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Obama never considered dropping Biden as VP, White House says

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WASHINGTON --– Even if his campaign staff may have considered replacing Joe Biden with Hillary Rodham Clinton on the ticket in 2012, President Obama would have “laughed [the idea] out of the room,” a White House spokesman said Friday.

Speculation about Obama dumping his sitting vice president for his then-secretary of State was rampant during the 2012 election, and the president's reelection campaign repeatedly denied the rumors.

A new book from “Game Change” authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, however, reports that senior officials researched the possibility in the early stages of the campaign, before deciding against it.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed the report, saying that campaigns routinely test a number of possibilities in focus groups and polls, ranging from what the president's top priorities should be to what he should eat for breakfast.

“What I can tell you, without a doubt, is that the president never considered that,” Carney said, referring to the report about Biden.

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Halperin and Heilemann reported that then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley ordered aides to begin investigating the possibility of a Biden-for-Clinton swap in the fall of 2011, when Obama’s political situation was seen as precarious.

Daley, in a television interview Friday, called the reporting “an overhype.”

“I think one of the jobs of chief of staff is to recommend lots of things out of the box, but not for a moment was there a serious discussion or a belief that Joe Biden should be replaced, period,” Daley said on “CBS This Morning.” “It was looked at. But it was never seriously looked at in the sense that there was a belief that it ought to be done or needed to be done, and the truth is that any research that was done confirmed the fact that was not an issue voters cared about or thought should be done.”

Daley also echoed Carney in saying that anyone who would have presented the idea to Obama in the Oval Office “probably would have been thrown out immediately.”

Jim Messina, the manager of Obama's 2012 campaign, tweeted that the "VP-HRC switch never considered by POTUS or anyone who mattered in the campaign."

The vice president's office had no comment on the report. Carney would not say whether Biden was aware of any testing the campaign did about replacing him on the ticket.

In a 2011 Los Angeles Times interview, Biden joked about rumors he might be replaced on the ticket. “I’m unable to figure out how to get off,” he said.

Carney, who had served as Biden’s top spokesman at the start of the administration, called Biden “an enormous asset” and “an excellent partner” to Obama, both in governing and on the campaign trail. He pointed to Biden’s performance in the vice presidential debate against Rep. Paul Ryan as a “key moment,” coming as it did so soon after Obama’s own poor performance in his first debate against Mitt Romney.

“Joe Biden delivered for the ticket. And the president knew he would,” Carney said. “He believes he made the right choice in running mate. He made the right choice in secretary of State. And when it comes to 2012, I think the fact that the president became the first person to win more than 50 percent of the vote consecutively since Ronald Reagan tells you a lot about how effective that ticket was.”

michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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ElectionsPoliticsJoe BidenBarack ObamaWhite HouseReligion and Belief
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