Hillary Offered Edwards Attorney General in 2008

Eric Gay / Associated Press

According to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign consultant David Axelrod, Hillary Clinton was desperate enough in 2008 when she ran against Obama to offer former Senator John Edwards the attorney general slot if he left the presidential campaign and she won the presidency.

A copy of Axelrod’s memoir, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, given to the New York Daily News for perusal before its release, offered some choice tidbits delineating how Edwards’ campaign offered his help if he was properly recompensed.

Axelrod recalls a messenger from Edwards’ campaign approaching him, as the representative of Obama, and purring, “Well between us, Hillary is offering attorney general, but what John really wants is to be on the ticket.” Axelrod adds, “Hillary’s camp was desperate to escort him out the door.”

Axelrod asserts that agents for Edwards asked him and other Obama advisors about what Obama could offer him if he gave Obama his endorsement; one told Axelrod, “He wants to know that there would be a place for him with Barack down the line.” Axelrod boasts, “I recognized a squeeze play when I saw one, and immediately scrambled up some vague assurances. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘John is a talented guy and I’m sure there would be a place for him.’”

But Axelrod states that Obama laughed at the idea of putting Edwards on the ticket. The revelation of Edwards wanting the attorney general slot is not new; New York Magazine reported in 2010 that Edwards felt his chances of getting the job were stronger with Clinton than with Obama. As Edwards said when he announced his candidacy for the 2008 presidential nomination, “I’ve learned since the last campaign that it’s great to identify a problem … but the way you change things is by taking action.”

Edwards had criticized Hillary for months before he endorsed Obama in May of 2008. When he made his endorsement, the New York Times recalled, “Throughout his second bid for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Edwards clashed repeatedly with Mrs. Clinton, criticizing her for accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists, a practice that he fiercely opposed … “You can’t just trade corporate Republicans for corporate Democrats,” he told audiences frequently, an attack aimed at Mrs. Clinton.”


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