Plouffe: Sen. Bayh was VP finalist

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) was a finalist to be President Barack Obama’s vice presidential nominee alongside Joe Biden, according to a new book.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s book, excerpted in Time magazine, reveals he and senior strategist David Axelrod met with Biden, Bayh and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), the three finalists for the job.

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During those meetings, Plouffe writes, Biden filibustered the two top strategists, alternately explaining why he should be picked and why he did not want the job. Biden “could not be taught new tricks,” Plouffe writes.

“Bayh’s answers to our questions were substantively close to perfect, if cautiously so,” Plouffe writes. Kaine acknowledged that he was likely on the bottom of the list, and he told Plouffe and Axelrod he would have no hard feelings if he weren't picked.

Then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was a serious contender, though Obama eventually dropped her out of concern that former President Bill Clinton would play a distracting role, according to the book.

Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) selection of then-Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as his running mate was as much of a surprise to the Obama campaign as it was to anyone else. Plouffe writes that he did not even have a research file on the Alaska governor, and that he resorted to Google as he waited for the campaign's research division to work one up.

“Her story was original: small-town mayor takes on the establishment and wins a governor’s race; she was an avid hunter, sportswoman and athlete, and her husband was a champion snowmobiler; she had just given birth to a child with Down syndrome. A profile out of a novel, I thought.”

Still, selecting such an inexperienced politician “completely undermined” McCain's main argument that Obama was not ready to be president, in Plouffe’s view. The seeming hypocrisy, Plouffe writes, caused the campaign to take a much more aggressive tone toward Palin than it would have toward other potential vice presidential nominees.

Plouffe writes that he counseled his candidate against giving a speech on race, but Obama insisted, especially in light of the fallout from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor. Obama told his two senior strategists he had been thinking about the speech “for almost 30 years.”

Plouffe's look back at the race, “The Audacity to Win,” is due out Nov. 3, about a year after Obama won the presidency.