Clinton nixed wife VP chances

October 29, 2009 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Oct 29 – Barack Obama seriously considered picking former foe Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate last year but rejected her because he was worried about controlling Bill Clinton, a new book revealed on Thursday.

In the book, the US president’s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe reveals the behind-the-scenes calculations as Obama searched for a vice presidential nominee and finally settled on Joe Biden.

"If his central criterion measured who could be the best VP, she had to be included in that list," Plouffe wrote in advance excerpts of the book "Audacity to Win" published in Time magazine.

"She was competent, could help in Congress, would have international bona fides and had been through this before, albeit in a different role.

"He wanted to continue discussing her as we moved forward," Plouffe wrote.

Despite still bitter feelings over the fierce Democratic primary duel, Obama continued to be intrigued by Clinton as the process progressed, saying she had "smarts, discipline, steadfastness," Plouffe wrote.

But in the end, concern over ex-president Bill Clinton’s larger-than-life presence and political maneuvering cost Clinton a chance at the job — which she had already signaled publicly she did not want.

"I think Bill may be too big a complication. If I picked her, my concern is that there would be more than two of us in the relationship," Plouffe quoted Obama as saying.

Plouffe also said that in their first meeting with Biden to discuss the vice presidential nomination, the former senator lived up to his reputation as a long-winded speaker, with a 20-minute monologue.

"It confirmed what we suspected: this dog could not be taught new tricks."

The magazine’s excerpts from the book, published next week, also reveal that Obama overruled the disquiet of his advisors in scheduling a major speech on race after film emerged of rants by his ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright.

The Time account also details the surprise felt by the campaign when Obama’s Republican rival John McCain chose then Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick.

"Given her life story, coupled with the surprise nature of her selection, her entrance to the race would be nothing short of a phenomenon," Plouffe wrote.

"But I also thought it was a downright bizarre, ill-considered and deeply puzzling choice," he added, noting that McCain had spent the campaign slating Obama as inexperienced only to pick a novice politician himself.


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