It should surprise no one that renowned journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book, “Rage,” is largely a Washington tale. Woodward is anchored in Washington. The book is about the current American president, who lives in Washington. It largely chronicles meetings that took place in Washington involving creatures of Washington.
The book has already created a stir in American politics. The revelation that Trump told Woodward in February that he knew the coronavirus was bad and deadly, but in March he explained he was purposefully downplaying it, has been big news for days.
The book, which was officially released Tuesday, largely captures the scenes and decisions of the Trump White House during 2020. This includes the impeachment, some of the Democratic presidential primaries, and events around the world, including the Middle East, North Korea, China, and Russia.
But when the Globe obtained an advanced copy, it turned out there was a little of New England in those 392 pages. Here are all of the references.
“I so dream about running against Elizabeth Warren”
Trump granted Woodward 18 interviews from the beginning of the year through August. On Jan. 20, Trump made an unplanned call to Woodward to largely talk about news of the day. The conversation reportedly meandered from a new book out on Trump to polls to the odd decision by The New York Times that week to endorse two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination: Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
Woodward wrote that he asked what Trump made of that.
“I so dream about running against Elizabeth Warren,” Woodward quoted Trump as saying about Massachusetts’ senior US senator. The author noted Trump said these words “loudly with apparent sincerity.”
There are two other references to Warren in the book. One was a video that White House aides showed Woodward and Trump in person following this year’s State of the Union address where there were close-ups of Warren and other Democrats.
“Hate!” Trump said describing his take of the expression on Warren’s face. Woodward described Warren’s demeanor differently, as “bland” and “unemotional.”
Lastly, Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, name-checked Warren in an interview for the book. He said that Biden’s ties to Warren and Bernie Sanders would be a bigger focus of Trump’s campaign in the closing weeks, and that it added up to a “long political suicide note.”
Trump’s uncle, who taught at MIT, has a cameo
Trump has bragged about his uncle and his family’s smart genes for a long time. The idea that he brought it up with Woodward was not news. But Woodward does appear amused that he brought it up in two different conversations.
The first was about how Trump was smart in relation to Barack Obama. Next, the president brought it up when he was describing a meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un about de-escalating tensions over a potential nuclear showdown.
“I know every one of your sites better than any of my own people,” Trump said he told the North Korean leader, presumably referring to American nuclear experts before mentioning his uncle. “He was at MIT for 42 years or something. He was great — so I understand that stuff. You know, genetically.”
Trump then went on, “The top person at MIT came to the office about a year ago. Brought me a whole package on Dr. John Trump. He said he was one of the greatest men. He was brilliant. I get that stuff.”
Trump’s phrase at a New Hampshire rally underscores the main news of the book
The week of the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 11, the nation’s top disease experts gathered to deliver a sobering briefing to governors about what was about to happen with the coronavirus in their states. This was about a month before the nation locked down.
The federal government even issued a press release about the “serious public health matter.” But a day later, Trump was in New Hampshire holding a campaign rally inside a large stadium, where he told the audience that the virus would go away on its own.
“When it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away,” he said at the rally, Woodward wrote.
Smaller formative moments of key characters
There were smaller references to New England in the lives of some well-known Washington players. Woodward noted that former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein first met Robert Mueller when Rosenstein was at Harvard Law School and interned at the US attorney’s office in Boston when Mueller was acting US attorney for Massachusetts.
The book also details how, in 1983, Jim Mattis, who would later become Trump’s first secretary of defense, was assigned to be the executive officer at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island. In that job, he told seven local families in person that their sons had been killed in Lebanon in the terrorist bombing of barracks in Beirut. Mattis suggested to Woodward he has been disapproving of Iran ever since.