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. Puddin

    Bill Clinton was our president, and he, of all people, knows all the pitfalls caused by unflattering comments made by the opposition. Since he had his turn, I believe he has the good sense to be quiet about how a current administration runs the country, as he has shown since his wife became Secty. of State.. He has always said he will do whatever he is ASKED to do. It seems to me these were unnecessary concerns about Hillary being chosen as VP. However, she seems happy where she is, although she sure does look tired a lot. Anyway, I like Joe, too; I don't care what anyone says about him.

    October 29, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Eli

    PLEASE!!!! He didnt pick her because she would have outshined him.

    October 29, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. mjr17

    david plouffe, who cares? hillary never wanted the job. she knew it would Obama's fast track move to marginalize her. she's a hard worker. she LIKES to WORK. there is no doubt in my mind that she would have turned that job down so fast. and she all but turned down SS, too. until some of her friends encouraged her to take it because she was best person for the job.

    October 29, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. Ray SF

    Audacity to Win is the name of the book? There is a LOT more audacity by this administration than just winning. How about the audacity to shut out the American people and the Constitution and try to turn this country into a Socialist/Communist country? Now THAT is audacity!!

    October 29, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. LacrosseMom

    Anyone surprised? I think Bill Clinton also hindered her chances at the presidency, I for one, thought 'who will be president?' How can two very strong personalities survive when one has to step aside for the good of the other? Mrs. Clinton is and will be a brilliant Sec. of State. I am satisfied with this.

    America elected the right person for president. America rejected the vile politics of the Republicans and will again!

    America wont be fooled by GOP lies again!

    October 29, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. Deb fromTexas

    David Plouffe, I'm sure that is going to be a VERY GOOD BOOK! This book is going to be on the New York Times best sellers' list ON THE MERIT, unlike some of those Republicans with the GHOST WRITERS who have companies buying bulks so they can be on the best sellers' list.

    October 29, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Pol watcher

    Obama missed his best opportunity to become a "great Pres" right there. She would've been his best choice of the bunch. Picking Hillary would've been genius! Too bad his ego got in the way.

    October 29, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Bev

    I seriously do NOT think that Hillary really wanted to be VP--as she would then be too closely connected to Obama--the corruption, his policies, etc.

    Based on polls-Hillary now has higher approval/support than Obama. If she would have been Obama's VP--Hillary and Obama would have been "one"--both with sinking approval/support numbers.

    And, at that point--Hillary did not know if she wanted to run for President again. And, if she did want to run--she did not want to be connected to Obama's policies.

    October 29, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Bea

    It just shows how wrong Obama's people were. Bill has been nothing but an asset to the administration since Hillary has become SOS.

    Hillary should have been president, but if not, then she should have been his vice presidential pick. She won 18 million votes and more votes from registered Democrats than Obama, aside from winning most large states that held primaries. Obama won his pledged delegate advantage through the disenfranchising caucuses.

    Some democracy we got going over here........

    October 29, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. turdburglar

    People generally tend to like Bill and dislike Hillary. She hinders her own chances.

    October 29, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. J.Crobuzon

    . . . and then some nut would have shot Obama so we could have the first black prez AND the first female prez. No thanks pal, this is just fine. Oh listen, was that a Bush supporter's head exploding from rage? There went another one. Hmmm.

    October 29, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. Bren

    Hillary and Bill both knew that you cannot base your policy/adminstration on catering to the liberals--or you do not win a second term. Bill learned this while in office-- which is why he changed his ways and began governing from the middle--which gave him a second term. They knew that Obama would not do this.

    And, they did not know if Hillary might want to run again in the future.

    Also, I have read articles. The Democrats are thinking about running someone against Obama in 2012. And after Obama--the only one that would have a chance, is Hillary!!!

    October 29, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Tony in Maine

    Whether or not Bill was a complication – the right wing Clinton haters would have cranked up the Limbaugh/Coulter/Beck/Malkin/O'Reilly Noise Machine.

    In politics, perceptions are more important than reality.

    October 29, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    no problem as it turns out she is doing a wonderful job as secretary of state.. and Joe Biden is also doing a wonderful job . along with the most powerful man in the free world ,our president

    BARACK OBAMA :)

    October 29, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. Babs

    Oh yes, we all know who made that decision. It was in the news weeks ago from the person who made the statement.
    Also, I believe the quotes were directly from the person who formulated the notion to avoid Hillary and even Bill being in the White House. Come on now and stop trying to blame the former President for a decision that he did not make. Maybe the former President did not want his wife to be president or vice president, but as I said, the people know the one who was given the power for the direction of the current decision to pick the vice president. The people can not be fooled about the main person who is making decisions for us.

    October 29, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. SirBroiler

    I'd be curious to know if the President still has the same feelings about Bill Clinton – now that Hillary is SOS and President Obama has had several meetings with Bill on other issues. Seems like he's already part of the relationship and it's working out just fine.

    October 29, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Whatever. Secretary Clinton is doing a great job in the position she's in. This is not news. Stop trying to create division within the Administration CNN.

    October 29, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. Tony

    Don't care.

    October 29, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. John G

    How sweet just another" (insert Obama administration personality) can do no wrong and all of their short comings are the fault of someone else" piece.

    October 29, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. LacrosseMom

    PS. CNN WHY haven't you covered the 3 day old story of Matthew Hoh, the State Department employee & former Marine who resigned because of his opposition to the Afghan war?

    Please stop covering Palin, and give us the REAL news!

    October 29, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. New Era

    Smart move Obama.
    Sometimes you got to do what's right for the better of everyone else.
    Surely Bill would have asserted his authority. The ticket would have read vote for "Obama/Clinton/Clinton"

    October 29, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. j-Indiana

    No thanks President OBama we want her as our President in 4 or 8 years.!!!

    October 29, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  23. dave

    Smartest move he could have made.Can you imagine the second guessing that would be involved with every decision. Not to mention the expense of having a full time food taster for Obama which (don't kid yourself) would be critical!

    October 29, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Biased

    Sorry to say it wasn't at all Bill's fault just because they are saying they didn't like his outbursts, but the fact that Hillary either wasn't in the good old boys' club since so many sexist remarks were tossed her way by Obama supporters (Olbermann saying she should get out of the race or someone should take her into a room where only he comes out) while Obama kept quiet about the attacks, and secondly she isn't part of the crowd imported from Chicago. Even in her position now as Secretary of State, she seems to be marginalized by Obama and the actions of Biden, and now Kerry,

    October 29, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. Mike Syracuse, NY

    So Obama was afraid he couldn't handle Bill? Wow, fills me with lots of confidence regarding his ability to handle Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Russia, etc.

    October 29, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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