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August 1st, 2008
04:16 PM ET

Reviving the Hillary Idea?

Sen. Hillary Clinton at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees convention in San Francisco

Sen. Hillary Clinton at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees convention in San Francisco

David Gergen
CNN Sr. Political Analyst
AC360° Contributor

By all accounts, Barack Obama has written off Hillary Clinton as a running mate, but after watching the politics of the past few days, it is increasingly clear that he should reconsider.

The major tests for a vice presidential choice are (a) whether the person is qualified to be president; and (b) your running mate will give you a better chance at victory. It is relevant but should not be decisive whether you happen to like the person. History suggests strongly that in 1960, John F. Kennedy did not much like Lyndon Johnson - and Bobby despised him - but Kennedy, locked in a close race, chose Johnson anyway. It was a wise call: LBJ delivered not only Texas but enough southern votes to put JFK over the top by a whisker.

Barack Obama has just come off a couple of the best weeks we have ever seen for a campaigner. What other candidate has walked so safely through the minefields of the Middle East and drawn over 200,000 people in Europe? Given the unpopularity of President Bush and the meandering campaign of John McCain, one would ordinarily expect that Obama would have opened up a lead of 10 points or so. Yet we see just the opposite happening: whatever small bounce he may have gotten overseas is evaporating. This week started with Obama up 9 points in the Gallup tracking poll; that lead has shrunk day by day so that this morning, they are tied at 44-44.

Hillary Clinton predicted early and often that the Republican attack machine would crank up against Obama. Now it has - and it may be working. It is increasingly clear that Obama needs some reinforcements on the battle field so that he doesn't have to carry the fight all by himself. Who is any better at fighting back than Hillary and Bill Clinton? She showed in the Democratic primaries just how tough and resilient she can be - and how well she can frame an argument. If they can patch up their differences, it is hard to imagine that Obama can find anyone who would be stronger at his side during the fall.

The conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton would be divisive on the ticket, driving away many voters. No doubt, she will drive away some, but the Obama campaign has to weigh how many others she would help to bring in. Yesterday, Lanny Davis - a long-time supporter of the Clintons - wrote an important article in the Wall Street Journal laying out the case for Hillary. He pointed to a recent Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll (taken July 22-23) showing that in a head-to-head, Obama held a narrow 1-point lead over McCain, 41-40. But when voters in the same sample were asked to choose between Obama-Clinton vs. McCain-Romney, the Democrats gained a net of 8 points, leading 48-39! The big difference was that running alone, Obama got 74% of the Democratic vote, but with Clinton on the ticket, he got 86% - a significant 12% increase. Historically, one of the first rules of a candidate is to unite his party behind him before heading into the fall. Are Democrats really united at this point?

As Lanny Davis argued, there is a strong case that Obama running with virtually any Democrat can indeed win. But there are increasing reasons to believe that with Hillary Clinton at his side, he could have an even stronger prospect. Time for a rethink in Chicago?


Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
soundoff (388 Responses)
  1. seah ohio

    Hillary Should Un-suspend her Campaign

    Obama is doing badly in the past week.

    He has proven the only change he believes in is constant change. Changing his mind on all his polices and issues. He has flip-flopped so many times, I do not think he knows what he is doing.

    Anyone taking Mr Obamas running mate for VP is going to find themselves in a hot seat.

    Anything going wrong the VP running mate will be blamed, if Obama loses the VP running mate will be blamed, If anything good happens MR Obama will take full credit.

    I feel sorry for who ever accepts that position.

    August 4, 2008 at 7:00 am |
  2. Elizabeth Moore

    I was just reading how know Obama wants all of Florida and Mich. delgates to count, but he wasn't saying that 3 months ago. Its funny how he will do that, change his mind when it seems it will help him out. And the DNC I'm sure will help him out. Because if it wasn't for them giving him half of the delgates for both states we might not know who the dem canadate is right now. I know I will not be voting for him and I'm a Dem for years, what the DNC did on that sill has me bitter.

    August 4, 2008 at 4:34 am |
  3. David, Indiana

    Dear David Gergen,

    I think that Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton more than anyone or anything at this point. It seems to me that whenever they've had time together, they've been able to patch up their differences and truly build a relationship. My guess is Sen Obama would love to have her beside him and as a running mate. This might be surprising, given the primary campaign, but it always seemed to me that you could see genuine affection between these two and that those affections have guided and helped both of them. He's a little more down to earth, tougher, and focused. She's a little more open to a gentler approach to politics. It's a beautiful thing in many ways. I think their contest has been the best part of the campaign. Certainly, it's nourished my sense of hope.
    Thank you opening up this topic for discussion and giving people a chance to comment on this most important subject.

    August 4, 2008 at 3:41 am |
  4. Paul

    I hope Hillary Clinton will not accept the VP position if offered and hopefully Bill Clinton will not endorse Obama .
    Obama and his campaign treated Bill Clinton in a rather shabby way and tried to discredit him by accusing him of having used racist remarks. It was disgusting..!!!
    Since then we have seen more and more what Obama is all about ,he has giving flip flopping a new meaning .
    He has no core values but is guided by poll results , hence his ability to change his stand on issues on an almost daily basis.
    As for playing the race card once again , it won't work this time.

    August 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  5. Don, WA

    "Keep it simple stupid" – that's just a phrase, I certainly realize Mr. Obama is light years from stupid – but is he getting too big for his britches? I know 200,000 (is that right) cheering me on at one speech would inflate me a bit – but that's okay – as long as you truely realize you are running to actually make it better – you're running to fix it.
    If you over-analyze anything – you analyze your way right out of it. Obama/Clinton was good from day one and it still is. That may be too obvious and simple for politics.

    August 3, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  6. Tatjana , Germany

    So many people are badly informed .
    There were nowhere near 200 000 people at the victory column , that figure was exaggerated , nor were they all Germans.
    Your media also failed to mention that there was a free rock concert prior to Obama's speech and therefore a well staged event.
    As for the speech , one didn't really know what Obama was trying to achieve other than to advance his political campaign in the US.
    His speech was flat and he came across as arrogant and presumptuous .
    He should have waited to became President first.

    August 3, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  7. Jon in NY

    It is all too apparent that the conundrum of the primaries and now the early general has brought out the best and worse in just about everyone.
    Hillary being quiet and Obama not tipping his hand should send a message that everyone needs to hold their horses and watch the convention with a quiet and open mind. The correct choices are being considered and will be revealed at the proper time. Hillary ultimately will land exactly where she should on the issue of VP and Obama will make the correct moves to announce his choice. From the inside it is evident that she does, hands down, want the nod.
    Patience....

    August 3, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  8. Kathy, Chicago

    I enjoyed AC's special Fri wit you and Fareed. Who would want to be president with all of this turmoil? I also enjoyed your guest stint with George S on ABC this morning. I do think that you are correct in asking for Clinton on the ticket. Obama has no qualifications to be president and needs experience on the ticket, maybe if Bill promises to keep his distance it will work. You also have to wonder if Obama can handle another strong woman in his life. It seems like Michelle already wears the pants in that family. Will she accept hillary? Much to ponder while on vacation. I have to think about whether I would vote for Obama if Hillary were on the ticket. I am still undecided. Have a great week!

    August 3, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  9. Jean Harold

    Obama and McCain are neck in neck in this race. Lord only knows why. But, I believe more and more that Hillary is the right choice for VP. Every vote is going to count (and be counted we hope) and Independent women will more likely vote for a ticket with a woman who is known to be a strong woman. McCain is showing himself to be less and less the person he seemed to be in the past. He wants this too much and is selling his soul. That doesn't seem to be making a difference. Either the voters of our country are totally mindless or they need something to counteract two things, whether we like them or not...1) Experience and 2) Race. Hillary has been so thoroughly vetted through the years that there are not only no surprises, she has experience and she is a strong woman. Both of these attributes can only help the ticket.

    August 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  10. Judy - Somerville, MA

    DNC is now deleted in US History, it was replaced by OBAMA CAMP. In reading the comments, bloggers best described Obama as– A-R-O-G-A-N-T! His wife Michelle means U-N-P-A-T-R-I-O-T-I-C! I stopped counting these 2 words in your 225 bloggs but you can now add me to the running total, guesstimate should be more than 50%. With these wysiwyg data, America are you listening, awake, or just don't care?

    David, thank you for being kind again to the Clintons! VP or not, Hilary will be resurrected !!!!!!!

    August 3, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  11. Bob Butler

    Obama should pick the person he can most comfortably work with. How could anyone in clear conscience vote for a Republican, for what that party has done to this country. We have never been in a bigger mess in our lives. Why would anyone reward that party for what they have done? That would just be like giving them a blank check to continue in their own ways without regard to the middle class. Obama should be able to win, regardless of who he chooses for Vice President, but sadly, I think race has more to do with his standings in the polls than any other factor.

    August 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  12. constance

    cnn..where were u and all your political analysts for the last eight years when pres george bush was mwssin up america and the world? tired of your analysing, who obama should pick for a running mate, mccain whimpering and being negative and lying on so called polls. lets stick with the real issues. the economy, ecology, civil rights,world hunger, homelessness, etc..obama is the first sign in 8 years we, the american people and the world have seen of the people being included in govt. let it it be!

    August 3, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
  13. black cat

    Lampe, you are 100% right. The Hillary supporters were totally thrown under the bus. Let's see how well they do without us. He doesn't think he needs her as VP either. He'll pick some unknown nobody, so he doesn't get upstaged. It's his to lose if he doesn't pick her.

    August 3, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  14. Kate

    When I read the terrible things that Hillary supporters say about Obama I am reminded about what a sleeze bag Hillary and her supporters are. Forget Hillary let's do this the right way without the sleezy politics of the past.

    August 3, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  15. Michael

    Once again, it is a Clinton love affair that could give American politics a black eye.

    Where as Bill’s own actions damaged his ability to govern and his legacy, this time it is much more serious.

    The love affair that the hard-core supporters have with Hillary (or Bill or both) appears to have the potential of undermining this most important election cycle. The possibility of Hillary supporters boycotting the election, or worse, would vote for McCain is truly amazing.

    Objectively speaking the policy differences between Hillary & Barrack are barely negligible, while McCain surrounds himself with neo-cons and still promotes a pro-wealth tax policy.

    The constant tit for tat serves no purpose as all the candidates are politicians and carry the luggage that comes with the job.

    Can this country really bear four more years of the status quo?

    August 3, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  16. George A

    Great analysis David. I agree 100%

    Hillary is needed for Barack to win. This stylish, elitist attitude of Obama needs to be moderated by Hillary's appeal with blue collar voters. I am lifelong democrat and I am not voting for Barack if Hillary is not on the ticket. :). We are talking about governing our country here, not about getting along and having a good time. Pick the person who is most capable.

    David, I have always watched with admiration as to how unbiased you been through out. You critisized Hillary when it was warranted! Great job, David.

    August 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  17. Michael C

    Great IDEA! I wll not vote for OBAMA unless she IS on the ticket.

    Wise up OBAMA – don't flip flop on this ISSUE -- be SMART and ADD the women who should be the first women President!

    August 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  18. Celia

    It's strange how these Obama haters keep referring to him as the "Messiah" but have the gall to think that only Hillary can help him win in November?. Is she now the Lord and Savior? Give me a break! People need to stop harping on Hillary. Hillary, my a...! She is not, I repeat not, necessary for Obama to win. That's a damn insult. Who the hell do you think she is. Lanny Davis is such a jerk! Everyone will see that as it gets close to election day, when people are more interested in the race, the polls will reflect truer numbers, if there is such a thing when we take into consideration the fact that the people conducting these polls can slant it whichever way they want to influence voters. Everyone is not that interested in the election yet. They are too busy trying to make ends meet.

    August 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  19. alfred rosa

    To ignore 18 million Hillary voters(myself included) would be a big mistake. While I was a contributor to Hillary, I have yet to contribute to Obama because I feel Obama is disrespecting the millions of Hillary voters.

    August 3, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  20. Jonathan

    What we need is a unity ticket.
    Obama for pres. and Chuck Hagel R Neb. as the Veep.
    A unity ticket would confuse and disrupt the GOP and accomplish so much more!

    August 2, 2008 at 11:04 am |
  21. Drew from Green Bay, WI

    How about c) after elected, the vice president actually helps you so you can succeed and get reelected for another term? Where does Hillary Clinton fall under this category.

    Obama/Hagel '08!

    August 2, 2008 at 11:04 am |
  22. Brian

    without hillary he has no chance.

    PUMA

    August 2, 2008 at 11:02 am |
  23. Daniel

    I have said from day 1 if Obama was our nominee he would not win the white house. I think Americans see that now so we are saying hey lets put the one person that had the election won from day one on the ticket to help this fast sinking ship. O no we need to rethink the power of the Rep spatter.

    folks you can send a child in to a profesional boxing ring and expect a win, even if that boxer is 80 yers old

    At this point obama has fractrued the dem party and now the aftershocks are beging to show the damage.

    August 2, 2008 at 10:58 am |
  24. Jan

    I agree with Mr. Gergen’s comments. However, I hope Obama doesn't change his mind to pick Hillary as his running mate.

    Too bad that the Democratic party didn't see it then and picked to most unqualified person (Obama) for the job. TOO LATE!!

    I hope Obama loose this election, so Hillary can run in 2012.

    GO HILLARY, you are the most qulaified person for the Job.

    Jan

    August 2, 2008 at 10:46 am |
  25. MollySarah

    My perspective–I have been and still am a Senator Clinton supporter. I will not vote for Senator Obama–and please no racist garbage–he is not qualified, the flip flopping demonstrates resoundingly that he is not ready to lead; maybe someday he will be.

    I don't believe the DNC will ever backtrack to a convention that allows the floor delegates to decide who should be the nominee, so I have no hope that Sen. Clinton has a shot in 2008 to be President.

    My gut tells me Clinton will not accept the VP slot just so Senator Obama can be elected President–there has to be something more on the table for her. Senator Clinton can afford to wait until 2012, I'm not at all sure that this country can wait that long.

    The one question I don't have an answer for is–would I vote for Senator Obama if he selected Clinton as his VP? It will certainly cause me to think long and hard.

    August 2, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  26. Phil

    Dear David, Hillary does not represent change plain and simple. In addition look at all the drama and baggage both the Clintons bring. When I want drama, I turn on TNT, not the Clintons. There is no such thing as a co-presidency. Hillary dosen't strike me as a person who will accept 2nd place. If Obama chooses her, then will he need to hire a taste tester to finsh out his first term? It's not to say Clinton cannot be useful because she can. I see her more in a position of Health Care Secty or a leader in the Senate. Anything but VP. If the Clintons are team players as they claim to be, then they will both say and do everything possible to help get Obama elected. Obama represents real change. A fresh approach to age old problems. He's wise and brilliant. His proposal to create 5 Million Green Jobs and address our Infrastructure problems reflect this new approach. The focus on Wind, Solar and electric power will lessen America's dependence on foreign oil in the long run. Obama has said he will get us out of Iraq so some of that money being spent over there will help pay for these proposals. Also, Obama looked very presidential on his world tour. Speaking before 200,000 in Berlin was very impressive. McCain on the other hand has to go negative because he has no new ideas. Just 4 more years of the same failed policies of the Bush Administration. Can the so called "middle class" afford this non approach? I don't think so. Every single young eligible voter should campagin for Obama because it's their future that's at stake here. Obama has a JFK like vision for our nation with young people in mind. YES WE CAN.

    August 2, 2008 at 10:24 am |
  27. sffrank

    Dear Stewart Stevens-
    Real Leadership, Change. How do you explain holding one position to win a primary than another to win the general election...
    Iraq first now offshore drilling. It is Obama that will say anything to get elected not Clinton. Why don't you research how he was elected to the Chicago State Senate by using the system to eliminate all of his opponents. It is the Obama supporters who are angry, narrow-minded and arrogant. We want to defeat McCain and Clinton as VP gives us the best chance . The facts speak for themselves.

    August 2, 2008 at 10:20 am |
  28. dj

    Get out of here PUMA's and to those you are voting for McCain just because Hillary lost....

    GET SOME SENSE IN YOUR MINDS, PLEASE

    McCain will destroy America. It's simple. Gas will rise even higher. Our economy will be GONE. You think it's bad now? Just wait until he's in office. Stop being selfish sore losers, and think about what's best for the country, not what's best for your feelings and grudges.

    I don't want to raise a family with McCain making it harder than it should. If McCain's elected and the country starts turning worse, I'm moving to Europe when I'm out of college. I don't want to deal with the GOP's crap anymore. I want a country to be proud of, not a country where people can't even afford to drive to work.

    Get some sense. Obama '08.

    August 2, 2008 at 10:11 am |
  29. Alex in NJ

    While I do agree with you, Mr. Gergen, I still can't wrap my head around the idea of Clinton supporters turning to McCain. It's hate-filled and spiteful treason, and you call yourselves Dems?!?

    August 2, 2008 at 10:10 am |
  30. John

    It amazes me how little we know about politics in this country. For all those Hillary supporters who are turning to McCain, he stands at the opposite ends of the policies that Hillary was promoting. The majority of these people should not be allowed to vote as they clearly do not understand politics. These Hillary supporters would probably be voting for Goerge Bush if they had the chance as they are clearly not interested in what a candidate stands for.

    August 2, 2008 at 10:02 am |
  31. Deidre

    I am slightly irritated that many of you on this blog are now saying, "yeah, let Hillary do the dirty work for Barack, she's good at it." What happened to "no Billary!"

    It's as simple as this- he doesn't have what it takes. The VP shouldn't have to be there to win the presidency for the nominee. In this case it's a must. Everyone new the mud was going to be flung. Obama's numbers sluggish in the polls comes as no revelation, the Repugs are finallycoming out swinging.
    Clinton and her supporters warned of it all along. What was the candidate that painted himself into a corner of "holier than thou" going to do when the fit hit the shan? Vote against what he promised in the primary? Well of course that's what he did.

    Good luck Obama, you are going to need it. Hillary sit this one out.

    August 2, 2008 at 9:56 am |
  32. kaz

    I am a permanent contributer to Obama's champaign and never liked Hillary Clinton, but I believe that Obama needs Hillary Clinton. If he can not pick Hillary, the other person should be Chuck Hegal. Chuck Hegal will bring some republicans and independents.

    August 2, 2008 at 9:55 am |
  33. Big AL

    How dumb can this be. Now let tell the truth about this whole BS and the poll. These poll isn't telling the truth here. First of all when they call themself poling people, well think about it I seen yesterday that these poll number came out around 1:45pm eastern time. Now think about it, people!!!! Where are the people that's are really suffering at! WORK or looking for WORK... You have them stay at home moms and people that don't need to work...

    Now these polls don't show the Barr and Nader factor either. I really beleive that someone is trying to pull the wool over the America eyes.
    Daily tracking poll is the worst one of them all. They don't have a call back NUMBER and don't have others factors included. Plus they have a bias for once they are no fan of Sen.Obama.

    So America don't get it twisted these polls numbers isn't being honest.. Take notes

    August 2, 2008 at 9:52 am |
  34. gerry

    IF Hillary is on the ticket the independents and conservatives will be energized and come out in droves to vote against her which will put McCain in the Whitehouse.

    I suspect Gergen is now working for McCain.

    August 2, 2008 at 9:48 am |
  35. Anna

    Please, God, no. I would much rather see General Clark beating up on McCain. At least Clark has a leg to stand on.

    August 2, 2008 at 9:47 am |
  36. Maliq

    Tammy, this business of making it seem like Hillary was felled by gender is nonsense. She was beaten squarely by Obama because hers was one of the most poorly-run campaigns for a front-runner that there has ever been. Take your feminist anger elsewhere.

    To all of the other women out there who are talking about how they will vote for McCain over Obama because he defeated a woman, you are reinforcing the stereotypes that women decide things based on emotion rather than clear logic.

    August 2, 2008 at 9:46 am |
  37. Bricol

    If He selects Wes Clark...the issue is mute..

    August 2, 2008 at 9:40 am |
  38. gerard papazian dallas texas

    Obama cannot win without Hillary !
    do the democrats want the white house ,or just talk talk ....
    That is the reality

    August 2, 2008 at 9:37 am |
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