Former President Barack Obama has described his selection of Joe Biden as his running mate as “one of the best decisions I ever made,” but a new book claims he seriously considered ditching him during his second White House run.
Following a 2010 midterm election “shellacking,” Obama tasked his aides with mulling replacements, and they conducted tests about Hillary Clinton’s brand with supporters, according to the upcoming book The Long Alliance: The Imperfect Union of Joe Biden and Barack Obama, which is set for release on Sept. 13. Obama officials have previously dismissed such reports.
“I think one of the jobs of chief of staff is to recommend lots of things out of the box,” Bill Daley, former Obama White House chief of staff, previously told CBS This Morning. “But not for a moment was there a serious discussion or a belief that Joe Biden should be replaced, period. That doesn’t mean issues were not looked at.”
Obama often sighed during meetings when Biden rambled for too long and sometimes nudged him to zip it, the book, which was written by New York Magazine national correspondent Gabriel Debenedetti, claims. He was also frustrated by Biden’s propensity to makes gaffes and stir up public mockery of his administration, the book, as previewed by the Daily Mail, adds.
Throughout their professional relationship, which included collaboration on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee while both were members of the upper chamber, Obama and Biden had been leery of each other, with Biden “slightly annoyed” by the national attention Obama garnered, per the book.
Still, Obama reportedly selected him because he wanted to be “pragmatic, not emotional,” and viewed Biden’s rapport with white voters as a key political asset. Despite any apprehension he had about Biden for the second White House stint, Obama kept him on board.
In 2016, Obama hailed Clinton as his “friend” who would be an “excellent president,” analogous to an endorsement in Biden’s mind, leaving him “personally stung,” according to the book. Biden harbored a “mounting frustration” that Clinton was seemingly the favored candidate and that he was overlooked, chiding that she had “too much baggage,” per the book.
“No one trusted her. … Clinton was turning into a toxic candidate,” Biden lamented to aides, according to the report. Clinton served as the Obama administration’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
The rift between Obama and Biden over Clinton marked one of the rawest points of tension between the pair, and many former aides still prefer not to discuss it, the book says.
At the time, Obama feared that Biden would get “destroyed by Clinton” in the race and did not want to see his No. 2 close out his career in such a “devastating way,” the book continues. Biden’s decision on 2016 was effectively made for him when his son Beau died of cancer in May 2015, per the book.
Eventually, Obama reportedly came to conclude that Clinton “wasn’t a great candidate and had trouble empathizing with regular people, but she wasn’t that bad,” the book says. Clinton went on to lose the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. Biden beat Trump in the 2020 election.