WASHINGTON -- In Politico's new and highly anticipated e-book about the 2012 campaign, the most notable thing may be what's not in it: much of anything damaging about Mitt Romney.
For sure, there's color, some of it rather odd. Romney apparently pulls the cheese off his pizza and the skin off his fried chicken, and he subsists most of the time on turkey breast, rice and broccoli. But in the first of four collaborations between Politico's Mike Allen and former Newsweek editor at large Evan Thomas, there's no dirt on Romney like there is on Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The four parts will ultimately become a physical, hardcover bound, Random House published book after the 2012 presidential campaign is over.
Allen and Thomas scored a rare interview with Romney's oldest son, Tagg. But the lack of mudslinging directed toward Romney is another indication of how disciplined and self-controlled the campaign in Boston has been this cycle, and how tightly controlling the campaign has been about the number and responsibilities of their staff.
Perry on the other hand was hit with some harmful revelations in the new book.
The Texas governor was never seen reading news clips on his air plane, a former top fundraiser told Allen and Thomas, and had to be dragged into meeting a high-profile fundraiser from Florida, only to bristle at the bundler's detailed and aggressive policy questions.
"Sixteen questions?" Perry is quoted as saying of North Palm Beach businessman and former Ambassador to Portugal Al Hoffman. "Can you believe the nerve? Can't he go read about my positions on these things?"
The former Perry fundraiser, who left the campaign in October, recounted Perry later laughing with top adviser Dave Carney about Hoffman's request to fly on his plane with him.
"I don't think that's going to be happening," Perry said.
Carney, who Politico reported Tuesday was moved out of the top adviser slot -- something the Perry campaign disputed -- figures prominently in the e-book, titled "The Right Fights Back." He is described as "wide-waisted" and was interviewed over a three-egg omelet at a New Hampshire diner, wearing shorts and a baseball cap. Also the former top adviser to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign, Carney said that he had insights into Romney's campaign based on talking to former political consultants to Romney.
Romney, Carney said, "hired every mercenary in the country four years ago and didn't hire them this time. One thing about mercenaries is that they don't like not to be on the payroll of somebody."
It is true that the Romney campaign has run a much more streamlined, less consultant-driven campaign compared to 2008. Former top paid staff, such as Doug Gross in Iowa, have complained on the record about it to The Huffington Post.
Carney implied that conversations with former Romney campaign aides had led to Perry's confrontation of Romney -- which came out of nowhere in a mid-October debate -- over the fact that the lawn care company that Romney contracted to work on his yard had undocumented immigrants working for them in 2006 and in 2007.
The exchange led to one of Romney's most embarrassing statements of the 2012 campaign so far. "I'm running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can't have illegals," he exclaimed.
But Carney comes in for plenty abuse as well, in particular from Gingrich, who mocks Carney and others with longstanding ties to Perry who left Gingrich's campaign in June to go work for the Texas governor as he prepared to announce a run in mid-August.
"I'll let you decide how successful they've been," Gingrich said of Carney and fellow Perry adviser Rob Johnson.
Unnamed former Gingrich campaign officials were quoted recently attacking Gingrich's wife, Callista, in another serialized e-book series being produced by reporters at Real Clear Politics. The former Gingrich aides said that Gingrich had to "buy off" his third wife with jewelry and a cruise to the Greek Isles so she would not tell him to end his campaign.
But since nearly suffering the end of his campaign over the summer, former Speaker of the House Gingrich has roared to life and now stands as Romney's biggest primary opponent in national polls.
Allen and Thomas write of the Perry campaign that they "misjudged their man and the moment at every turn."
The 88-page electronic publication devotes 13 of its pages to an appendix showing Perry's schedule for October, November and December, provided by "a former staffer."
The e-book ends with some focus on President Obama's reelection campaign. The Chicago-based operation is portrayed as anxious at having no message to sum up the 2012 raison d'etre.
"There's a bit of casting about, throwing ideas at the wall," the book quotes an unnamed Obama adviser as saying. "Win the Future followed by We Can't Wait followed by -- who knows what comes next?"