It sent the political world into a tizzy yesterday when Bob Woodward told CNN's John King, in his familiar robotic monotone, that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden switching places for the 2012 election was "on the table." "Some of Hillary Clinton's advisers see it as a real possibility in 2012," Woodward said. This was no mere speculation from former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card, or columnist Sally Quinn (no offense). This was Bob Woodward. The only person to whom everyone in the White House has to tell everything, for some reason. The fact that he is saying, out loud, that the The Great Switcheroo is on the table nudges the whole idea slightly toward legitimacy.
But just as everyone started to get excited, various members of the Obama administration scurried to douse the flames of political gossip in the retardant foam of reality. A nameless "White House official dismissed the speculation" to Politico's Ben Smith. On the Today show this morning, DNC chairman Tim Kaine told Matt Lauer that "other than seeing speculation about it in the press, I talk to the White House and folks there all the time and I've never hear any conversation about it." He added, "It's speculation, but I don't think there's anything to it." David Axelrod shot down the rumor to the Washington Post:
"There's absolutely nothing to it," senior adviser David Axelrod said Tuesday night. "The president is blessed to have a spectacular vice president and an outstanding secretary of state. They're both doing great work, and he wants to keep them on the job."
And Politico's Mike Allen was told by "a toppest Dem (who would know if any such idea were real)": "Absurd. ... And since when does Woodward keep big news nuggets OUT of his books?"
Well, he didn't, entirely. On page 26 of Obama Wars, Woodward writes that Mark Penn, a Hillary Clinton adviser and confidant, has always thought the Switcheroo could happen in 2012, even back before Clinton accepted Obama's Secretary of State offer:
Penn always had his eye on the prize the White House. If she did the job for four years, Obama might be in trouble and have to dump Biden and pick her to run with him as vice president. She had nearly beaten Obama and won substantial margins in the primaries among four important constituencies women, Latinos, the working class, and seniors voting blocs Obama wold need in 2012. Her addition to the ticket might be a necessity.
Was Penn one of the "Hillary Clinton advisers" that Woodward was referring to yesterday? Probably! Because Woodward basically told Larry King the same thing a week ago that he told John King yesterday, but he framed it as something that had already been revealed in his book.
So all this talk might just be based on the hopes and dreams of Mark Penn, and not much else. Glad everyone got worked up about it.