Obama Considered Hillary Clinton for VP, But Bill Hurt Her Chances

To the surprise of even his closest aides, President Obama seriously considered choosing Hillary Clinton as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election, according to a new book from one of those aides.

"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 [top-level adviser David Axelrod] and I had realized," David Plouffe, Mr. Obama's presidential campaign manager, writes in his new book "The Audacity to Win." The book is excerpted in Time magazine today.

"[Obama] said if his central criterion measured who could be the best VP, she had to be included in that list," Plouffe wrote. "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."

Mr. Obama was still seriously considering Clinton after narrowing down his list to his top six choices, according to Plouffe, but was concerned former President Bill Clinton would complicate the picture. There was pressure to choose Clinton, Plouffe wrote, though Clinton herself abated that pressure.

By early August 2008, Mr. Obama narrowed his list down to three names: Senators Joe Biden of Delaware and Evan Bayh of Indiana, along with Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

"I gave him a lot of credit for so seriously thinking about his fierce former rival," Plouffe wrote. "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."