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After Sarah Palin VP debate, Joe Biden to step aside for Hillary Clinton?

September 30, 2008 |  3:31 am

It's been one of the most persistent rumors on the internet since John McCain smartly snuffed Barack Obama's convention afterglow by doing what the Democrat considered and rejected: naming a woman as his vice presidential partner.

Within 10 hours of Obama's Greek-columned stadium speech in Denver, McCain shocked most of the political world by naming Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as his vice presidential running matThe current 2008 Democratic ticket of Delaware Senator Joe Biden and Illinois Senator Barack Obamae.

And the 44-year-old mother of five and hockey mom with a union husband quickly became a "palinomenon."

Obama had decided against taking on any Clinton complexities and gone for the safe, predictable choice of Sen. Joe Biden as his VP.

True, Biden's 36-year Washington residency in the same Delaware Senate seat since Obama was a sixth-grader goes against Obama's agent of change argument.

But as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Pennsylvania native might bolster the foreign/national security credentials of the state senator from Springfield. And help win the crucial Keystone State.

However, there's been a persistent e-mail (see text below, along with Biden video) making the rounds of inboxes all month. It's titled "Rumor Has It?" And according to this unsigned e-mail, Biden will step aside as No. 2 on the Democratic ticket shortly after....

...Thursday night's vice presidential debate against Palin, probably around Oct. 5.

Biden will, according to the unverified e-mail, cite health concerns. He did suffer two brain aneurysms and was hospitalized about 20 years ago.

Since Biden's Delaware Senate seat is safe, he could safely return to that job, holding that seat for the party. And the last-minute VP vacancy would allow Obama to fill it with a woman to counter the GOP's pioneering gender move.

That replacement choice could be Sen. Hillary Clinton, who, true to her primary promises, has been out dutifully campaigning anyway for the man who defeated her.

A Clinton pick, once considered the "dream ticket" last spring until Obama soured on the idea of ex-president Bill Clinton hanging around an Obama White House, could swiftly bring the New York senator's 18 million disaffected backers back into the party fold for the Nov. 4 general election, virtually assuring Obama's victory.

Or perhaps Obama would choose Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, daughter of a former Democratic governor. Either one would throw off the Republican strategies and be a potential game-changer.

Switching running mates in mid-campaign may have opportunities but can also be dangerous; the last time it happened was 1972 when another Democratic senator atop the ticket, George McGovern, replaced another Democratic senator running mate, Tom Eagleton, with Sargent Shriver. The new ticket was annihilated by incumbent Republican Richard Nixon.

A spokesman for the Obama campaign dismisses the persistent e-mail message as "not true -- Internet rumor."

But Snopes.com, the website that debunks urban and internet myths, thinks enough of the rumor to add a page called "Ticket Exchange." Instead of shooting it down, the site classifies the status of the Democratic ticket change rumor as "Undetermined."

The report does seem truly far-fetched -- until you start recalling Biden's series of campaign gaffes so far, including his effusive praise of McCain and taking a position contrary to Obama's that matches the Republican's on at least one issue.

And then there was that recent plaintive video (see video below) showing a shirt-sleeved Biden restlessly pacing the campaign stage.

He was supposed to be talking about the Obama-Biden ticket and its platform. But instead Biden went on and on about what a close friend Hillary Clinton is and how well-qualified she is.

And, in fact, Biden suggested, she might have been a better vice presidential choice than he was, an unwelcome on-camera reminder of the gender imbalance on the Democratic ticket compared to the GOP's.

Another possible reason for this candidate swap: What if in Thursday night's VP debate in St. Louis, Biden, an expert debater, figuratively rolls up his sleeves, takes off the gloves and simply demolishes Palin rhetorically and policy-wise. Just destroys her.

Many if not most would find that bullying, an offense that could be rectified by Biden's departure and Obama, the would-be chief executive, stepping in to decisively make things right by naming a woman in his place. And the once-popular Palin would have been neutralized.

In any other election cycle such a scenario would be truly beyond belief. Simply couldn't happen.

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: CNN

RUMOR?

"On or about October 5th, Biden will excuse himself from the ticket, citing health problems.

"And he will be replaced by Hillary.

"This is timed to occur after the VP debate on 10/2.

"There have been talks all weekend about how to proceed with this    info. Generally, the feeling is that we should all go ahead and get it
out there to as many blog sites and personal email lists as possible.   

"I have already seen a few short blurbs about this -- the 'health problem' cited in those articles was aneurysm. Probably many of you have heard the same rumblings.

"However, at this point, with this inside info from the DNC, it looks like this Obama strategy will be a go.

"Therefore, it seems that the best strategy is to get out in front of this Obama maneuver, spell it out in detail, and thereby expose it for the grand manipulation that it is.

"So, let's start mixing this one up and cut the Obamites off at the pass. Send this info out to as many people as you can post about it on websites and blogs, etc."

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