Bob Woodward Sheds Light on Possibility of Obama/Clinton 2012 Ticket

President Barack Obama looks on as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a reception in honor of Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna of India at the State Department on June 3, 2010 in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama works to deepen U.S. ties with the Indian government on issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to trade. Getty

Longtime Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward made waves when he said late Tuesday that it was "on the table" for Barack Obama to run with Hillary Clinton instead of Joe Biden as a vice president in 2012. The possibility was actually first written in his book "Obama's Wars."

"Some of Hillary Clinton's advisers see it as a real possibility in 2012," Woodward said on CNN yesterday.

In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer on Wednesday, Woodward said the possibility should be taken "seriously, because it's politics."

"In the book what I lay out when Hillary Clinton was under consideration for Secretary of State, Mark Penn, one of her former top advisers said 'look, it's a no-brainer, take the job.'"

"'In 2012, Obama might be in trouble. You represent voting blocks Obama did not during the primaries.' She did very well with working class, women, Latinos and with seniors," Woodward said. "Obama might need those groups if he's in political trouble."

Penn stepped down as chief strategist of Clinton's presidential campaign in April 2008, though remained involved with the campaign. Mr. Obama named Clinton as his nominee to be Secretary of State on December 1, 2008.

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"When he was considering Mrs. Clinton for the Secretary of State job, David Axelrod said, 'well how can you trust Hillary?' and Obama said, 'look, I got to know her, she's loyal. I can use her.' And that's exactly what he's done. So if he needs to use her in another way, I wouldn't eliminate it."

Woodward said people who think Mr. Obama is incapable of working with Clinton as vice president "don't understand him." "People do what they need to do in an election."

The White House was quick to try to end the discussion about the possibility of an Obama/Clinton ticket this morning. White House press secretary said the reports were "absolutely not true." Meanwhile, a source close to Clinton told CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid that the rumor is "the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

"[White House senior adviser David] Axelrod says it's not under discussion now. I never said it was under discussion now. I say it's something in the background in 2011, 2012. When Obama has to run, he may need Hillary Clinton on the ticket," Woodward said.

"Hillary Clinton is a force. Now she's also a negative," Woodward said. "It would depend on what we call the political conditions at the time."

Earlier this year, Clinton eluded that she is not interested in serving as Secretary of State more than four years should Mr. Obama win a second term. Aides to Clinton denied to Woodward that politics had anything to do with the former presidential candidate accepting the State Department position.

"They said, 'no, no, politics had nothing to do with when she decided to be Secretary of State. She has no political ambitions, never, ever,'" Woodward said.

"I said, 'wait a minute, when she goes around the world as Secretary of State, she has clout and weight, in part, because she's looked at as a possible future president of the United States.' And they went, 'oh, ok' and stopped objecting," he added.

"What I find most interesting is the 'absolutely not' declaration denial when you know that she and her aides can deny this but not too much because if she's not seen as a future president, she loses a lot of leverage abroad and lots of leverage in this country, quite frankly, and in the Obama White House," Woodward said.

Schieffer's full interview with Woodward airs on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged" Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.

White House, Clinton Dismiss VP Swap Rumors

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.


Christine Delargy is an associate producer for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. For more of Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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