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Like David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell exudes ambition, achievement

By Pam Kelley and Mark Washburn, The Charlotte Observer (MCT) Published: November 11, 2012

To finish the book last fall in Charlotte, she often kept a grueling schedule. During the editing process, she said in an earlier Observer interview, she would go to bed at 2 a.m. and be up by 4 a.m.

Once the book was published in January, Broadwell traveled the country doing media interviews and talks. And her fashionable look fit no Army officer stereotype. She favored sleeveless outfits that showed off toned, muscular arms.

The 400-page biography is a flattering portrait of the general.

When she appeared on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Stewart joked, “I mean the most controversial thing is, is he awesome, or incredibly awesome?”

On that same show, she challenged Stewart to a push-up contest to raise money for wounded warriors. She slipped off her high heels, dropped to the floor and pounded out 60 push-ups, besting his 38. He donated $20,000 to a veterans' organization Broadwell supports.

In September, Broadwell once again called on Stewart, who was in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention, to raise money for wounded veterans. In 24 hours, Broadwell, her husband and friends threw together a fundraising barbecue for about 200 people at a Myers Park neighborhood home, with Stewart as guest of honor.

After publishing her book, Broadwell had said one of her next tasks was to finish her dissertation. Petraeus was serving as an adviser. She had described the 60-year-old general to the Observer as a mentor, adding that “he makes me read books that he read when he was young.”

She also continued her fitness regimen. In September, when the Observer asked for nominations for the fittest people in Charlotte, a friend nominated her, noting that the 5-foot-8, 133-pound Broadwell made 20-mile bike rides, ran six to eight miles three times a week and lifted weights.

And her body fat? A lean 13 percent.

Broadwell has continued to work on behalf of wounded warriors, too.

She has served as an advisory board member of the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, which honors veterans.

In October, she attended the Honor the Warriors Bike Ride in Mint Hill, which featured national USO president Sloan Gibson and was organized by the Charlotte-based Military Family LifeStyle Charitable Foundation.

A week ago, she spoke at a benefit for Patriot Charities, a nonprofit supporting wounded warriors in the Carolinas.

Until last week, Broadwell seemed to be a woman who could do anything. Even her Linkedln profile exuded an uber-competence, listing her interests as surfing, kickboxing, wine tasting, foreign affairs and small arms marksmanship, among other things.

As of Saturday, she had become the talk of the nation, but not for her many achievements. Her name was the No. 1 search term on Google, with more than a million inquiries since Friday, twice the number of No. 2 Mike Brown, who was just fired as Los Angeles Lakers coach, and 10 times the number for No. 3 Selena Gomez, who just broke up with Justin Bieber.

Sales of her book have also skyrocketed. On Friday, the Amazon book sales ranking for “All In” was languishing around No. 126,000. By Saturday afternoon, it had climbed to No. 83.

Broadwell has said that she's donating a portion of her book profits to two organizations that serve wounded soldiers.

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