President Barack Obama's reelection campaign flirted with replacing Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton, a new book says, at a time when Obama's victory appeared uncertain. According to Double Down, a book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, his reelection team extensively studied focus-groups and polling before deciding that Clinton did not offer a big enough advantage to justify the switch. According to the book, "Biden had dodged a bullet he never saw coming — and never would know anything about, if the Obamans could keep a secret." It also details Obama's complicated relationship with former president Bill Clinton.
According to the journalists, who also wrote the book Game Change about the 2008 race, former chief of staff William Daley led the push. "I was vocal about looking into a whole bunch of things, and this was one of them," he told the New York Times. "You have to remember, at that point the president was in awful shape, so we were like, 'Holy Christ, what do we do?'" Daley was reportedly personally close to Biden, with whom he shared a similar Catholic background. But Jonathan Martin, who wrote the Times story, told CNN that, "Campaigns don't spend the kind of money on polling and focus groups unless they're seriously considering something."
The book also portrays the president as detached from the day-to-day of the campaign, instead focused on the future and cementing his reputation as a liberal president, and reveals that the Obama campaign was concerned with Biden's focus on his own political future. (It's unclear how picking Hillary would have helped that — aren't they both in the running for 2016?)
It's surprising that Hillary was even considered, actually, given what the book suggests about Obama's complicated relationship with Bill. Obama evidently tried to avoid him as much as possible on the campaign trail, and couldn't finish 18 holes of golf with him in 2011. After the failed outing, the President allegedly said of his predecessor, "I like him... in doses."
The book also confirms what everyone knew: Obama supported marriage equality for years before coming out publicly, at least since 2004. Biden's early announcement of his own support reportedly pissed off the administration, which had been waiting for a politically profitable time to announce its own support. Because that's leadership, ya'll.
Double Down comes out Nov. 5.