Democratic strategists say that if President Obama's re-election prospects look shaky, he could dump Vice President Joe Biden from the 2012 national ticket and choose Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate.
It's inside-Washington speculation at this point, but the strategists make a good case for such a shift. "Biden was named in the first place to shore up Obama on foreign policy issues, and Obama doesn't need that anymore," says a former Clinton adviser. That's because Obama has learned the ropes and has assembled a strong foreign policy and national security team including Robert Gates as defense secretary, Jim Jones as White House national security adviser, and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
Elevating Clinton to the vice presidential slot would accomplish several objectives: It would appeal to female voters and the still-powerful cadre of Clinton admirers, give Obama more of a pragmatic luster, and shunt the gaffe-prone Biden aside. And it would theoretically discourage Clinton, a former senator from New York, from challenging Obama in the 2012 primaries, Democratic insiders say, because as vice president she would be considered Obama's heir for 2016. Clinton would be 69 that year, the same age as Ronald Reagan when he won the presidency in 1980.
As for Clinton, she has said that she doesn't plan to serve as secretary of state longer than four years, but so far she has expressed no interest in another presidential run. She was the favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 but lost to Obama after a long series of primaries and caucuses.A White House strategist attributed the speculation about Biden and Clinton to "cocktail party chatter" and said Obama is "very pleased" with Biden's job performance.