The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008



Inside the Obama campaign: Former campaign manager Plouffe's book revisits 2008

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe's book about the 2008 contest, The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory, is scheduled for release Nov. 3.

On Thursday, Time magazine published a lengthy excerpt of the book, to be published by Viking, a member of the Penguin Group Inc, that adds some fine-grained details to contemporaneous reports about where Hillary and Bill Clinton figured in Obama's vice presidential selection process -- and what Obama staffers first thought about Joe Biden. Plouffe writes:

What surprised me at [our first meeting to discuss the vice presidency] was that Obama was clearly thinking more seriously about picking Hillary Clinton than Ax and I had realized. He said if his central criterion measured who could be the best VP, she had to be included in that list. She was competent, could help in Congress, would have international bona fides and had been through this before, albeit in a different role. He wanted to continue discussing her as we moved forward.

We met again a couple of weeks later in mid-June and winnowed the list down to about 10 names.

At our next meeting, we narrowed the list down to six. Barack continued to be intrigued by Hillary. "I still think Hillary has a lot of what I am looking for in a VP," he said to us. "Smarts, discipline, steadfastness. I think Bill may be too big a complication. If I picked her, my concern is that there would be more than two of us in the relationship."

Neither Ax nor I were fans of the Hillary option. We saw her obvious strengths, but we thought there were too many complications, both pre-election and postelection, should we be so fortunate as to win. Still, we were very careful not to object too forcefully. This needed to be his call.

We had initially received a lot of advice from many of her supporters to pick her, though this "advice" was perhaps more accurately described as subtle pressure. Their fervor was abating a bit every day, though, helped by Hillary's comments that this was Obama's decision and that he should be left to make it.

In early August, he narrowed his list down to three names: Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana and Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia. Hillary did not make the last cut. At the end of the day, Obama decided that there were just too many complications outweighing the potential strengths. But I gave him a lot of credit for so seriously thinking about his fierce former rival. Some in the Clinton orbit thought we gave Hillary short shrift. My view is that any serious consideration was somewhat surprising given all the complications and the toxicity during the primary campaign.

Shortly before he took off for Hawaii and his much needed vacation, Obama asked Axelrod and me to meet with the three finalists. [We] pieced together a schedule that had us departing Chicago at 5:30 a.m. for Wilmington, Del., to meet with Biden; then on to West Virginia, where Bayh was vacationing with his family; and then to Virginia to meet with Kaine.

The [first] meeting started with Biden launching into a nearly 20-minute monologue that ranged from the strength of our campaign in Iowa ("I literally wouldn't have run if I knew the steamroller you guys would put together"); to his evolving views of Obama ("I wasn't sure about him in the beginning of the campaign, but I am now"); why he didn't want to be VP ("The last thing I should do is VP; after 36 years of being the top dog, it will be hard to be No. 2"); why he was a good choice ("But I would be a good soldier and could provide real value, domestically and internationally"); and everything else under the sun. Ax and I couldn't get a word in edgewise.

It confirmed what we suspected: this dog could not be taught new tricks. But the conversation also confirmed our positive assumptions: his firm grasp of issues, his blue collar sensibilities and the fact that while he would readily accept the VP slot if offered, he was not pining for it....

Later that night, we held a conference call with Obama to brief him on our day. "Well, it sounds like you both are for Biden, but barely," he said. "I really haven't settled this yet in my own mind. It's a coin toss now between Bayh and Biden, but Kaine is still a distinct possibility. I know the experience attack people will make if we pick him. But if that really concerned me, I wouldn't have run in the first place. My sense is -- and you tell me if the research backs this up -- that Barack Hussein Obama is change enough for people. I don't have to convince people with my VP selection that I am serious about change."

The selection of his vice-presidential nominee was his first presidential decision. On the evening of Aug. 17, he called Ax and me with the news. "I've decided," he said. "It's Biden."

Time magazine has more.

Posted at 3:02 PM ET on Oct 29, 2009  | Category:  Noted
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Hillary did not commit any kind of fraud, with or without GOP buddies (tho she is bipartisan unlike the Chicago ward heelers we have in WH now.)
Hillary bravely fought for some attention from the media and voters and her victory in Fla. was by millions of votes.
Imagine our shock to see our VOTES discounted by half as Howard Dean kept his finger on the scales, using trumped up excuses about a week's scheduling difference.
Obama won dirty and you can Google the Michigan and Florida primaries to see this. I am proud of Hillary and venerate her courage, her patriotism and grit, all honest and forthright.
Thanks Hillary. Sorry we have senator windbag instead of you, so that when The One folds and steps aside you would be president.

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | October 30, 2009 9:08 PM

Obama is getting it all in a very short time. First the Nobel prize and now a tell-all book not even a year into the presidency.

But he's intelligent and conscientious. He will overcome.

Posted by: FedUp1 | October 30, 2009 5:41 PM

To nancyjeanmail

Hillary did not win anything. She committed fraud with her racist sexist GOP Buddies, Bush, Cheney and Rush and the others in that crew. Take that.

Posted by: fatflush3 | October 30, 2009 12:16 PM

It's hard to charge sexism when it clearly would have been Hillary had Bill not been in the picture.

All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't Bayh.

Posted by: Pupster | October 30, 2009 10:07 AM

The dismissive 'tude toward Hillary, and labeling the primary campaign as "toxic" is fodder for laughter. After using BFF Howard Dean to kneecap her Michigan and Florida wins by reducing the vote tally by 50%, this team shows its affinity for cheating and for sexism.
The comical mess Biden has made of the VP slot was predictable and his blowhard 'interview' is funny in retrospect.
Heaven forbid we should have had the first viable female candidate for the executive branch, when this monolog-happy windbag who horrified his vetters was available.
Also amusing to see Obama thought his own candidacy was "enough change" for the public. It's the 'got mine' attitude writ large.
Proud that I voted for Hillary, as millions did, over The One in the Florida primary. And delighted to see Howard Dean, the capo who butchered our votes selecting her by a wide margin, now marginalized and reduced to peddling a poorly-selling book.
The campaign was a dirty, embarrassing mess and I hope those reading this story will opt not to buy it and enrich one of the criminals who 'managed' it. Atrocious....

Posted by: nancyjeanmail | October 30, 2009 5:31 AM

ATTENTION MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, TEAM OBAMA: Promise of Obama Presidency Turned into a Cruel Joke by Ongoing Bush Era Crimes Against Humanity


Thousands of unjustly targeted Americans are being damaged by the devastating physiological effects of being silently irradiated by microwave and laser radiation directed energy weapons by a secret executive branch multi-agency coordinated action program...

the weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum, a silent "final solution" that may have the nation's political leadership in its ideological cross-hairs.

This technology is capable of altering moods, emotions, inducing fatigue, weakness, exhaustion, confusion, life-altering injury, disease and a slow-kill death.

And key elements of the federal bureaucracy -- chief among them the defense/security/intel establishment -- are proliferating these technologies by various modalities, reported to include terrestrial and satellite electromagnetic microwave/laser emissions -- in one iteration, disguised as cell towers.

American citizens and families targeted by this covert torture matrix also are subject to financial sabotage that decimates their livelihoods and financial resources...

and relentless "community stalking" -- harassment, surreptitious home entries and vandalism by government-enabled vigilantes affiliated with federally-funded community policing and anti-terrorism organizations.

Warrantless, covert placement of GPS tracking devices and misuse of cell phone technology to hunt down the unjustly targeted enables this grassroots terrorism.

But the Obama administration continues to allow these warrantless intrusions into the lives of unjustly targeted American families.

By its naivete -- its unquestioning rubber-stamp approval of the deployment of these destructive technologies and programs -- the Obama administration risks presiding over the destruction of democracy, the rule of law, and personal liberty.


BAN the use of microwave/laser directed energy weapons on U.S. citizens or any human being (including experimentation) as cruel and unusual punishment and a crime against humanity.

BAN the warrantless tracking of individuals with GPS devices, or via cell phones -- the electronic backbone of an American Gestapo now operating on YOUR watch. OR (if link is corrupted/disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 29, 2009 3:17 PM

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