In 2012, politics made strange foes, friends


Update: White House downplays notion that Biden was going to be jettisoned from 2012 ticket.

The rumors were true.

As the president geared up for reelection, his senior staffers wanted Hillary Clinton on the ticket and Joe Biden off, according to a new book that’s brimming with good gossip on both Dems and Republicans, including who supplied Harry Reid with info on Mitt Romney.

Reporters at the New York Times and Politico got their hands on — and have released details from — Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, which will be released Nov. 5.

When polling revealed that Hillary wouldn’t have helped the president’s chances, Joe stayed on — even though he infuriated Obama staffers by making no bones about his 2016 ambitions.

From the published excerpts, there was no shortage of enmity on the campaign trail. And Obama appears to be grumbler-in-chief:
  • In 2008, Obama griped: “How many times is Biden going to say something stupid.” After a leak, the 2012 campaign excluded Biden from strategy meetings.
  • Obama was upset that Anita Dunn, a onetime staffer, had called the White House sexist. “I just don’t understand why someone would say something like that,” Obama is quoted as saying.
  • In the run-up to his reelection bid, Obama found spending time with Bill Clinton to be trying. The president’s aides got the two together for a round of golf in September 2011, but they didn’t finish 18 holes. As Obama left the course, he “grimaced”  and said, “I like him … in doses,” according to the book. But at the toughest point in the campaign — after his lame performance in the first debate with Romney —  Obama turned to Bill.
  •  Nor is the president fond of spending time with potential donors. After meeting with billionaire George Soros, the president said that “if we don’t get anything out of him,” he would never sit with him again.

On the other side of the aisle, the book reveals some strange foes and unlikely friends:

  • Michelle Bachmann disliked the idea of being near Rick Perry so much, at one point she refused to leave her campaign bus, saying “I don’t want to be in the room with him.”  At the time, the book says, Bachmann had chronic  migraines and only medication got her through an Iowa debate.
  • Romney crossed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey off the list of potential vice-presidential candidates because “the dossier on the … governor’s background was littered with potential landmines,” such as  questions about his health, an old defamation lawsuit, and the documentation on his household help.
  • Jon Huntsman, Obama’s envoy to China before throwing his hat into the GOP presidential contest, hosted political meetings while on the government’s dime and assuring the White House that he was not considering a run. But it is the book’s revelation about Huntsman’s father that is most surprising, even though Jon Huntsman Sr. was rumored to be Harry Reid’s source for a controversial claim that the Senate majority leader refused to drop: In a July 2012 interview with The Huffington Post, Reid said a Bain Capital investor had told him Romney “didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years.” Reid repeated the claim often. Why the Huntsman-Reid alliance? Romney, Reid and the Huntsmans are all Mormans, but Huntsman and Romney are old rivals, which turned the Democratic Reid — the enemy of my enemy — into a political friend.