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Book: First Lady's Staff Rejected Two-Party Camp David Talks

Image: Book: First Lady's Staff Rejected Two-Party Camp David Talks

Monday, 04 Nov 2013 09:45 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The White House wanted to invite congressional leaders to Camp David to improve relations among top officials, but the first lady's East Wing staff shot down the idea, a new book says.

"Who wanted to be cooped up on a cold day in the woods with [Republican Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell?" "Double Down" authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann write of the rejection, The Hill reports.

The book on the 2012 election says that then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley "floated the Camp David plan — a weekend getaway for the congressional leadership and their spouses."

But "Michelle's East Wing staff shot it down: who wanted to be cooped up on a cold day in the woods with Mitch McConnell?"

The book -- a sequel to the pair's "Game Change" -- details some of the efforts made to improve the frosty relationship President Barack Obama has with congressional Republicans.

It said a "smoking summit" for Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner never happened because Obama quit smoking. Instead, the pair, along with Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich and Vice President Joe Biden, played golf in June 2011 as the debt ceiling debate raged.

The book reports that Obama was originally against the golf outing, quoting the president as saying, "Boehner's too good." But he came around to the idea -- and to ensure victory, he announced that he and Boehner would take on Biden and Kasich.

The president and Boehner won.

The book officially comes out Tuesday, but sneak peaks have been reported since last week, including the explosive claim that top Obama aides considered swapping Hillary Clinton for Biden on the 2012 ticket.

Other book anecdotes include that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told Obama's team the source for his claim that Mitt Romney did not pay 10 years of taxes was Jon Huntsman Sr., father of Jon Huntsman Jr., one of Romney's 2012 primary-election opponents.

The book also reveals that Romney's search for a running mate was dubbed "Project Goldfish," and that Romney nicknamed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "Pufferfish"; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, "Lakefish"; Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, "Filet-O-Fish"; Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, "Pescado"; and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, "Fishconsin."

The book says Romney gave Christie a close look for the running mate position — even reconsidering him after first deciding against him. But he had issues with Christie, including his physical fitness and his tardiness, according to the book.

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