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The allure of an Obama-Hillary ticket

President Barack Obampasses Secretary State Hillary Clintbefore delivering policy address events Middle East State Department WashingtThursday May 19 2011. (AP

President Barack Obama passes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before delivering a policy address on events in the Middle East at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, May 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Updated: November 16, 2011 10:59AM



Hillary to the rescue? That rumor-theory-speculation-spin-Hail Mary pass has been circulating around the political hustings for the last year.

The Washington mouths are blabbering that Vice President Joe Biden will take a political bullet for his president and step off the 2012 presidential ticket. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama’s archrival-turned-secretary of state, is tired of the international fly-arounds and serving as red meat for America’s attack dogs.

She could step off the world stage and into the vice presidential nomination. It’s a way, some political soothsayers say, to rekindle that old “black” magic.

Washington Post reporter and author Bob Woodward floated the prospect in an October 2010 interview. CNN Host John King suggested that “a lot of people think if the president’s a little weak going into 2012, he’ll have to do a switch there and run with Hillary Clinton as his running mate.”

“It’s on the table,” Woodward replied. “President Obama needs some of the women, Latinos, retirees that she did so well with during the [2008] primaries.” He added that it’s “not out of the question.”

The idea still has juice. Little wonder. Politically, Obama has been having a very bad year. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found that four in 10 Americans “strongly” disapprove of how Obama is handling his job. It’s “the highest that number has risen during his time in office and a sign of the hardening opposition to him,” the Post reported last week.

Of course, Obama’s posse has ridiculed the concept. The president is happy with Biden and Clinton in their current roles, they say. The idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket has been greeted with scorn, ridicule, incredulity or glee, depending on who’s talking.

Still, they natter on.

There are plenty of women and feminists of all genders who begrudgingly voted for Obama in 2008 but are still hankering for Hillary Clinton. Sarah Palin punted and Michele Bachmann is imploding, but Democrats have one more chance to make 2012 the Year of the Woman.

I called my go-to guy on presidential matters. Michael Mezey pooh-poohed the idea as warmed-over grist from the D.C. rumor mills. “It’s very hard for a president to do that because it seems to me that what the president [would be] doing is admitting failure,” said Mezey, a DePaul University political science professor and expert on the American presidency. “The storyline will be that the campaign is desperate,” he added. “I just don’t think they’re at a point of desperation.”

I’m not so sure. An Obama-Clinton ticket would be a potent and historic lure. It would pander to female voters, but I suspect they’ll go with it. It would open the door for a Clinton presidential bid in 2016.

And it would bring a tear to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s eye.



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