2008 Democratic Party vice presidential candidate selection

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2008 Democratic vice presidential nomination
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Nominee Joe Biden
Home state Delaware

Previous Vice Presidential nominee

John Edwards

Vice Presidential nominee

Joe Biden

This article lists potential candidates for the Democratic nomination for Vice President of the United States in the 2008 presidential election. After Illinois Senator Barack Obama became the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee on June 3, 2008,[1] Obama formed a small committee, made up of James A. Johnson (who stepped down after one week),[2] Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy, to help him select a running mate.[3][4][5] Veteran Democratic lawyer and advisor James "Jim" Hamilton, of the firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, later replaced Johnson in vetting candidates.[6]

Obama strongly considered Senator Evan Bayh and governors Tim Kaine and Kathleen Sebelius, but Obama ultimately decided to select Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. Obama would later name Sebelius as his Secretary of Health and Human Services, while Kaine would ultimately become Hillary Clinton's running mate in 2016. The Obama–Biden ticket would go on to defeat the Republican tickets of McCain–Palin in 2008 and Romney–Ryan in 2012. Coincidental to the presidential election, Biden was re-elected to a seventh term as senator from Delaware.

In 2020, Biden would later be elected president in his own right, defeating incumbent president Donald Trump.


Media near where Joe Biden was residing during speculation that he may be the Democratic nominee for Vice President.

According to contemporaneous news sources, the following people were thought to be on Senator Obama's short list for Vice President:[7][8][9]

Final days and announcement[edit]

In the final days leading up to the Democratic National Convention, four individuals were left on Obama's final list for Vice President: Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine, and Kathleen Sebelius.[9]

On August 22, the eve of Obama's scheduled unveiling of his running mate, NBC News reported that Bayh and Kaine had been informed that they were not chosen.[10] Last minute controversy emerged as it was learned that Senator Hillary Clinton was never vetted for the position, when it was earlier thought that Sen. Barack Obama would consider her as he previously stated in various private and public reports.[11] This led to several questions as to whether Clinton supporters would feel betrayed and would defuse the intensity in "dream ticket" scenarios.

That night, ABC News reported that the U.S. Secret Service had assumed protection of Biden, which was seen as a sign that he had been chosen as Obama's running mate.[12] Just hours later, the Associated Press broke the news that Democratic Party officials had confided that Obama had in fact selected Biden as the vice-presidential nominee.[13]

Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe later wrote in his book The Audacity to Win, which was published in November 2009, that Bayh had been a "coin toss" away from becoming Obama's running mate. Plouffe and David Axelrod had interviewed the finalists and Plouffe said that Bayh's answers were "substantively close to perfect, if cautiously so." He recalled that at the time of the interview he thought to himself, "there's no way this guy will color outside the lines... Bayh's up side and down side are probably the closest spread of the three", compared to Biden, who could "reach higher heights but could cause us real pain." As Obama approached a decision, he told Plouffe "it's a coin toss now between Bayh and Biden, but Kaine is still a distinct possibility." On August 17, Obama told Axelrod simply, "I've decided. It's Biden."[14][15] It was later reported that Obama told Kaine, in breaking the news to him, "You are the pick of my heart, but Joe [Biden] is the pick of my head".[16]

In 2020 Obama wrote in his memoir A Promised Land a slightly different account of the selection, not mentioning Bayh and stating that he had ultimately narrowed down the choice for his running mate to two individuals – Kaine and Biden. He stated "At the time, I was much closer to Tim".[17] However Obama recalled that he and his advisers Axelrod and Plouffe wondered if voters would accept a ticket of "two relatively young, inexperienced, and liberal civil rights attorneys" and ultimately Obama felt the contrast between him and Biden was a strength, and that Biden being older than Obama would reassure those voters who were concerned that Obama was too young to be President.[18] Kaine would later be selected by Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign, losing to businessman Donald Trump and Indiana governor Mike Pence.

On August 23, 2008, via text message, the Obama campaign announced that the then-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee chose Senator Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate.[19]

Media speculation on possible candidates[edit]

Contenders for 2008 presidential nomination[edit]



Other political figures[edit]

Denied interest[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "RealClearPolitics – 2008 Elections – Democratic Delegate Count". Realclearpolitics.com. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  2. ^ John Broder (June 12, 2008). "Obama Aide Quits Under Fire for His Business Ties". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  3. ^ "vice president - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com". Thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  4. ^ "Obama Picks Caroline Kennedy, 2 Others for VP Search (Update2)". Bloomberg. June 4, 2008.
  5. ^ "Obama VP Vetter Tied to Controversial Mortgage Crisis". USA Today. June 9, 2008. Archived from the original on June 14, 2008.
  6. ^ Freed, Benjamin (June 20, 2016). "Meet the DC Lawyer Helping Hillary Clinton Pick a Running Mate". Washingtonian. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Barrett, Ted (June 10, 2008). "Obama VP team discusses 20 possible picks". CNN. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d e Kane, Murray, Paul, Shailagh (June 10, 2008). "The '08 Veep Tour Begins". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 11, 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b Zeleny, Jeff; Rutenberg, Jim (August 23, 2008). "In Obama's Choice, a 'Very Personal Decision'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  10. ^ "Sources: Bayh, Kaine out of Obama VP race – Barack Obama News – NBC News". NBC News. August 22, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  11. ^ Mike Allen. "Hillary gets stiffed – Politico.com Print View". Dyn.politico.com. Archived from the original on September 4, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  12. ^ Jake Tapper; Ann Compton; Matt Jaffe; Jay Shaylor (August 22, 2008). "U.S. Secret Service on Way to Biden's House; Kaine and Bayh Told Nope on Veep". Political Punch. Blogs.abcnews.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  13. ^ "McCain taps Alaska governor for VP – Yahoo! News". News.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on September 11, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  14. ^ "Bayh was about a 'coin toss' away from being veep, book says". IndyStar.com. November 1, 2009. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  15. ^ "Sen. Bayh lost 'coin toss' for VP slot – Legislative notebook". Evansville Courier & Press. November 1, 2009. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  16. ^ Thrush, Glenn (August 16, 2019). "Obama and Biden's Relationship Looks Rosy. It Wasn't Always That Simple". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Obama, Barack (2020). A Promised Land. Great Britain: Viking. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-241-49151-5.
  18. ^ Obama, Barack (2020). A Promised Land. Great Britain: Viking. pp. 164–165. ISBN 978-0-241-49151-5.
  19. ^ "Barack Obama – Change We Can Believe In – Share your personal welcome note". My.barackobama.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  20. ^ "Obama's VP Short List". Zimbio. July 25, 2008. Retrieved August 12, 2008.
  21. ^ McCaffrey, Shannon (June 3, 2008). "Sam Nunn: If asked, I'd consider being vice president". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  22. ^ Smith, Ben (June 24, 2008). "Pelosi floats Edwards". Politico. Retrieved August 20, 2008.
  23. ^ Hemmer, Bill (March 28, 2008). "Is Gore-Obama Ticket a Possibility?". Fox News. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2008.
  24. ^ Wright, David (February 26, 2008). "Dodd Endorses Obama, Rules Out Veepstakes". ABC News. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  25. ^ Rhee, Foon (May 17, 2008). "Edwards rules out possibility of vice-presidential run with Obama". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  26. ^ Montanaro, Domenico (June 11, 2008). "Veepstakes: Strick says no thanks". MSNBC. Archived from the original on June 14, 2008. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  27. ^ Kumar, Anita, Craig, Tim (June 15, 2008). "Mark Warner Rejects VP Talk, Wants Senate Seat". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 26, 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ "The Page - by Mark Halperin - TIME". Thepage.time.com. July 7, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008.
  29. ^ Broder, John M. (July 7, 2008). "In Case You Ask: Webb Declines Veep Role". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010.