Current and former White House officials were scrambling Friday to respond to a new report that President Barack Obama considered dropping Vice President Joe Biden from the ticket before the 2012 campaign to replace him with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Revealed in the book Double Down: Game Change 2012 and first reported by the New York Times, former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley was reportedly the biggest proponent of exploring the Biden-Clinton swap.
“When the research came back near the end of the year, it suggested that adding Clinton to the ticket wouldn’t materially improve Obama’s odds,” authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann write, according to the Times. Halperin is a TIME political editor.
In an interview with CBS’s This Morning on Friday, Daley acknowledged that he had pushed to consider dropping Biden, but discounted that it was ever very serious.
“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. “That doesn’t mean issues were not looked it.”
Daley said that the reason for the search was Obama’s uncertain political fate more than a year before the election.
“Surely it was not done with the intent that this ought to be done or needs to be done, but in 2011 as you remember Norah, it was a difficult political year,” Daley said. “My sense was we ought to look at everything here because it was a very difficult period politically but as far as I know, none of the senior people including myself thought that was a good idea or needed to be done or should be done, or whether the president would even seriously consider if he thought it was the right thing to do,” Daley said.
On Twitter, former Obama senior adviser David Plouffe responded to the book denying that there was ever any consideration of dropping Biden. That claim was retweeted by current Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer.
In an interview with CNN’s New Day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was less firm in his denial, saying only that Obama never considered the proposition.
“Campaigns test everything,” Carney said Friday morning. “They run everything through the polls and focus groups. Whatever proposition it is, they test it out. What matters here is I know for a fact that President Obama never considered this, never thought about it, never entertained it.”
Separately, in a statement to the Times, former Mitt Romney campaign manager Beth Meyers, who oversaw the Republican’s vice presidential search efforts, responded to claims in the book that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not fully comply with the campaign’s vetting efforts.
“Governor Christie complied fully with the Romney campaign’s request for documents in a timely manner, including a complete medical report from his internist and cardiologist,” she said.