John McCain’s selection of Palin has generated so much interest in the Republican ticket that Obama needs to make a radical move to regain momentum. So in the days after the vice presidential candidates debate in Missouri, Biden will bow out, citing “health problems” (Biden underwent surgery in 1988 to repair two brain aneurysms). Enter Clinton.
Furthermore, the story goes, any damage the gaffe-prone Biden does during the debate will be erased by his abrupt exit.
It sounds like a job for Fight the Smears, the Web site the Obama campaign set up to quash damaging Internet rumors. But Fight the Smears hasn’t touched this one, perhaps out of fear that it would only further a wild rumor. The Obama campaign has not commented on it, other than to say that Biden’s medical records will be released soon.
Snopes.com, a site devoted to picking apart online rumors and urban legends, has labeled the status of the claim “undetermined.” Several online discussion boards have been loaded up with denials.
Biden has caused a few hiccups for the Obama campaign. On Monday, he had to issue a clarification after he called one of his own campaign ads “terrible” in an interview with CBS News. He also faced a rebuke from Obama after he spoke out against the government bailout of American International Group last week before Obama was ready to take a position.
On Tuesday, he said that President Franklin Roosevelt had gone on television in 1929 to discuss the Wall Street crash (Herbert Hoover was president in 1929 and the TV hadn’t been invented yet).
At one point, he even said Hillary Clinton might have been a better pick for Obama’s No. 2.
The Republican National Committee has gleefully set up a Biden “gaffe clock” to monitor his rhetorical flubs on the campaign trail.
Nonetheless, Democratic supporters dismiss outright any speculation that he might be dropped from the ticket.
“It’s crazy. … It’s just not gonna happen,” Democratic strategist Bob Beckel said.
Dropping Biden from the ticket would be a throwback to George McGovern’s shocker in 1972, when he replaced running mate Thomas Eagleton after it was learned that Eagleton had undergone electro-shock therapy for depression.
McGovern lost to President Nixon in a landslide, suggesting that seventh-inning lineup changes are not the best strategy for presidential candidates who want to shake things up.
Speaking hypothetically, Beckel said that, if it were to happen, the Democratic National Committee could feasibly call a mini-convention of sorts to confirm a new running mate. He also said “it would be so disruptive” that it would make no sense for Obama to pursue such a change.
Deadlines have passed in some states to send absentee ballots to military personnel and civilian voters overseas — meaning they would have received a ballot already with Biden (and Palin) on their parties’ tickets.
“I doubt it,” said Christopher Hull, presidential scholar and adjunct government professor at Georgetown University, when told of the Biden rumor. “Joe Biden is not that big a liability. Joe Biden was arguably the most experienced candidate in the [Democratic primary] race.”
“Joe Biden, of course, has shot off his mouth and gotten himself in trouble,” he added. “It’s Joe Biden we’re talking about.”
Though Obama lost ground in the polls after McCain tapped Palin to be his running mate, he has recently regained some of that footing. The FOX News Opinion Dynamics Poll on Wednesday gave Obama a 6-point lead, and a Washington Post-ABC News poll put his lead at 9 points. The Gallup daily tracking poll gave the Democrat a 3-point lead.
Hull said he would understand the desire to put Clinton on the ticket if Obama were persistently trailing in the polls.
A recent Associated Press-Yahoo News poll showed former Clinton backers are still reluctant to support Obama. The survey showed just 58 percent of them back him - unchanged since a similar poll in June.
But Hull said he doesn’t sense panic in the Obama ranks.
“I don’t think the Obama campaign was panicking even when the rest of the Democrats were panicking,” he said.
Obama, meanwhile, is standing by his man.
“Joe Biden is also an outstanding public servant and I am very proud of the choice that I made,” he told NBC’s “Today Show” in an interview that aired Tuesday. He said he’s a “great admirer of Senator Clinton’s” and he hopes she remains a “close adviser.”
And Biden is dutifully living up to his role as attack dog.
“Time and again, on the most critical national security issues of our time, John McCain’s judgment has simply been wrong,” the Delaware senator said Wednesday in Cincinnati.
BIden has campaigned all over the country for Obama, hitting long-shot states like Montana as well as key battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. He’s largely hitting working-class towns, especially in the Midwest.
Though Snopes.com ruled the validity of the dropout rumor was “undetermined,” the write-up did cast serious doubt on the idea that Obama would dump the Senate veteran who seemed to fill in Obama’s perceived foreign policy gap.
“It’s difficult to definitely prove a negative, but rumors of Biden’s replacement as a VP candidate seem to be nothing more than e-mail chatter at this point,” the site said. “Whatever boost Barack Obama’s campaign might conceivably gain by swapping Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton just a month before the general election might also be more than offset by criticism that such a last-minute switch demonstrated poor decision-making ability and was indicative of a weak and vacillating presidential candidate.”
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