True Tales from the Campaign Trail finds Democratic and Republican political consultants putting aside their differences to offer entertaining and honest insights into the art of the political campaign. First-hand accounts from across the spectrum detail the trials and tribulations of primaries for Ted Kennedy, Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton; fraught Senate races fought with direct mail; and down-and-dirty tricks pulled in local elections. The variety of funny foibles and lessons learned makes for an engaging celebration of the democratic process and the campaign trail.
Jerry Austin has many tales from the campaign trail, and they’re all true, and all illuminate how we got from there to here.
—David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of First in His Class and Barack Obama: The Story
Jerry Austin is a student of and participant in American political history. For almost fifty years he has been “there” in international and national elections as an observer or representative of corporations, government entities, and candidates for offices from President of the United States to city council member. He is an idealist and a realist and his selected historical actualities are worthwhile—fun for both students and old hands. This book of historical moments in politics is his testimony to reality. As he puts it—free elections give people “hope”—and watching a free election is a “religious experience.”
—Governor Jim Guy Tucker
Jerry Austin’s True Tales from the Campaign Trail is bursting with rare stories about politics and politicians that only an insider could share. This is a chance to be “the fly on the wall” and meet a cast of characters, and I mean characters (Austin included), most of whom have devoted their lives to politics and public service. These days just the word “politics” evokes dark money, broken promises, and Twitter feuds. Austin gives us glimpses of the fun, the good humor, and the enthusiasm that today’s practitioners seem to be missing. Austin takes us from one end of our country to the other and from one continent to another, but always with a fresh sense that we are with him at that rare and insightful moment. From high profile figures like Tip O’Neill and Jimmy Carter to political footnotes like John Jenrette, Austin gets us up close and personal. Reading his book almost persuaded me to run again—for something. When you are with Jerry Austin it is that much fun!
—Governor Richard F. Celeste
Politics at its best: heartfelt, humane and humorous. True Tales from the Campaign Trail is a tonic, an elixir. It reminds us of what politics could be, and should be again. Pull up a chair, sit back and enjoy these laugh-out-loud stories. Like a collection of behind-the-scenes, in-the-locker-room stories from your favorite sports team, this book colorfully portrays the humanity and humor of the characters who play politics at the highest levels. Jerry Austin has captured the best of what is the essence of American politics—flawed human beings fighting hard for their beliefs, and their dreams.
—Michael Curtin, former editor of the Columbus Dispatch and retired state legislator
Jerry Austin has been a leader in bringing change and supporting outsiders, women, liberals, and people of color. He has been dedicated and clear about supporting real democracy. This book is a great, fun read which will keep you laughing and passing it on. It includes lots of behind the scenes looks at the events we know. At the same time Jerry really understands the core principles of campaigns, and this is a great way to learn about real politics and campaigns in a most enjoyable read.
—Celinda Lake, pollster