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Obama "never considered" 2012 Biden-Clinton swap, Carney says

8:07 PM, Nov 2, 2013   |    comments
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CBS NEWS -- White House spokesman Jay Carney brushed aside a report on Friday that President Obama's campaign seriously considered replacing Vice President Joe Biden with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the 2012 ticket, saying the president himself "never considered" swapping his running mate.

"The president never considered that and had anyone brought that idea to him he would have laughed it out of the room," Carney told reporters during his daily briefing. "Any suggestion that people periodically floated in the press that this was something under consideration was not one that [the president] took seriously, ever."

The proposed swap was reported in "Double Down," a soon-to-be-released book about the 2012 campaign from authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. In the book, the authors describe how, when the president's reelection looked precarious in late 2011, the campaign began conducting focus groups and polling to examine the benefit of exchanging Biden for Clinton.

In a phone interview with the New York Times, which obtained an advance copy of "Double Down," former White House chief of staff Bill Daley conceded that the Obama campaign considered a swap out of "due diligence."

"You have to remember, at that point the president was in awful shape, so we were like, 'Holy Christ, what do we do?" Daley said. The campaign eventually concluded that the swap would yield no material benefit.

On Friday, Carney cited Biden's important role in both the administration and the campaign to downplay the seriousness of the proposed replacement.

"It's important to know that campaigns test a lot of things," he explained, noting the "key role" Biden had played in negotiations with Congress and the pugnacious debate performance he delivered in 2012 that was widely credited with reviving the president's campaign after a meandering performance from Mr. Obama in the first debate.

Carney's nothing-to-see-here denial parroted similar lines from other officials, including Daley, who told "CBS This Morning" on Friday that the speculation about replacing Biden was overblown.

Book: Obama mulled swapping Biden with Hillary Clinton
Daley: No "serious discussion" about replacing Biden in 2012

"One of the jobs of chief of staff is to recommend lots of things outside the box and to look at things, but not for a moment was there a serious discussion or a belief that Joe Biden should be replaced, period," Daley said.

Mr. Obama's 2008 campaign manager and former senior adviser David Plouffe similarly scoffed at the rumors on Thursday night with a tweet: "Never any - any - consideration of VP/HRC switch. Not even entertained by the only person who mattered. Or most of us. Back to Halloween."

CBS NEWS

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