×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

In New CNN Documentary, Gloria Borger Talks to the Men Who Didn’t Win The Presidency

Cable-news networks spend hours of their schedule analyzing the latest moves and actions of the President of the United States. CNN, for at least a little while, will devote time to the people who ran for the office, but lost.

CNN will debut “Almost President: The Agony of Defeat” on Wednesday, August 31 at 9 p.m. ET. In the documentary special, CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger will present interviews with Mitt Romney, John McCain, Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale and examine their years of working toward snaring their party’s nomination only to find the storm of attention around them dissipating in almost a single moment.

“It’s a hard thing to get over,” said Borger, in an interview. She said she was inspired to tackle the project by a photograph of Republican candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, making a trip to Costco just weeks after the conclusion of his failed bid to oust President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. “That sort of crystallized it, to me,” she said. These people were once seen as potential leaders of the free world, Borger noted, and then discovered quickly that the Secret Service coterie and public attention once accorded them fades, and they must return to their regular lives.

“To be blunt about it, losing sucks,” Dukakis remarks during his on-screen interview. In the documentary, Mondale recalls asking George McGovern how long it took to get over losing the Presidency. The response, he said was, “when I get over it, I’ll call you.”

As she worked on the project, Borger said she kept in mind the seminal campaign book “What It Takes” by Richard Ben Cramer. That book examined not only the 1988 race for U.S. President among George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis and Gary Hart, but also took time to probe their inner psyches and learn what gave them the stamina and ambition to take on the project in the first place.

Those who spoke were quite candid, she said. “I was surprised by their willingness” to talk about not only their memories, but their take on what went wrong. Borger said many of the former Presidential candidates have spent much time analyzing their errors – even examining what personality flaws or public reactions might have doomed their efforts.

The documentary, executive produced by Liza McGuirk, includes insights from three senior political strategists: James Carville, Mark McKinnon, and Bob Shrum. All three have been inside some of the losing campaigns.

Borger said she spent hours on the project between other assignments, but was not able to get access to two prominent former candidates: Al Gore and John Kerry. Gore, she noted, has rarely looked back in public on his bid to beat George W. Bush, and Kerry was too busy dealing with his duties as U.S. Secretary of State.

More TV

  • Syfy Cancels 'Nightflyers' After One Season

    Syfy Cancels 'Nightflyers' After One Season

    The George R.R. Martin drama “Nightflyers” has been canceled by Syfy after only one season. Based on the novella from the mastermind behind “Game of Thrones,” the show was seen as a big gamble for the NBCUniversal-owned cable network, as it represented the most expensive series it had ever developed. The network attempted to spark [...]

  • Batwoman Arrow

    The CW's 'Batwoman' Pilot Switches Directors, Adds Dougray Scott

    The CW has added veteran Scottish actor Dougray Scott to its “Batwoman” pilot as well as swapped in Marcos Siega for previous director David Nutter, Variety has learned. The pilot, which stars Ruby Rose as the eponymous caped heroine, is being helmed by DC TV head Greg Berlanti, and was penned by “Vampire Diaries” alum [...]

  • OG Review

    Review: 'O.G.' on HBO

    Jeffrey Wright, the most compelling reason to watch HBO’s new film “O.G.,” is among television’s best actors at switching between codes or manners of being. On “Westworld,” his timeline-toggling android swaps personae so delicately that his performance gains in resonance when recalled in retrospect. (Perhaps that’s why Wright has been so oddly underrated through the [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan Writers Room

    Nahnatchka Khan Exits 20th Century Fox TV for Overall Deal at Universal

    Nahnatchka Khan has signed a four-year overall deal at Universal Television. The deal brings an end to the decade-plus Khan and her Fierce Baby Productions banner spent at 20th Century Fox Television. The move will see Khan exit from her role as showrunner on ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat,” which she also created. The [...]

  • David Ajala

    'Nightflyers' Star David Ajala Joins CBS Drama Pilot 'Under the Bridge'

    David Ajala has been cast in a lead role in the CBS drama pilot “Under the Bridge,” Variety has learned. In the project, when a scandal rocks the medical practice she runs with her husband and their friends, a surgeon rises to the occasion and takes the lead in trying to mend both the practice and [...]

  • A Man Walks Into the Cnn

    CNN Puts Former Sessions Aide in Newsroom Role

    Sarah Isgur Flores, a press aide to former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been hired to help coordinate political coverage for CNN, a move that generated some pushback on social media Tuesday. Politico previously reported the CNN hire. Flores in the past has criticized CNN coverage, even going so far as to refer to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content