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. Phat Elvis

    Hillary is doing pretty darn good at State; should she wish to run for pres after her term she would be invincible. Had she been VP, the GOP already had a playbook with which to attack her. Obama made a very smart decision that helps Hil in the long run.

    October 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. Jane Tierney

    There are many people out there who do not like her and this influenced the results. I think a lot of people didn't want Bill near the office again and this is how they punished him.

    October 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Keeth in California

    David Plouffe: The Audacity of a Book Published Too Soon.

    He's only shooting Obama, the Clintons, and the Democrats in the collective foot. For someone who's compared to Rove in terms of strategy and smarts, he sure did suddenly go stupid on writing and releasing this book while Obama is still in office. If I was Hillary, I'd be angry about this revelation now (not the fact of the matter, just the disclosure of it).

    October 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Brad

    Hillary Clinton is the one who blew her own chances to be VP more than anyone else. How could she credibly be on a Presidential ticket when she repeatedly suggested that the Presidential candidate couldn't be trusted to take a 3:00 a.m. telephone call? The GOP would have had a field day running Hillary's anti-Obama negative campaign ads in the general election...with her on the ticket? You must be joking! Then-Senator Obama may have appeared to seriously consider her, but that only means that she was one of the finalists. Michele Obama would have ultimately persuaded him no way, no how. The complications caused by Bill Clinton was just the final straw that eliminated her...or the pretext. Hillary had to appear to be a VP finalist for political appearance reasons to placate her supporters because the Democratic Party was divided into pro-Clinton and pro-Obama factions...with both factions being anti-each other.

    October 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Klaatu

    I think people need to separate Bill from Hillary. Like when the reporter asked her what her husband thought about something she was dealing with as the Secretary of State. what a jerk

    October 29, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Chipster

    Hillary would have made a great President but I'm quite happy with the President we have. Barack Obama is making great progress in the short period of time he's been in office. I don't expect to agree with every policy but overall he's moving the nation away from the dreadful policies of the past 8 years. Clinton is reestablishing our relationships with our allies. It's a good partnership, good for our country.

    Biden's foreign policy skills are a huge bonus. He may have a bad habit of speaking honestly but that's fine with me. We need his skills and intelligence.

    October 29, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. phoenix86

    In other words, Americans should excuse Obama's ineptitude on the grounds that he "wanted to do" this or that.

    Obama is still the most inept and incompetent president since Jimmy Carter. Sooner or later (obviously later) even the media won't be able to cover for him anymore.

    October 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. Magnanimous

    Blaming Bill for everything has become a cottage industry for some. This time the motive to blame Bill is to sell lot$ of book$. Clinton deserved to have been offered VP with Holbrook or Kerry as Secretary of State.

    October 29, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a winner and is serving our country well, so don't get it crooked.

    October 29, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. Greg, MN

    The real reason was she was too powerful to put next to him. Her ideas would have value and a constituency behind her. Biden is just a puppet...that talks for himself too much.

    October 29, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. Brando

    Barack's last year "election win" was a fluke, a glitch inside the (poltical) system. Next year is the real deal though, let's see how many Congress' seats the Dem can hold on to. It's gonna be a bloodbath...pure, pure carnage. Mark my words.

    October 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Today is not a good day to be a Republican. Tomorrow doesn't look good either.

    October 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. B

    Obama made the right choice. He did not need Bill’s mouth and ego in the background getting in the way of everything!

    October 29, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Peggy

    I believe the President made a great choice to ask Mrs. Clinton to serve as our Secretary of State. She is an awesome leader in any capacity. We should all be grateful to have her in such an important position.

    October 29, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Stefan

    Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Power-Hungry-Pit-Bull is what it would have been. Biden fits much better as Tweedle Dumb.

    October 29, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. i want my finger back

    no kidding! bill has been doing the same thing to her all their marriage and she stays married to the bum. its all about power.

    i would have more respect for her if she acted like a true feminist and left him.

    i am a republican too.

    October 29, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Cindy

    It's true even today... Bill complicates Hillary's job. Case in point, the "I'm not my husband" outburst she had at that press conference in Africa.

    Still, it's good to see, that despite the ackwardness of Bill, Obama still chose her for a high profile position, and also still choses Bill to help with high profile interaction with difficult situations (N Korea). It shows me, that he knows how to use the talent around him, despite their difficulties.

    October 29, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    The big story is that either way, the country was saved from the Republicans.

    October 29, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. Michael

    She would have been a great VP. She would have been a great President. She is doing great as secretary of state

    October 29, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  20. Joe

    Since Obama is not qualify to be President by the constitution, "read it, it self explanatory". Biden is the President, and Hillary is the Vice President, and she doing a good job at it. If Obama chose her for Vice President, she would have been the President, Obama the Vice President. That's what it should have been from the beginning anyhow.

    October 29, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. CHANGE.COM

    Sec. Clinton is serving the country quite brilliantly at the State Dept. But for those who are quick to call President Obama a one-term president, how many terms did Abe Lincoln serve? You don't need several terms to accomplish your goals. Health care will be reformed under Obama's watch, so is climate control and Energy legislation. Throw in Immigration reform and you have three of the countries persistent problems solved! Did I forget the economy? It will recover and Wall Street will become more responsible. These would be great accomplishments, folks!

    October 29, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Michelle

    That's unfortunate. Hillary would have made a tremendous VP, but then, I doubt Biden would have done half as well as she at Sec. of State.

    October 29, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    I don't disagree with the sentiment that Hillary Clinton would have been an excellent choice for vice president, and could possibly be a great switch in President Obama's re-election.

    Had candidate Obama chosen Hillary Clinton last year, it would have changed the dynamics of the race in two ways: 1) Republicans would have hated him even more when he won and 2) John McCain would not have picked Sarah Palin.

    So John McCain's run was doomed practically from the start, and Barack Obama was destined to win. And today's Republican blogger's hopes that President Obama wil lose a run for a second term is silly dribble.

    October 29, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. pg

    Crying over spilled milk? What is done is done...

    Hillary is making a great Secretary of State and would be wasting time as the VP as the VP doesn't have any real responsibilities except to break ties in the Senate...

    The Clintons are admired around the world...

    People need to stop coming up with talking points in an effort to sell their books....Sad really

    October 29, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. bob in LA

    Hillary is in a far better spot right now. I Love Biden and feel he is in his correct spot as well.
    Obama's insistance of including her on the list should have come as no surprise. He wanted to be able to say with a clear conscience that she was considered.
    The team at the top are in their proper space givne the outcome of the primaries.

    October 29, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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