Romney’s ad guru watched the RNC Clint Eastwood speech.

“I have bad news for you. I think you’re going to have to put up with those assholes in Congress for four more years.”

- Jim Messina, manager of the Obama-Biden campaign, telling the president that he’d beaten Romney.