August 1st, 2008
04:16 PM ET

Reviving the Hillary Idea?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/01/art.clintonforobama.jpg caption="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. glen

    I for one will not vote for Obama even if Hill is the VP
    Hillary or McCain.....

    August 1, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  2. Cyndi

    It's ok to think Hillary will be an asset to Senator Obama in order to win the election, but what about the next 8 years? What happens after he is elected and still has to deal with her? and Bill? I'd rather take my changes with Gov. Tim Kaine or Sen. Biden. I can still see her wagging her finger at Sen. Obama saying "shame on you Barack". Mr. Gergen, Hillary wasn't very nice to Sen. Obama when her back was against the wall. We don't forget that sort of thing. Even on the night when he reached the magic number – she still ON HIS NIGHT Hillary would not give him the respect and goodwill to congratulate him. Sour . Jealous. Bitter. Many many many of Sen. Obama's supporters will not forget how she treated him on HIS NIGHT. She insisted that it was not over. Then she made that reference about her not getting out of the race because "look at what happened to Bobby Kennedy." What does that say?

    August 1, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  3. Linda

    i was not very happy about Obama/Clinton ticket but seeing how McCain and the repups are going to play this, I think Obama needs someone that understand that kind of dirty politic. John Kerry tried the high road politic that only deals with issues and he lost. Americans are not smart enough to vote according to who will help them live a better life. We only vote for who runs the best negative ads

    August 1, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  4. Paula, CA

    Putting Hillary on the ticket would be igniting a death wish for Obama... literally!

    Obama/Biden '08

    August 1, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  5. Dave

    Here is one lifelong Democrat who will agree with you. If Hillary is on the ticket, he will get all of those voters who will otherwise not vote or vote for McCain. Here is the question, do Democrats want to win the White house or give it to McCain because they were too stubborn to choose Hillary!

    August 1, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  6. capecod

    Is there not a better answer to what is being said in this article. Why has not Hillary or Bill really come out in support of Obama? What is that all about? More power for the Clintons? Who is everyone really thinking about? It is all very disheartening.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  7. Interesting

    Well a little too late Gergen. I think you just realized what the Clintons knew all along. The fanfare is over. Republicans knew it and told everyone that Barrack Hussein Obama is the weakest candidate and his own arrogance and naivety is bringing his own downfall. They knew McCain was perfect for it. No one in their right mind is going to elect someone who can be characterized like the New Yorker cover and they knew it. The Democrats are pitiful.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  8. Jeff Jarett

    I agree 100% that Hillary should still be 2nd on the ticket for the Dems to win. I actually think the campaign is floating all these other names, Kaine, Bayh, and the "leaked" report that Clinton was offered a Tuesday speaking spot to throw off the media and the Republicans to who he will choose. Why would he not pick up the best political team in the past century at his side. She can sling the mud, he can look presidential. Its the perfect fit. Remember, after months of searching in 2000, Dick Cheney came up with himself. Why not another August surprise.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  9. raheen PA

    Obama Hillary08 rethink obama

    August 1, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  10. Vickie Lilly


    I have the utmost respect for you, Roland Martin and Ed Rollins. Althought a democrat, I also love Ed Rollins. All of you smart, realistic and have so much wisdom. I would love to see you as an adviser to Obama. But, your resurrection of Hillary is such a surprise. I think Obama will show America he can stand on his own two feet...and has shown us that on many occasions. Please do not revive that old womb, I think we (dems) would be setting ourselves up for more troubles, and more headaches. It would be like opening Pandora's Box. While Hillary is capable and qualified to be vice president, I think your suggestion of revisting her says to the dems, "lets bring in the "Clinton Machine" because Obama can't handle it." These kind of comments and suggestions only hurt Obama, and not help him.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  11. jp

    I think David Gergen is right Obama must rethink about Hillary ... Obama it is not too late !
    Jean Pierre

    August 1, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  12. Denis from Texas

    OMG - as bloggers say - He's right. I respect David Gergen quite a bit – he has been one of the few talking heads that has given objective commentary during this campaign. I didn't bother to look at Lanny Davis' article yesterday when I saw the link on Real Clear Politics (because I got SO TIRED of hearing him during Hillary's campaign) – but looking at these numbers this now seems like a no-brainer. I have been a staunch Obama supporter for quite a while, but he needs to realize his limits, get humble and get some help. Unlike the respectful comments by Mr. Davis in his article, I am not certain we can win if the race is essentially tied this far out. Time to call in reinforcements. I just have to convince my 18 year old daughter that its OK and hope she still votes for him!

    August 1, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  13. Kongtooth

    It might help... because I believe as it is he will lose the election. Everytime he speaks he says something rediculous (unless reading off the teleprompter)... and is a terrible debator which is why he won't do it.

    However if he goes with Hillary know it will be another in a long list of Flip Flops he's done... he's a weak candidate and the DNC will regret it.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  14. Eric

    Why does John McCain continue to lie to the American people all the time? I am appalled that the same person who said he would run a campaign that was positive and about the issues has apparently figured he would rather spend time smearing Barrack Obama.. He continues to tell the American people that off shore drilling will bring prices down when he knows that is not the case. He also thinks that the fact that we finally have a presidential candidate that could restore respect for America around the world is a bad thing for some reason. Hey John, why don't you stop spending so much time talking about Obama, and spend more time talking about what you plan to do to make thing better. The American people are smart enough to see that all these negative adds are designed to distract people from the important issues like the economy. P.S., before you try to label someone an elitist, or a celebrity, let's not forget that you have been the biggest celebrity in Washington for quite a few years now. You also walk around in 500 dollar shoes and rub elbows with major celebrities yourself, not to mention, you went to go see all of the same leaders Obama went to see after you locked up the republican nomination. I wonder if anyone had filed that missing person report so we can find out what happened to the old McCain. Now, he just looks old.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  15. John

    It makes a lot of sense to have Hillary as a running mate. It appears that Obama is sliding a little right now. He isn't answering the McCain ads as strongly as I would like. I think he could keep the high road that he is currently on and let Hillary get after McCain. I think they would be unbeatable. Besides everyone else that has been mentioned pales in comparison.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  16. Eileen from Portland, Maine

    I will just say that if Hillary Clinton is added to the ticket, my enthusiasm for volunteering for the Obama campaign, donating and encouraging others to donate will be squashed.
    My hopes that we can start working towards a brighter future will be smashed.
    The idea that with Obama's help our elected officials will begin to ask themselves what can we do to make this work will disappear.

    Hillary Clinton may very well be a wonderful politician in your eyes, but does anybody really believe that what this country needs is more politics?

    August 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  17. egray

    You are exactly right, but Obama is way too arrogant to admit this. With the likes of Ted and Caroline Kennedy, Moveon.org, and the "progressive" blogs, the Democratic Party is being dismantled. I for one am disgusted watching the party self destruct. President Clinton was right when he warned of polarization. It makes me sick.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  18. Julia G. Davila

    Mr. Barack Obama needs to reconsider Hillary Clinton as a VP. She is the only qualified, with the experiencie at these defficult times to resolve the deficit of this country. I believe they would make a good team!

    August 1, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  19. NIL

    Excellent, this is a great analysis. One of the best analysts of CNN.

    My personal perspectiv;:
    Obama is playing the race card since the beginning' He is the # one flip-flop presidential candidate who changes position according to the polls. He is very much arrogant, elitist, who owns a superior ego that surpasses Bush and Hitler. Obama is a black man that used his color to gain the 94% of the black voters, his gender, his rhetoric and the Media bias. On the other hand he uses 98% white people behind him as background on the rallies. .. race play
    Obama snatched the opportunity to a much more experience and capable first female candidate for President, Hillary Clinton. If Obama is elected president it would not be with my vote. Hillary is not the presidential candidate because of Obama’s manipulations with Florida and Michigan (where he signed an affidavit to remove his name from the ballet in order to declare the elections flawed and then claimed the votes as a flip flopper. Obama would not have Hillary as Vice Pres. because he is afraid that she would outshine him and that is too much for Obama’s superiority complex. Many of us will vote for the ticket.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  20. Bob Kole

    Mr. Gergen,
    While I agree that Obama would much better off in the general election with Mrs. Clinton as VP, it would be too much of a risk. If put back in the spotlite what if outshines Obama going into the Convention?
    I personally do not think that Obama has the nomination sewn up as the general perception does.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  21. Patrick King

    Adding a familiar aspect of the DEM party to Obama's ticket helps his biggest weekeness, the fact that Americans feel he could be a RISK. We know that's CRAZINESS since adding another Republican for 4 more years after the 8 of disaster, but fact is, she would help with this assumption of risk. I am a 100% Obama supporter but you have to love Hillary's quote – "What didn't you like about the 90's – the peace or the prosperity?" Older folks remember this quite well, why she did so well with them in the primary. Put your feelings aside Obama people and let's unite once and for all and end this old man's chances.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  22. Lorri S

    I strongly agree with this assessment of Hillary's strength as a running mate. I understand the desire for a ticket that is all about the new things, new people, etc. But the fact is that it doesn't get much better than Hillary. I support Obama unequivocably, but I would feel better about my choice if I knew we had Hillary too.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  23. Michael, Lorain Ohio

    These are just hypothetical polls and frankly I don't think Obama should choose Hillary because of her mass amount of negatives. We need radical change in this country and no matter who McCain chooses, he still won't be the answer to our problems.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  24. Patrick King

    Wow. Thank for this article. I am an Obama supporter all the way. I have been saying this for months. Obama will be making a DRASTIC error by not picking Clinton as his running mate. We too often listen to this ridiculous pundits talk about how devisive she is, how Bill can't be controled. Here's the facts...50% of the Democratic electorate voted her her folks. We need to put our differences aside and chooce Hillary. Again, I never voted for Hillary, but yes, she is my 2nd choice. This ticket would be amazing. Screw what you've heard about independents. It won't make much difference. What this would do is unite this party which already outnumbers Republicans by the MILLIONS. Hillary, as much as many supporters hate to admit it, would "shore" up the ticket. The Clintons are GREAT politicians and remember, the only dems to actually WIN the past, oh, 30 or so years. She brings 18 million voters with her. Romney can't say that. So he loses Colorado, and two other tiny red states in the process. The fact is folks, it would shore up PA, shore up Michigan, shore up FL, and Ohio is in the bag. Do we want to win? Or pretend that these negative attacks by McCain, although false, won't work? Hillary is a fighting dog. Bring her on and let her lose. WE HAVE TOO MUCH TO LOSE!

    August 1, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  25. Donna in ID

    First off Obama is to selfish to have Hillary. Then he isn't smart enough to have her. I would laugh if she flat out told him she did not want VP because she already had raised a child.
    I just can not imagine her running around and cleaning up his boo-boos and trying to train him and his unpatriotic wife in the protocol and ways of the Real Washington DC.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  26. Tommy Lee

    To respect women and blue collar voters–Hillary has earned her way to the ticket.

    What is the harm of adding a more experienced V.P. than yourself?

    What is the harm of adding someone that was party to the best economic years we have known since WW II?

    August 1, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  27. Ron

    With all due respect, I disagree. Everyone is talking about the poll numbers and I am under the belief that once the convention is over the real numbers will be revealed. There are alot of people still waiting to see if the other shoe drops and will not committ until after the convention because they believe that something to stop Barack Obama being the nomiee could happen.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  28. John in PA



    August 1, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  29. Jarrett

    As an early and vocal supporter for the Obama campagin it has become very clear to me that Hillary Clinton is the best choice for VP. I did not like her campaign and McCain has clearly stolen pages right out of her playbook, but to deny that she wouldnt help the ticket, the party, and the country right now would be a mistake.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  30. Christopher Creel

    At first I was against this idea. She ran such a bitter campaign against Senator Obama that I was afraid he would need a food taster if he chose her as his running mate. Now, after seeing Senator McCain's recent antics, I believe that Senator Obama needs a pit bull. Say what you will about Senator Clinton, there is no denying that she can throw a punch. I have also been impressed with the way that Senator Clinton handled defeat. So, she has changed my mind.

    Obama/Clinton '08!!!!

    August 1, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  31. PK

    I agree David! I don't think Senator Obama will the Fall election without Senator Clinton as the VP. And the sad part is that I am an Independent and I don't support Senator McCain, Obama or Clinton.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  32. Mike from Denver

    Hillary would destroy Obama's chances of becoming president. The Republicans have more than enough firepower against the Clintons and would destroy Obama's candidacy. It would look desperate, which is why Hillary was ruled out as VP to begin with. Obama is doing just fine, and his VP choice should be one that is strong in areas (or strong in states) that Obama isn't strong in. His biggest problem is the Military. Obama has zero experience with the Military and it's chain of command. He needs to find a senator with some military experience to calm the masses. Clinton is not the right choice.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  33. Franky Washington

    However hard this is for me to say but i agree that he should take hillary as his running mate thats so hard for me to say as i was one of the people who opposed to that idea when it was brought up months ago but now i think times call for us to suck it up and run with her although i dont think its good stratejy if hes looking to steal some Republican votes cause theres no way there gonna vote for a Clinton.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  34. adam

    It should be rephrased : with Hillary at his side, Obama would surely be stronger and won. Without Hillary Clinton, Obama would be lost for sure...

    August 1, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  35. Here we go!!!

    It's time Obama has had a world win last couple of weeks, looking very impressive around the world and no errors and it's just like "us" (us being the media and society) to build them up and then tear them down. NO ONE LIKES ANYONE THAT EVERYONE LIKES.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  36. Vickey Wade

    If she's smart, she would decline. Let him sink on his own and show the DNC that maybe next time they better play fair in the primary arena.

    They never seem to learn their lesson in getting behind the wrong candidate.

    If they weren't so concerned with their own agenda, they would put Hillary in nomination at the Convention and then when the delegates realized they had another chance to make things right and voted Hillary in, the DNC could save face. Oh, but what am I thinking...they would rather go down in a sinking ship then admit they were wrong.

    By the way, here's a good polling question. Should Howard Dean be removed (as well as his est. $100, 000 a year paycheck) from being Chairman of the DNC since Obama's camp is running everything now?

    August 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  37. Audrey

    Well after the lastest Ad today from the McCain campaign I think I must agree with David. Barack needs Hillary. The GOP plays too dirty and there is no avoiding it. He has to get down with them and that means bringing in Hillary and Bill. My grandmonther always said keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer. Not that I am saying Barack and Hillary are enemies, but these attacks need to be dealt with by Hillary – keep Barack sweet. I don't care about these polls, I am constantly confused by them. I agree completely with David's opinion.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  38. robert deveau

    how about reviving the hillary for president idea with obam as the vp

    August 1, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  39. Brian in Los Angeles

    YES!!! There is no way I will vote for Obama without Hillary. I am a Democrat, but as it stands now I am voting for McCain. Obama has done little to unite the party. As a matter of fact, he has written off all of us Hillary supporters. Not once has he spoken directly to us and asked us to give him a chance. He has not once asked us for our vote. I feel as if we have been ignored, and if he chooses to put any Democrat on his ticket other than Hillary I will vote for McCain to show my disdain for this arrogant candidate and the Democratic Party.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  40. Kyle

    Hillary's great and all, but with or without her Barack will win.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  41. Lorraine Moser

    Why not just dump him and nominate her? The DNC has made a huge mis-calculation but they can still fix it..and they should!!

    August 1, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  42. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    I agree totally! I was a Hillary supporter but now I am a Obama supporter. Not so for many in Texas. A LOT of the Hillary supporters I have talked to are voting for McCain if Hillary is not the VP.
    So sad that people believe the lies about Obama.
    I hope Obama makes the right choice for the sake of our nation.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  43. Tammy

    Had Democrats chosen her as the nominee to begin with, I don't think McCain would be close to equal in the polls. She's always been the strongest candidate for winning the general election. Everyone knew it (which is why I don't get the ignorance in putting Obama where he is right now). I am a Republican, but as a woman I would have voted for her because I think of the three she could have done the best job of all running this nation. Like I've always said, she wasn't the right demographic for the PC happy DNC. Oh well. They reap what they sow. Look at the polls. Had they chosen a more qualified African American male, I think voters would think differently. Obama is arrogant, wet behind the ears, has ties with people who make me question his judgement in general, has a wife who's a time bomb to eventually destroy his political career at best, and has no business sitting in the Oval Office with the limited experience he brings. I sure as all hell don't want that dealing with some of the nations we work with on a regular basis (and his PR trip was no proof of anything but the smoke and mirrors they wanted us to see). It would be pretty hypocritical to offer Hillary the nomination at this point after the disrespect she received in the primary season from the Democrats. It's a slap in the face to women everyone that she gets the leftovers (which we've always gotten from men). Like I said, you reap what you sow. And if Hillary took the leftovers, she's far less of a self-respecting woman than I think she is. I wouldn't vote for her because of her running mate and because she's giving into what we as woman have fought for so long to overcome.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  44. John

    Hillary should have neer dropped out. She should hang tight since Obama still needs to get the nomination

    August 1, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  45. Sharon from Indy

    I agree with the idea of a Obama-Clinton ticket to provide a slam dunk for the Democratic ticket this November.

    But to be honest, I think Hillary Clinton has never been taken away from the "short list". I think it was necessary for Obama to shine without her on his coat tales for a while. I believe she will become his running mate.

    August 1, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  46. Kim in NY

    I don't think she wants second place. Sen. Clinton is already preparing, at least mentally, for 2012.

    August 1, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  47. Lilibeth

    David, you raise very good points. You should talk to Sen. Obama about this.

    Edmonds, Washington

    August 1, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  48. Larry

    Well, we all know what that Victory Column represents in Berlin and what phrase it gave life to; guess it was 200,000 Germans longing for the old days and listening to another slick talker in a suit.

    There is no way Hillary would even accept the job. Obama's legions have way too much resentment, and cnn has had too many guests on the show that have done nothing but insult the clintons.

    Hey Chicago! The World doesn't revolve around you.

    August 1, 2008 at 4:51 pm |
  49. Linda, Boulder

    Although Obama does come across as elitist to me, it's because of his lack of experience, and failure to identify the issues and his solutions, that will keep me from voting for him. Tha tis, unless he adds Hillary Clinton to his ticket.

    Eight years of Bush, and Obama isn't polling better than he is? Something's wrong with this picture. And what's wrong is he is not the man for the job. He is not ready to lead; he needs help. And not just the folks surrounding him now. He needs a campaigner, and a fighter working with him. This election is so important.

    I don't know Obama very well, even though I've read his speeches, visited his website, watched his photo ops on t.v., listed to his surrogates, etc., etc. He just doesn't have the experience I want leading the country. He needs someone with experience, someone who can help him. I hope his ego isn't so strong, or the advice he is receiving so bad, that he can't select her to be his running mate.

    Obama and Clinton would ensure a fired up campaign, and a win. And we need to win this one.

    August 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  50. lampe

    hope he doesn't pick her. The reason being him and his supporters, are the most hateful but of winners I have ever seen. They think they can do this without her, or us. Well let them try. And when he loses they will have no one but their hateful selfs to blame. The DNC and Obama and his Supporters, are not deserve her help, afteer how they treated her. McCain\ Clinton THE PARTY OF UNITY..

    August 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
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