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Vice Presidential Swap Would Have Been Uncommon, Not Unprecedented

Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Washington is buzzing this week over revelations in the new book Double Down that Obama administration officials considered swapping out Vice President Joe Biden with Hilary Clinton for the number two spot on the 2012 Democratic ticket.

“Campaigns, and pollsters as part of campaigns, test a lot of things,” Carney said, when asked if the President was aware that some of his advisers were discussing replacing Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton.  “What I can tell you without a doubt is that the president never considered that, and had anyone brought that idea to him he would have laughed it out of the room.”

Pressed further by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Carney explained “the president has a partner, in Joe Biden, somebody who has been an enormous asset when it comes to governing here in Washington and an enormous asset in two national elections when it comes to campaigning.”

Though it appears it never got to a stage beyond hypothetical consideration, had a switch actually occurred, it would have of course been a huge deal — but not a first in U.S. history. In fact, there have been several instances where a vice president has been removed from a ticket in a later term. Here’s a look at four vice presidents who were dropped from the ticket for political reasons:

John Nance Garner IV
Garner served as vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Roosevelt’s first two terms — from 1933 to 1941. Garner, who served as speaker of the house before ascending to the vice presidency, ran for the democratic nomination himself in 1932, and eventually cut a deal with FDR when it became clear the president was the favorite for the nod.

The two men did not have a strong relationship, however. Garner, who hailed from Texas, was a more traditional conservative democrat, while Roosevelt was a champion of the more liberal wing of the party. In 1940, before Roosevelt announced his plans to run for a third term, Garner declared his candidacy for president. Of course, Roosevelt did eventually get in the race, and Garner did not drop out. He did not win the Democratic nomination and Roosevelt, not surprisingly, replaced Garner on the ballot with his secretary of agriculture, Henry Wallace.

Henry Agard Wallace

Wallace served as vice president during Roosevelt’s third term, from 1941 to 1945. A liberal democrat from Iowa, Wallace appeared to be a better political match for Roosevelt than his predecessor. However, Wallace never gained favor with the more conservative wing of the party, and he butted heads with other elected officials such as Jesse Jones, the secretary of commerce at the time.

Wallace’s rivalries would prove his undoing, as several leaders of the party rallied against him, and eventually turned FDR against him as well. Wallace was replaced on the ticket by Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman at the 1944 Democratic National Convention. At the time, a major consideration for leaders of the Democratic party was Roosevelt’s declining health, and the selection of Truman altered the course of history — Roosevelt died less than three months into his fourth term.

Hannibal Hamlin
Hamlin, a republican senator and governor from Maine, served as vice president to Abraham Lincoln during Lincoln’s first term, from 1861 to 1865. Hamlin and Lincoln never met until after they won election, but Hamlin made political sense for Lincoln, who was a republican from Illinois, because he hailed from the Northeast, a crucial region for Lincoln’s ultimate election victory.

However, by the time Lincoln was running for reelection in 1964, Hamlin was less politically useful. Lincoln joined forces with the war democrats, and selected a member of their party –  Andrew Jackson of Tennessee — to replace Hamlin on the ticket. This move by Lincoln had a profound affect on the course of American history: Hamlin’s term ended in March, 1985, less than two months before Lincoln was assassinated.

Aaron Burr, Jr.
Burr was the third vice president of the United States, serving under Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson did not select Burr as a running mate, the two men were nominated together by their party — the democratic republicans — and it was understood that Jefferson was to be president, Burr was to be vice president. However, the two men ended up receiving the same number of electoral votes initially, and Burr refused to concede.

The election was ultimately decided by the House of Representatives, where Jefferson of course came out the winner, but the whole debacle certainly did not start the two men off on great footing. Jefferson never trusted Burr, and when Jefferson ran for reelection in 1804, he did not ask Burr to join him. Interestingly enough, the most infamous incident during Burr’s vice presidency is not related to his poor relationship with Jefferson at all. In 1804 while still the VP, Burr shot and killed his rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel. That is the event for which Burr is probably best known.

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