As President Obama’s approval ratings continue to plummet, a buzz is building throughout the Beltway that gaffe-prone Vice President Joe Biden could — and perhaps should — be replaced on the 2012 presidential ticket with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“In short,” wrote columnist and Washington insider Sally Quinn in the Washington Post earlier this summer, “the arguments against Hillary Clinton being Obama’s vice president have pretty much evaporated.”
“He [President Obama] should name Hillary Clinton as his running mate in 2012,” wrote former Democratic Virginia Governor Doug Wilder in a recent column for Politico. “That would be both needed change and audacious.”
The suggestion is appealing to many Democrats as they strategize how to keep the White House in 2012. But is the idea a plausible one?
“If the economy is still sour in 2012 and Democrats still upside down in the polls, a party in power would be foolish not to think about a new strategy –and that includes swapping Hillary Clinton with Joe Biden,” John Fund, columnist for the Wall Street Journal, told The Daily Caller.
“Hillary on the ticket could energize female voters and form a basis for the party to appeal once again to working-class voters — the people who most enthusiastically backed Hillary in the 2008 primaries and have now soured on the Obama administration,” said Fund.
While switching up the ticket would go hand-in-hand with the Obama theme of change, doing so would be fairly unprecedented, at least in recent history, according to Marc Selverstone, assistant director for Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs.
“In terms of sitting, elected presidents, then this would be the first time since WWII that one of their number had run with a vice presidential candidate other than the one they’d previously partnered with to victory,” Selverstone told TheDC.
A vice-presidential switch-up has occurred only a few times in American history. “The most recent switch I can think of is FDR’s decision to go with Henry Wallace after John Nance Garner had been with him for two terms, and then dropping Wallace for the fourth run in favor of Harry Truman,” said Selverstone.
Replacing Biden with Clinton in 2012 could mirror FDR’s 1944 decision. Some have suggested that the only way to get Biden happily away from the White House is to offer him the position of Secretary of State.
So like in 1944, the president would be picking someone with a cabinet post (Hillary) for the vice president slot, and eventually returning the former vice president (Biden) to a high-level position in the bureaucracy. (Roosevelt attempted to ease the transition by appointing Wallace as Secretary of Commerce in 1945. He was later fired by President Harry Truman in 1946.)
Selverstone also pointed out that President Gerald Ford dumped Nelson Rockefeller from the ticket in favor of Bob Dole for the 1976 race. But then Ford hadn’t been elected with Rockefeller.
“There had also been some talk within the Kennedy camp that JFK might go with someone else for 1964 – and LBJ certainly feared that – but that remains unproven and probably unlikely,” said Selverstone.
For a president who is known for unprecedented political feats, Obama deciding to replace Biden with Hillary may not be that far-fetched an idea to be imagined.