TODAY   |  November 02, 2013

New book says Obama considered swapping Biden for Clinton

A new book alleges that the Obama campaign considered switching out Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton during his presidential run, but that focus groups showed Clinton wasn’t going to make much of a difference. TODAY’s Erica Hill interviews NBC’s Chris Matthews about the allegations.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> chris matthews is the host of msnbc's "hardball." nice to have you with us this morning.

>> good morning, erica.

>> today, chris christie is out campaigning in new jersey. there is an election there on tuesday. he wants to hold on to his job as governor. with these allegations that romney reportedly passed up on him because, quote, he was littered with land mines , any sense at this point what those alleged land mines could be and how they may possibly come out?

>> you know, there's a lot of little things in there but none of them are really explosive. one is the fact when he was u.s. attorney he had a heavye$$ expense account and spending too much money spending at the four seasons. i don't know this will kill anybody but it shows that romney didn't want to pick christie for a whole lot of reasons.

>> any other reasons he should know about besides the four seasons?

>> that is big. apparently romney would make fun of the governor's girth. he doesn't like people who aren't fit and who are late for meetings. look at the two guys when you see the stylistic and lifestyle differences.

>> the obama campaign as we learned looked at possibly replacing vice president biden on the ticket. i imagine that wouldn't probably sit very well with the vice president. what are your thoughts on this and how this all may have happened?

>> well, first off, i'm not sure it was ever cleared by the campaign staff themselves. i think this was something billy -- may have been involved in lightly. you don't have to have focus groups to know that the president dumped joe biden it would have been a sign of desperation like an airplane throwing furniture out the plane to lighten its load. he would have looked selfish and desperate and cold-hearted and if he had picked hillary clinton and won he would have committed a sandwich. would he lame duck from the second he got renominated. i think it was a stupid idea if they were thinking about it and i'm not sure they were seriously thinking about it.

>> what is happening in washington with the president, the health care rollout, we are learning that six people were able to sign up on day one. yesterday, jay carney said this is a dog bite man's story as we talk about health care but yet it's a big deal and we are learning more. is it wise for the white house to downplay this as dog bite 's man?

>> i think they have to accept the fact this was a big screw up. mayor giuliani said when i make a mistake, it's a butte. this is something the president cares about more than anything in his legacy, the major contribution he has made to the safety net but it will only succeed if he keeps his credibility. i think it's important as we go through this rocky period he is seen the man you go to. bobby kennedy used to say hang a lantern on your problem and let people know what your problem is so they will begin to trust you more.

>> do you think the president needs to come out and talk more about this?

>> no. i think he needs to be candid about the fact the issue is still this one. does this country take more responsibility for the 40 million people waiting in emergency rooms or not? focus back on the central question -- one party has the health care plan. the other party does not have one. and the one that does not have a health care plan is least able to be critical. it doesn't have a dog in this race. it hasn't tried to deal with the health care problem. it doesn't have the credibility to mock the one party and the one president who has succeeded. he has to return to morality and the issue we owe our brothers and sisters health care and make sure they take responsibility for it. it is, in fact, a political question . not an efficiency question. he can't get involved in letting this be judged on whether it's successfully rolled out or not. he has to make? should we bring health care to people who don't have it or not and put his enemies on the defensive.

>> it is a discussion that will continue both here on the "today" show and, chris, on your show "hardball" week nights at 7:00 eastern on msnbc.