Ahead of the South Carolina primary last year, a high-level aide to then-candidate John Edwards made an offer to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
He would quit the race and back whoever agreed to add him to the ticket, Obama's campaign manager writes in a new book. Talking Points Memo calls the revelation a "shocker," but is anyone really surprised? David Plouffe's book has also revealed that Plouffe was the source of the tip that led to coverage of Edwards' $400 haircuts.
But then right at the end of the conversation, the Edwards rep added a new wrinkle: "Just to be clear, we're going to talk to the Clinton people too. That's not where John's heart is, but he is at a point of maximum leverage now. We want to see what each of you is thinking."
My initial reaction was that this was a nonstarter. Of course we wanted Edwards's support and his message was certainly closer in spirit to ours than it was to Hillary's. But political deals like this rarely work: people see right through them.
Plus I couldn't imagine Obama agreeing this far out to lock in his running mate without going through any process or even being certain that we would be the ones making a selection.
Obama's answer was quick and firm: he would cut no deals. If he won, he did not want to be locked in to any personnel matters, and he had little interest in deciding on a vice presidential pick in the heat of the primary campaign.
The Edwards aide later said that Clinton's campaign seemed to want it more, an assertion Plouffe didn't believe. Edwards eventually endorsed Obama.
Hat tip: RTB