Book: Obama Team Considered Swapping Biden for Hillary

Hillary would not make much of a difference in 2012, presidential advisers concluded.

By SHARE

Some of President Obama's advisers secretly considered replacing Vice President Joe Biden with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the 2012 Democratic ticket but eventually abandoned the idea, a new book says.

The consideration came in late 2011 when Obama's re-election seemed to be in jeopardy. Without telling the gaffe-prone Biden, senior Obama strategists, including then-White House Chief of Staff William Daley, arranged polling and focus groups to assess whether Clinton would be a stronger running mate. But they dropped the idea when research showed that having her on the ticket wouldn't make much difference. Obama won the general election handily.

The story is contained in "Double Down," a book about the 2012 campaign by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The volume goes on sale next week but the book's account of the vice presidential incident was reported Thursday night by The New York Times, Washington Post and Politico.

[PHOTOS: Obama's Re-election Campaign]

Daley told the Times, "I was vocal about looking into a whole bunch of things, and this was one of them." He called the swap research "due diligence" and added: "You have to remember, at that point the president as in awful shape [in the polls], so we were like, 'Holy Christ, what do we do?'"

Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appear onstage at the Vital Voices Global Partnership 2013 Global Leadership Awards gala on April 2, 2013, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
Some of President Obama's advisers secretly considered replacing Vice President Joe Biden, left, with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the 2012 Democratic ticket but eventually abandoned the idea, a new book says.

Former Obama strategist David Plouffe tweeted Thursday that the idea of replacing Biden with Clinton was "not even entertained" by President Obama.

The book also discusses Republican nominee Mitt Romney's selection process for choosing his vice presidential running mate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was a finalist but couldn't get over several obstacles in the minds of Romney and some of his top advisers, according to media reports on the book. One was Christie's weight and apparent lack of physical fitness. He was given a code name by campaign researchers: "Pufferfish."

The book says, "Romney marveled at Christie's girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus. Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, 'Guys! Look at that!'"

[READ: Hurricane Sandy Blows Chris Christie to the Top of the Polls]

Romney's aides also were concerned about possible negative fallout from Christie's previous work as a securities industry lobbyist, a defamation lawsuit from Christie's past, and other parts of Christie's background.

For his part, Christie concluded that Romney's campaign hierarchy was "a gaggle of clowns who couldn't organize a one-ring circus," the book says. After he was criticized for his keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, he confronted Romney adviser Ron Kaufman. "I'm tired of you people," Christie said. "Leave me the [expletive] alone!"

Christie, Biden and Clinton are all considered possible presidential candidates in 2016.

Some of President Obama's advisers secretly considered replacing Vice President Joe Biden with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the 2012 Democratic ticket but eventually abandoned the idea, a new book says.

More News:

  • Opinion: For Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, 2016 May Again Be About Change
  • Political Cartoons on the Democratic Party
  • Opinion: Ted Cruz Could Guarantee Hillary Clinton a 2016 Win
  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.