Barack Obama had just arrived for a fund-raiser at a hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, a soaring sandstone pile of Roaring Twenties opulence that had once attracted the likes of Bing Crosby, Al Capone, and FDR. The date was February 23, 2012, and Obama was in town to collect $ 4 million at a trio of big-money events.
Peering into the sea of faces, Obama spied an old friend, a local Republican activist.
The woman, Obama knew, was close to Florida’s charismatic junior senator, Marco Rubio, at the time considered to be the most dangerous potential No. 2 on the GOP ticket in November.
The incumbent flashed the toothy, expansive grin he uses to defuse conflict, deliver a zinger, or issue a friendly warning. “So, is your boy going to go for it?” Obama asked, loud enough for someone nearby to hear.
The woman certainly wasn’t expecting this sort of welcome. But she had seen this side of Obama before, the puckish trash-talker— not the professor who delivered high-minded lectures to eye-rolling senators. “I don’t know. It could happen,” the woman said with a laugh. Obama’s smile widened. Eyes twinkled and narrowed. The president craned in even closer, hand on her shoulder— Obama’s characteristic gesture of playful confrontation— as his retinue of Secret Service agents scanned the area and aides fidgeted over their folders and schedule sheets.
“Well,” he said, chuckling. “Tell your boy to watch it. He might get his ass kicked.”
av Glenn Thrush (med forord av Evan Thomas).
Eboka er den tredje i en serie på fire fra POLITICO.