Too good to check: Hillary turned down VP slot … two weeks ago

posted at 9:21 am on August 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Did Hillary Clinton turn down the opportunity to replace Joe Biden as soon as two weeks ago in a White House lunch with Valerie Jarrett?  Ed Klein, author of “The Amateur,” says his sources in the Hillary camp say it’s true in an appearance last night on CNBC with Larry Kudlow.  Not only did she turn Obama down, but according to Klein, Obama’s “socialistic policies” are part of the reason the presumed 2016 frontrunner wants to maintain her distance from the campaign:

“Up until just a couple of weeks ago the White House was putting out feelers to see if Hillary would accept the vice-presidential nod and replace Joe Biden,” Klein said. “Bill Clinton was, I’m told, urging his wife to accept the number two slot. He saw this as a great launching pad for her for running in 2016.”

“But then Hillary had lunch in the White House a couple of weeks ago with Valerie Jarrett — Michelle [Obama]’s best friend, senior adviser to both the first lady and the president … and she told Valerie that she would not accept the vice president’s spot. The lunch was ostensibly about other matters, but it came up. … Hillary felt burned out after four years as Secretary of State. But I’m told there were more important reasons for her not accepting.”

Those reasons, Klein explained, involve the former first lady being put in positions that would make her vulnerable if she should decide to run for president four years from now.

“She felt that if she were on the ticket with Obama and he lost, she would be tarred as a loser when she tried to run in 2016,” Klein said. “On the other hand, if she was on the ticket and he won, and he continued his far left-wing socialistic policies, she’d have to defend those policies when she ran in 2016.”

Valerie Jarrett was supposedly the intermediary, because according to Klein, Obama doesn’t trust Bill Clinton.  Had Obama himself extended the offer, Klein’s sources say that Obama believes his Democratic predecessor would have leaked it to make him look desperate.  Aren’t four references to Seamus The Roof Riding Dog enough to leave that impression as it is?  Besides, someone’s leaking it if Klein’s sources are accurate.

Speaking of desperate, guess who’s getting his second vacation this month?

Vice President Joe Biden is going home to Delaware.

The updated White House calendar for Aug. 17 reports that “in the morning, the Vice President will meet with senior advisers. Later, the Vice President will be in Wilmington, Delaware.”

“There are no public events scheduled,” said the 5:36 p.m. White House announcement, titled “Daily Guidance for the Vice President.” …

A review of Biden’s schedule for the last several weeks shows that he’s been kept on a very short chain, and has spent many days in Delaware, rather than on the campaign trail or even at the Vice-President’s mansion in D.C.

On the week starting Monday Aug 6, he had no campaign events scheduled. In the prior week, he was scheduled to attend only three campaign events. In the prior week, starting Monday July 23, he attend a firefighters’ convention in Palm Beach, Fla., a police convention in Philadelphia, and an one additional “campaign event” in Washington D.C.

Kudlow asks Klein the rhetorical question that’s been on everyone’s mind since last week: Can you imagine the Ryan-Biden debate coming up?  Unfortunately for the White House, everyone can imagine what the outcome will be, at least.  Sending Sheriff Joe into the Obama hoosegow for a week won’t change that, although it will finally give the media an opportunity to start talking about Paul Ryan.  Timothy Dalrymple thinks it’s already too late to win the “heartbeat away” contest after Biden’s last week on the campaign trail:

Anyone else wondering why so many Romney surrogates and conservative pundits are jumping into the attack against Biden?  Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, all suggesting that Obama should abandon Biden.  They don’t actually want him to replace Biden with Hillary, of course; that would make for a much stronger Dem ticket.  But, knowing that Obama won’t abandon Biden, they argue that he should, in order to make the point that Biden is unfit to be Vice President. …

I’m not knocking it.  It’s all justified.  Ryan is a fantastic choice for VP, and the thought of President Biden is truly frightening.  But these criticisms of Biden seem coordinated and intended to place the emphasis on Obama’s dubious choice for Vice President, intended to make the argument that you should be much more afraid of a President Biden than a President Ryan.  The choice of the VP candidate is important in part because it speaks to the ability of the candidate for the Presidency to make sound decisions.  Before the Dems even got a chance to attack Ryan, Republicans were able to turn the current Vice President into Exhibit A in the argument against Obama’s sound judgment.

In other words, just when the Dems wanted to make the argument, “Do you really want Rep. Ryan a heartbeat away from the Presidency?” Republicans were able to make an even stronger argument, “Do you really want Joe Biden a heartbeat away from the Presidency?”  Brilliant.

Brilliant, or just incredibly fortunate? Perhaps a little of both.

Update: I’m skeptical about whether this took place, and whether Obama can even make a switch at all at this point. But I don’t think Hillary would be the best choice anyway. He’d be better off trying to convince Evan Bayh or even Michael Bloomberg to sign on. I’m not sure either man would want the job, but Bayh isn’t doing anything else at the moment. And Bayh would have been a better choice in 2008, too.

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