October 29th, 2009
02:12 PM ET
5 years ago

Bill Clinton hindered wife's VP chances, Plouffe says

Obama was seriously considering picking Clinton as his running mate, a new book reveals.
Obama was seriously considering picking Clinton as his running mate, a new book reveals.

(CNN) - Some Democrats had dubbed the possibility of a Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton pairing last year as a "dream ticket," though the notion that the two once-bitter primary rivals would team up always seemed far-fetched.

But then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was more seriously considering picking Clinton as his running mate than any of his senior aides realized, according to a forthcoming book by former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

Yet in the end, it may have been her husband Bill Clinton - who had made headlines for his outbursts on the campaign trail during the primary season - that ultimately scuttled the possibility.

In the new book, excerpts of which are running in the new issue of Time Magazine, Plouffe said Obama took both him and senior aide David Axelrod by surprise when he insisted on including Clinton on the initial list of potential picks for the No. 2 spot on the ticket.

"Obama was clearly thinking more seriously about picking Hillary Clinton than Axelrod and I had realized," Plouffe writes. "He said if his central criterion measured who could be the best VP, she had to be included in that list."

While Obama continued to consider picking Clinton throughout the summer of 2008, he ultimately eliminated her name from the list in early August, fearing, Plouffe writes, that there "were just too many complications outweighing the potential strengths."

"I think Bill may be too big a complication," Plouffe quotes Obama as saying. "If I picked her, my concern is that there would be more than two of us in the relationship."

The new book, titled The Audacity to Win, hits book stores November 3.

soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. STILL unemployed in Iowa

    Obama is now giving American tax dollars (39 million) from the Obama Stimulus to the United Kingdom to build trucks. Obama is shipping our jobs overseas.

    October 29, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    OMG!!! Obama AND my girl Hilary I would've died and gone to heaven!
    I always thought that this would've been THE DREAM TEAM in politics, and the duo required to get us through one of our darkest hours. Obama, however, proably had it pegged right in regards to Bill. Bill did go off the deep end on a short walk during the campaign, to the extent that I know in my heart somebody told him to sit quietly in the corner until the elections were over,and let the people decide WITHOUT his input. They really did yank his chain, HARD!

    October 29, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. AJ

    Given the way the Obama presidency has started, Clinton should consider it a blessing that she was not asked.

    October 29, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Barbara Davis

    Our president made a wise choice. There would have been "two" many presidents.

    October 29, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. DJ in TX

    Mr. Plouffe is just stirring up more trouble. He should not say things like this. It makes it seem like Bill is hindering Hillary's career.

    I wish people on BOTH sides would stop writing these so called "tell all" books with all this mess in it.

    As a veteran who fought in the Gulf War, I don't like what I see in my country right now. Left vs Right, the racial issue rearing its ugly head again. Why can't we ALL be just Americans? I mean people are saying send our troops to Afghanistan, when they don't know what the hell they are talking about. People are calling Captian Hoh a "coward" when he ACTUALLY fought for that right. Let's see all these who want our men and women in war actually join the military and go to the front lines. Anyway, Plouffe helped run a good campaign, he should now just shut up.

    October 29, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Carnell From The Motor City!

    O.K. Now That It Eases Your Mind As Well As MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Secretary Of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton Is Still An Intrigal Part Of The Obama Administration. So What Exactly Is Your Point?

    October 29, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Hey Big Spender

    "The Audacity to Win" is a horrible book title.

    October 29, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. Fascinating

    Apparently then-Senator Obama was more concerned about the country, and making certain the U.S. would be in good hands should anything happen to him as president, than Senator McCain.

    McCain, by choosing then-Governor Palin, showed that he was more concerned about getting votes and appeasing the extreme right-wingers, than he was about the country's fate should anything happen to him as president.

    Thank God we didn't elect a weakling like John McCain.

    October 29, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. Babs

    Well, personality it doesn't make a difference, as we are now seeing YES WE CAN and CHANGE is all hot air.. it's democratic, Washington politics as usual – Obama lied thru his smile. He said what needed to be said to get him elected – then proceeded to doing the norm. Then wiht Rahm Emanuel trying to control the press and speech - it seems the Constitution to the Obama and his staff is null and void.
    and let's not forget the communist czar – and valerie jarrett knew he was a communist... So we should concern outselves Hillary wasn't his running mate... WE THE PEOPLE have more important things to worry about.. Now let's see if you post this or maybe you have to run it by the White House Staff

    October 29, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Babs

    Well, personally it doesn't make a difference, as we are now seeing YES WE CAN and CHANGE is all hot air.. it's democratic, Washington politics as usual – Obama lied thru his smile. He said what needed to be said to get him elected – then proceeded to doing the norm. Then wiht Rahm Emanuel trying to control the press and speech - it seems the Constitution to the Obama and his staff is null and void.
    and let's not forget the communist czar – and valerie jarrett knew he was a communist... So we should concern outselves Hillary wasn't his running mate... WE THE PEOPLE have more important things to worry about.. Now let's see if you post this or maybe you have to run it by the White House Staff

    October 29, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. Patrick

    I don't think Obama wanted Hillary on his ticket no matter what. He only would have picked her if he really felt it was the only way he could win. It's really too bad too. He could have gone down in history not only in being the first (quasi) African-American president (remember, he's as white as he is black). He could have created a truly historic ticket and opened up the office of VP to a woman for the first time in our history. I still wish he had done that, but at least Hillary has opened the door for women candidate in the future. Ironically, the biggest winner in Obama's selection is Sarah Palin. McCain never would have picked her if Obama had picked Hillary. And as soon as Palin faces the reality that she'll never be president, she'll probably make millions hosting a show on Fox. She's smarter than people give her credit for.

    October 29, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Marry

    Hillary would have been a great pick – but of cause she does very well as Secretary of State too. What this does show: President Obama always thought about what would bring the country forward and how he could find great people to support him in this difficult job.
    Not like Mc Cain who just wanted an eye catcher; never mind how badly suited for the job – as long as he felt it would be to HIS advantage. To see how he presents himself now towards the President shows how badly HE wanted the job.

    October 29, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. KevinC

    Mr. Plouffe,

    I am sure that President Obama deeply appreciates having the confidence he placed in you be so violated. It is disgusting to see
    such a blatant violation of trust when these types of conversations
    are repeated publicly and so quickly after the fact. Do not be surprised
    if you find that those around you begin to trust you a whole lot less.

    October 29, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. Frank P

    Everyone now realizes, we hope, that the ticket should have been Clinton/Obama given what we see now from this President's lack of ability to make decisions and his screwed up sense of what is and what is not of immediate importance on his agenda.

    October 29, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. ladonna

    Way to go Bill.

    October 29, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  16. Mike

    This article is a waste of space. It has no relevance to anything current or of value except promoting another tell-all book from someone from the "who cares" category.
    It shows CNN has too many staff reporters if this is what they have to drag up to justify their job.

    October 29, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. Four and The Door

    It was probably very difficult finding Hillary a job in the new administration. She can't cook and her typing is atrocious. I'm glad he found a place for her where she can't do too much harm; Chief Traveling Check Deliverer. This is one way to keep her out of Washington for 4 years.

    October 29, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Dustin

    It is unfortunate how much SOS Clinton has been hindered simply because of her relationship with her husband. He didn't even give her the benefit of the doubt that she would keep him in line, or that Bill would have the respect to mind his own responsibilities and not hinder into hers.

    I think this was a very poor reason to take her off the list, but she is doing very well at SOS – she's popular for once! :)

    October 29, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. Carole Clarke

    If this is true, then my estimation of Obama rises. This is legitimate political thinking and deserves praise. He objectively included Hilary Clinton simply because she was qualified and alot of voters liked her. That her husband's overweening presence deep-sixed her chances to be VP says more about her choices as a human being than a politician. Knowing that, it is still amazing that she was offered the Secretary of State post but it turns out to be a smart move. She has proved adept and without much meddling from her husband. Out of loyalty she would not oppose Obama in 2012 but if all goes well, why should she not be a candidate again in 2016? I don't see any other "phenoms" on the Democratic horizon to oppose her, except perhaps for Jim Webb of Virginia.

    October 29, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Mike, FL

    I don't believe what they put on book memoirs. The publishers always push for some juicy story in order to get free publicity for their book.

    October 29, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. FAYE, NV

    If that the case, Obama choice for VP is the correct choice he made in picking Biden.

    October 29, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. Jackie in Dallas

    I like Hillary, but think that she is being much more effective as Secretary of State than she would have been as Vice President. I think that Plouffe is correct in saying that there would have been too many complications - the chief of which would be Bill, not to mention her own ambition. Hillary, herself, is a polarizing political entity that would have split some moderate votes away from the ticket.

    That being said, and moral failures aside, I think Bill is doing some good work right now. As a former President, and spouse of the current Secretary of State, he is "loaning" his experience and international knowledge to the current White House to good purpose.

    October 29, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  23. Bob Davidson

    Obama can only wish he was half as sucessful as Bill
    Clinton' s presidency--Obama's people labled Bill Clinton a racist. What a joke. He has done more for African Americans than Obama will ever do. Obama was not qualified to be President. The Democrats screwed up big time selling out Hillary. They are going to pay for years to come. It is to bad CNN has sold their sole to Obama. You lost thousands of viewers based on your sucking up to Obama.

    October 29, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. That Other Jerry

    Hopefully both Obama and the Clintons realize that in the end she is much more useful as SoS than as a VP. She is a high-profile figure with name recognition in her own right, as well as the wife of a former President. Her mere presence in a country sends a message that "we're serious, and we're here to do business." On the other hand, does anybody even know what Joe Biden has been doing this week? If Obama had picked Hillary for VP, she'd be intensely frustrated right now, and probably causing Obama no end of grief. This way, she's happy, Bill's happy, and Obama's more effective as a result. The only one who's probably wishing he were somewhere else is old Joe What's-His-Name.

    October 29, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. LIP

    It's all water under the bridge now. It was a forgone conclusion at the time that Bill was uncontrollable and would have been extra baggage for Obama to carry. Except for the "Bill" factor, Hillary definitely would have been a better choice than Biden. We can only dream now and think about thow things would have been. Look at how it turned out though with Hillary as SOS and we still got Bill running around doing errands for Obama. Better to keep him busy and out of trouble.

    October 29, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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