You may have heard the rumors over the past few weeks—the suggestions that Obama might replace Biden on the ticket, perhaps with Hillary Clinton. The recent gay marriage announcement seemed to put more distance between the President and Biden. Just before, the NYT ran a lengthy piece about Sunday night strategy sessions in the Obama campaign, sans Biden. Ominous signs for Biden.
If the President were 75 years old with a heart condition, the choice of Vice President would certainly be more of a consideration. Since Obama is relatively young and apparently healthy does anyone really care who his Vice President is?
The old pols will tell you that the choice of Vice President is seldom a consideration for most voters. Voters react to the choice for President.
Yes, but what if the election is really close?
And, if Obama’s slide in the polls continues, changing VPs could be a Hail Mary pass.
What if Biden makes a really big, unforgivable gaff?
Or, another new embarrassing revelation?
Let’s face it, there have been lots of Biden gaffs. You might have trouble remembering why he was chosen in the first place.
Let me refresh your memory:
Biden was elected back in 1972. Shortly after the election, his wife and daughter were killed in a horrible automobile accident. His two sons were critically injured. Biden was devastated and considered quitting the Senate before he was sworn in. He ultimately did take the oath and perhaps as a reward was given a seat on the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committee. Both were considered plum assignments. Prior to his election, Biden had served one term as county councilman, so it wasn’t like they needed his input. One of the youngest senators ever elected, he gained seniority over time and became chairman of Foreign Relations. Ultimately, he was recognized as a kind of foreign policy expert. When Obama chose his running mate, it was crucial to find someone who could strengthen his foreign policy/commander in chief credentials. Plus, in person, Biden is a charmer. He ingratiated himself to the young Senator from Illinois and Mrs. Obama, rumor has it.
There is speculation that Biden might run for president in 2016, when he will turn 74. Is that an inducement for Obama to keep him on the ticket or does that undermine the idea that he will have singular loyalty and continue to be the hatchet man?
Biden is a complex character. He can relate to “joe sixpack” to recall another phrase that got him in trouble earlier in his career. He has people skills, but shoots from the hip. There have been plagiarism allegations and major health issues. You can read more about him in one of the best books on American politics, What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer.
Bill Kristol makes the argument that Obama is already paving the way to elevate Hillary as a way to get a lock on the women vote plus energize the base. But don’t forget that Hillary has baggage, too. Revelations from Edward Klein’s The Amateur drive a further wedge between the Clintons and the Obamas. Kristol throws out a few other names, Mark Warner, Ken Salazar. Here’s something I haven’t heard—that team Obama is vetting replacements. Could they do that and keep it quiet?
Bottom line, I think Obama will keep him unless it looks like he has no choice or needs to create some news. To dump him would be a sign of weakness. Dump Biden and bring in Hillary to save the bacon? Pretty hard to stomach unless you are really going under.