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Hillary Clinton for vice president: The rumor that just won’t die

at 06:30 AM ET, 04/19/2012

On Wednesday night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to talk about the various threats that face the United States across the globe .. and whether she is going to replace Vice President Joe Biden on the national ticket in 2012.

Here’s the exchange:

BLITZER: “If the president of the United States says, ‘Madame Secretary I need you on the ticket this year in order to beat Romney,’ are you ready to run as his vice presidential running mate?”
CLINTON: “That is not going to happen. That’s like saying if the Olympic Committee called you up and said, ‘Are you ready to run the marathon would you accept.’ Well, it is not going to happen.”

So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?!

There is no rumor more impossible to knock down than the idea that President Obama might swap Clinton in for Biden at the last moment. Clinton has denied it in every way possible. Everyone around her insists it won’t happen. And yet, still the idea lives on.

Hoping to find out why the Clinton-as-vice-president rumor is so persistent as to be immune from facts, we sought a number of loyalists of the former New York senator seeking guidance.

“Clinton is catnip for cable,” said Phil Singer, who served as a senior aide on the former senator’s 2008 presidential campaign. “She’s a political icon with a job that keeps her above the fray and has numbers that most pols would kill for, so it’s not a surprise that people are talking.”

All true. Clinton does have stratospherically high poll numbers; a September 2011 CNN survey pegged her favorable rating at an eye-popping 69 percent. Just 26 percent viewed the formerly polarizing ex-first lady unfavorably. (Biden’s favorable/unfavorable score in that same poll was far less healthy: 42 percent saw him favorably, 41 percent unfavorably.)

Another Clinton ally was also quick to lay the blame for the ongoing Clinton-Biden swap at the feet of the media. “The press has got to stop writing about their favorite imaginary campaign and just cover the real one, which is plenty interesting,” said the source.

And yet the “blame the media” sentiment, while common, doesn’t get at the full picture of why Hillary on the national ticket still captivates. (Anecdote worth noting: At every talk the Fix gives — and we give them from time to time — one of the first questions is about the idea of a Clinton-Biden swap. We never bring it up.)

One Clinton supporter provided three reasons — none on which included the media — for why the idea of a veep swap remains alive and well.

“A) Her 2008 supporters remain fervent,” wrote the source in an email to the Fix. “B) Some 2008 Obama supporters have buyer’s remorse/guilt. C) Her numbers are off the charts because she has been out of politics and done a good job as Secretary of State”.

That seems to strike at the heart of the never-say-die-ness of the rumors about Clinton for vice president (or for president in 2016). She retains a loyal base within the party — these people are also loyal to Obama but hold Hillary more dear — and has, if anything, strengthened her image as a major political figure in the years since she took on the Secretary of State job.

Figuring out the gen­esis of the rumor — or at least the perpetual motion machine that keeps it circulating — doesn’t change the fundamental reality of why Clinton won’t be on the ticket.

To swap Biden, who has done nothing major wrong since coming onto the ticket back in 2008, for Clinton would reek of panic within the White House. It would be cast, almost certainly, as Obama throwing a hail mary pass — not exactly the message an incumbent president wants to be sending.

But remember, just because it won’t happen doesn’t mean people will stop talking about it. These are the Clintons after all. And this is politics.

Kissell joins Blue Dogs: The shrinking Blue Dog caucus is increasing its ranks — for the moment, at least — thanks to Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), who just joined the group of conservative-leaning Democrats. There are now 25 Blue Dogs, but five are retiring or running for higher office.

“I’ve always said I’m not much of a joiner, but I believe that a strong moderate presence is needed, and that’s why I have joined the Blue Dog Coalition,” Kissell said in a statement.

Redistricting has made Kissell’s reelection prospects much dicier, and belonging to a group that has often clashed with Democratic leadership can probably only help him in a new district that went 57 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential race. (Kissell’s old district was about 10 points more Democratic.)

New Hispanic data from GOP group: Resurgent Republic, a Republican polling organization, is out with a nifty new infographic designed to help conservatives reach out to Hispanic voters.

The GOP faces a significant deficit with a rapidly growing demographic that risks its future political prospects. Along with some interesting data, the Resurgent Republic site makes the case that Republicans can connect to Latinos on a number of issues.

Mourdock faces party investigation: Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who is challenging Sen. Dick Lugar (R), is being probed by the state GOP after after allegations that the candidate improperly accessed the party’s voter files.

In an email obtained by the AP, Mourdock’s campaign manager asked staffers to “start pillaging email addresses” from Salesforce, a database used by Indiana Republicans.

It’s been a great couple weeks for Mourdock — an an internal poll Wednesday showed Mourdo­ck at 42 percent and Lugar at 41 — this investigation could do some damage to the tea party-backed candidate and bolster Lugar a bit.

Fixbits:

Congress asks for a quick resolution to the Secret Service scandal.

Rick Perry says he wants to run for president again in 2016.

A poll shows a tight race in New Hampshire between Mitt Romney and Obama.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) launches an ad in Rhode Island.

Must Reads:

The Romneys’ Dancing Horse Competes Without Them” — Matthew Mosk, ABC News

Newt Gingrich’s Georgia backers in Congress say they’ll stick with him” — Daniel Malloy, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The year of the ‘surrogate’” — Maggie Haberman and Emily Schultheis, Politico

 
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