By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden's place as President Barack Obama's running mate is secure, the White House said on Thursday.

"That was settled a long, long time ago," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, trying to put to rest a question that comes up whenever the loquacious leader makes a verbal misstep.

This week, Biden drew the ire of Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney for suggesting, when talking about the Republican policies to "unshackle" Wall Street, that he would put people back "in chains" if he won the White House. Biden's audience was partially African-American, and the comment was seen as a witting or unwitting reference to slavery.

Biden's gaffe renewed speculation that Obama would dump his vice president before the November 6 election. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin suggested on Fox that he should ditch the former senator for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

In a separate interview on Fox, Republican Senator John McCain, whom Obama defeated in the 2008 general election, concurred that "it might be wise" to make the switch, but he said it was unlikely to happen.

Carney agreed.

"I have great admiration for and respect for, and a long relationship with, Senator John McCain, but one place I would not go for advice on vice presidential running mates is to Senator McCain," he said.

McCain was criticized for choosing Palin, a former governor of Alaska, who was seen by many as unprepared for the nation's No. 2 job.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Stacey Joyce)