Conservatives Worry: Obama May Dump Biden for Hill

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Sep 14, 2008 1:23 PM


Ever since former New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg replaced scandal-ridden Senator Robert Torricelli as the Democratic candidate, Republicans have expressed a certain amount of healthy paranoia regarding the prospect that Democrats might once again switch candidates in the middle of an election -- in order to improve their own electoral prospects.

... So I probably should not have been surprised a couple of weeks ago (just after the Sarah Palin pick) to notice that commenters on this very blog were already predicting Joe Biden would find a way to bow out of the election for reasons such as his health, etc.  This, of course, would allow Barack Obama to replace Biden with Hillary Clinton (I can hear the comments, already:  "... might this have been discussed during the recent Obama/Bill Clinton confab?").

No doubt, the Sarah Palin pick has worried Democrats.  On top of Palin's enormous personal popularity, McCain's pick served to underscore the fact that Obama passed-over the more qualified Clinton, in favor of Biden.  Biden himself recently admitted that Clinton was more qualified and, "might have been a better pick..."

But while this speculation began merely as a few comments posted on blogs, the hand-wringing has now been elevated to the dinner conversations of prominent conservative leaders. 

This past weekend, at the Family Research Council's Value Voters Summit, some prominent conservative leaders were privately discussing the idea that Biden might be swapped for Hillary.  The consensus was that, while an unlikely scenario, this is worth keeping an eye on.


This entire notion, of course, sounds like a conspiracy theory -- primarily because it is a conspiracy theory.  (This, no doubt, is the reason that TV and newspapers haven't touched this idea).   But while the notion of a last-minute veep substitution sounds absurd, is it any more absurd than the last-minute replacement of Torricelli with Lautenberg?  

Barack Obama has proven to be pragmatic.  From public financing to wiretapping, he has proven that he is more interested in putting his electoral chances ahead of loyalty or philosophy.  Of course, it is also possible that, like Richard Nixon in 1952, Biden might resist the pressure to drop-off the ticket.  Having an internecine feud, such as that, leak out would doom the Obama-Biden campaign, so that alone is one reason this scenario might be unrealistic.

Still, if you firmly believe that 1). Obama will do whatever it takes to win, and that 2). Replacing Biden with Clinton would dramatically improve his chances, then this wild idea is at least worth pondering ...

In 1976, after it became clear that moderate Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker (Ronald Reagan's running mate that year) had become a liability -- Reagan turned down Schweiker's offer to remove himself from the ticket, saying:  "No, Dick.  We came to Kansas City together and we're going to leave together."  It is unlikely Barack Obama would be willing to take a political hit merely out of loyalty to Biden.  Stay tuned ...