If you're going to run for President, or any office for that matter, there are two things that will need to be addressed pretty early on; how am I going to raise money and how am I going to get my name out there.
Barack Obama has excelled at both. Building on Howard Dean's online success in 2004 Obama has taken to the internet to reinvent campaign financing and to build his name recognition he turned to the book and the book tour to raise Obama awareness and to spread his message.
In his piece in the Times of London on the Obama phenomenon, "Barack Obama: The winner", Andrew Sullivan gives us a little insight as to how he pulled it off:
"Obama also knew that he had to find new sources of funding. With the help of some of Silicon Valley’s smartest minds, he set up the first Facebook model for web fundraising. It has become the most formidable money machine in American political history, raising well over $270m from more than 1.7m individual donors. To counter Clinton’s name recognition, he then relaunched his first memoir alongside a new book and used the bookselling circuit to raise his profile. Oprah helped. He was No 1 on The New York Times bestseller list for months."
It was on this book tour that the murmurs of "rock star" began. The tour and its crowds were a clear precursor to the huge crowds that came out on the campaign trail.
How does Obama's books stack up against McCain's? "If bookworms decided the presidency Barack Obama would beat John McCain handily" says Carl Campanile in his New York Post piece "'Book'ies are Betting on Obama." where he compares the book sales of the two candidates.
Obama's "Dreams From My Father" was first published in 1995 and was re-released selling close to 900,000 copies in the last few years. It has been on the New York Times' Best Seller list for 96 weeks.
His latest book "Audacity of Hope" has sold 1.3 million copies and has been on the New York Times' Best Seller list for 21 weeks.
McCain's "Faith of My Fathers," co-written with senior aide Mark Salter was released in 2000 during his first White House run and has sold more than 500,000 copies. It spent 24 weeks on the Times' list. McCain's memoir about his Senate years "Worth the Fighting For" has sold modestly.
There is another book that will have a tremendous effect on the general election and it wasn't written by either candidate. Scott McClellan's newly released memoir “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” is destined to make its mark on the political landscape. McClellan, Bush's press secretary from July 2003 to April 2006, gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of the Bush Administration and it isn't pretty. He recounts how Bush and his top advisers systematically deceived the American public about their reasons for going to war in Iraq and how the current climate in Washington is "broken and dominated by partisan warfare and the culture of deception it spawns."
As for what role the book can play in the lives of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld et al. - well one option is to "throw the book at 'em."
Related: Previous Book Patrol posts
Books Hit the Campaign Trail
What Barack is Reading
The Biblio Campaign Trail: The New Road to the White House
What's Your Candidate Reading?
What the Candidates Should Be Reading
The Presidential Book Debate
Which Book Would You Bring to the White House?