National Journal scored an interview with the prez. Asked about the rumors that he will dump Biden from the ticket and run with Hillary Clinton for veep, Pres. Obama says “absolutely unfounded.” Then he says it three times.
“Obviously, I haven’t made any formal decision” on reelection, the president [said], “but I feel like I’ve got a lot of work left to do.”
Told that his answer sounded like he was saying “yes,” Obama nodded, then broadly smiled. “Take it as you will,” he said, laughing.
Not to be a major skeptic or anything, but neither of these statements commit Obama to anything. Saying a rumor is unfounded is different than saying it won’t come true. And, if he had any thoughts of retiring in 2012, he would be far stupider than he actually is to even hint it by the merest hesitation or facial tic in the middle of his term.
- For the record, the last president who was constitutionally eligible for another term who declined to do so was Lyndon Johnson in 1968. And LBJ gave no hint of it until after the New Hampshire primary.
- For the record, the won-loss record since LBJ of presidents seeking reelection is a mediocre, barely-above-.500 four wins, three losses.
- Before 1968, on the other hand, incumbent presidents seeking another term had a combined won-loss record of 17-7, which would definitely get you into the post-season. Something, and maybe a lot things, have changed to make it less likely that presidents get reelected. (The 17-7 mark does count FDR three times.)
- For the record, the last president to seek a new term with a different running mate from the previous round was FDR, who won four times with three different running mates, which is how we got Harry Truman as president.
Before that, there had been no cases of running-mate-dumping since the 19th century, unless you count the cases (Taft in 1908 and McKinley in 1900) when the incumbent needed a new running-mate because the old one had died (which, in the case of McKinley in 1900, turned out to be how we got Theodore Roosevelt as president).