A new book claims that President Barack Obama’s advisers explored the possibility of replacing Vice President Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton on the president’s re-election ticket.
Excerpts from “Double Down,” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, add to rumors going back to shortly after Democrats took an electoral beating in the 2010 midterm elections.
Obama advisers, led by then-White House chief of staff William M. Daley, reportedly conducted “extensive focus groups” and polling well into 2011. However neither Biden nor Obama were actually part of these conversations, according to the book.
For his part, Daley confirms his role, but he says it was only “due diligence” and never advanced beyond standard research.
“I was vocal about looking into a whole bunch of things, and this was one of them,” Daley told The New York Times. “You have to remember, at that point the president was in awful shape, so we were like, ‘Holy Christ, what do we do?′”
In an interview on "CBS This Morning," Daley downplayed the idea.
"Not for a moment was there a serious discussion" of dumping Biden for Clinton, but he did say it was "looked at."
"Anybody who would have brought this idea to the president in the Oval Office, in my opinion, probably would have been thrown out immediately," Daley added. The White House also issued a denial Friday morning.
Another reason the campaign probably backed off the idea: It didn't seem like it'd be a game changer in the election.
“When the research came back near the end of the year, it suggested that adding Clinton to the ticket wouldn’t materially improve Obama’s odds,” Halperin and Heilemann write in an advance copy of the book obtained by the Times. “Biden had dodged a bullet he never saw coming — and never would know anything about, if the Obamas could keep a secret.”
Though uncommon, it's not entirely unheard of for presidents to replace running mates in the second term. Thomas Jefferson was the first president to do so. Franklin Roosevelt changed vice presidents twice during his four terms in office. Richard Nixon also replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president because he resigned.
In recent years, there has been rampant speculation about new running mates during campaigns. There was much talk in the 1992 campaign about George H.W. Bush replacing Dan Quayle. And George W. Bush reportedly briefly considered replacing Dick Cheney on the 2004 ticket.
Still, the admission represents a powerful reversal of relations between Clinton and Obama, who were bitter rivals during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.
In fact, in another exclusive released on Thursday, Politico reporter Jonathan Allen revealed in his new book “HRC” that Obama asked Clinton to stay on as secretary of state beyond 2012 . However, Clinton rebuffed Obama’s request, saying it was time for her to take a break from public office.
Of course, no matter how much the relationship between Obama and Hillary has warmed, his relationship with Bill Clinton has reportedly remained strained.
In their book, Halperin and Heilemann report that Obama could “barely endure” spending time with the “often exhausting” ex-president, even as he realized that Clinton’s counsel was essential in Obama’s re-election effort.
The book claims that Obama and Clinton were not even able to finish a round of golf together. Afterward, when a White House aide asked how the golf game went, “Obama grimaced and replied, ‘I like him … in doses,' ” the book claims.
Biden also reportedly got under team Obama’s skin from his efforts to boost his own expected 2016 presidential run and for his impromptu announcement in support of same-sex marriage.
“We can’t have side deals,” Obama adviser David Plouffe reportedly told Biden after finding out the vice president was trying to establish future fundraising commitments from Obama campaign donors.