Book reports Obama team considered replacing Biden
Thu, 10/31/2013 - 7:48pm
Updated Friday morning... WASHINGTON--The Obama team considered replacing Vice President Biden with then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the 2012 ticket with then White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley pushing for focus groups and polling on the potential swap, according to new accounts of back stage maneuvering. The concern over Biden is reported in a new book about the election, "Double Down: Game Change 2012" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin who obtained the book before the Tuesday release wrote in an article posted Thursday "that the notion of dropping Biden "was pushed by the chief of staff at the time, William M. Daley, despite the close personal rapport Mr. Daley had developed with Mr. Biden, a fellow Irish Catholic and veteran of Washington politics." On Friday morning, Daley, a CBS New contributor, appearing on "CBS This Morning" told co-host Charlie Rose, "I think this, if I may, there's a little bit of an overhype on the book coming out on this issue." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, on CNN Friday morning said replacing Biden was never a question; the research Daley was pushing for took place because "campaigns test everything. They run everything through the polls and focus groups. Whatever proposition it is, they test it out. "What matters here is I know for a fact that President Obama never considered this, never thought about it, never entertained it. The vice president has been a partner of his from the 2008 campaign on. He's been an excellent governing partner and an excellent campaign partner. So you know, again, campaigns test everything, but as the book itself says, this was never considered by the president," Carney said. Here is the passage in question, which Rose read to Daley: "The top echelon of Obama world had in fact been discussing the wisdom of replacing Biden with Hillary. That, more than discussing it, they had been exploring it furtively obliquely in the campaign's focus groups and that Daley himself had been the most vocal exponent of looking into the merits of the idea." After hearing that, Daley responded that he was only doing his job and no one took seriously the idea of replacing Biden. "I think one of the jobs of Chief of Staff is to recommend lots of things out of the box, but not for a moment was there a serious discussion or a belief that Joe Biden should be replaced, period. That doesn't mean issues were not looked it. "Lots of issues in 2011 were looked at. And even in the lead, to be honest with you, when Norah (O'Donnell, the "CBS This Morning" co-host) said "in the Oval Office," anybody who would have brought this idea to the president in the Oval Office, in my opinion, probably would have been thrown out immediately. But in 2011, part of my job as I always saw was to think outside the box and to say what if and maybe we should look at this issue or that issue. "And it was looked at. But it was never seriously looked at in the sense that there was a belief that it ought to be done or needed to be done, and the truth is that any research that was done confirmed the fact that was not an issue voters cared about or thought should be done. And the president in my opinion, I believe then and I do now, not for a moment would he have ever considered that," Daley said. Daley told CBS Obama's re-election prospects in 2011 were not certain, another reason for the extensive testing. "But in 2011 as you remember Norah, it was a difficult political year. So my sense was we ought to look at everything here, because it was a very difficult period politically - but as far as I know, none of the senior people, including myself, thought that was a good idea or needed to be done or should be done, or whether the president would even seriously consider if he thought it was the right thing to do. Nobody that I know of the senior people, including myself, thought at that point that it would be a good idea." Earlier, Daley told Martin in an interview that the research was "due diligence," taking place when Obama's re-election was not certain. "I was vocal about looking into a whole bunch of things, and this was one of them," Daley told Martin. "You have to remember, at that point the president was in awful shape, so we were like, 'Holy Christ, what do we do?'" Daley said.