New campaign e-Book: During debate prep, Bret Baier warned Juan Williams to beware of Newt

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Monday morning, RealClearPolitics’ Washington editor Carl M. Cannon and executive editor Tom Bevan will debut “Election 2012: A Time for Choosing” — their second e-Book on the 2012 election.

The e-book does a terrific job of recapping the GOP primary race — and also provides us with some new information (or, at least, new information for me) — a tall order in the Twitter era where campaign coverage is more granular than ever.

For example, we learn that after Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom committed the Etch-a-Sketch gaffe, Romney emailed him not to worry about it.

We also learn that during preparation for the January 16 Myrtle Beach debate, Fox News’ Bret Baier and his producers voiced concern that if Juan Williams asked Newt Gingrich a question about black Americans demanding “jobs, not food stamps,” that Gingrich could hit back hard, “attempting to turn Williams into a prop, as he had done with both Chris Wallace and Baier in a debate in Ames, Iowa.”

But Williams, who is African-American, persisted. “I need to ask it this way,” he persisted, “because it’s offensive.”

… The meeting adjourned with an agreement to construct a second question to help “redirect” Gingrich if he tried to spin the question back on Williams. Jon Huntsman’s exit from the race the morning of the debate left Baier’s crew scrambling to revise the script and reorder the questions, and they never got around to discussing William’s follow-up.

Newt, of course, hit it out of the park.

As Juan asked Gingrich the question, the book reports, a Fox News producer in the control booth yelled: “Juan, don’t do this!”

Matt K. Lewis