Now that Hillary Clinton has all but locked up the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, the question at hand is who will she pick as her VP running mate in order to satisfy the far-left base of her party.
It seems highly unlikely that Clinton would pick Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders as her running mate, so instead she has been left to find a suitable liberal replacement.
Well, if reports are true, it appears as though Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has risen to the top of Clinton’s veep list.
Kaine currently towers over other top-tier candidates still in consideration like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, California Rep. Xavier Becerra and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.
“Tim Kaine was a finalist eight years ago because of his executive experience, solidity, values, standing in a critical state and overall profile as someone who would be a good governing partner to Obama,” said former Obama senior strategist David Axelrod, who was involved in the selection process eight years ago. “He was very much in contention and highly regarded.”
The selection process, however, is colored by new uncertainty among Democratic donors and Clinton allies who are no longer convinced that Donald Trump is sure to be the GOP nominee. A big advantage of holding their convention second, Democrats said, was being able to make a final pick with full knowledge of the GOP ticket.
At a fundraiser in Manhattan earlier this week, Clinton was peppered with questions from her top donors about whether there is any chance that the Republicans could nominate someone else — she said she thought the chances of that outcome were low.
Clinton also joked that she is still open to expanding her vice presidential search beyond the list of elected officials that so far has emerged. “If anyone has any ideas, let me know,” she told the crowd. “If anyone wants to put their name in the ring, let me know.”
But Kaine, 58, is still viewed as the safest and most attractive option. Unlike Warren, who sat out the primary and endorsed after President Obama did, Kaine came around to Clinton two years ago, joining the “Ready for Hillary” group in 2014 at the South Carolina Democratic Party women’s breakfast. He was an active member of the group, sending surrogate emails and fundraising, according to a former operative. Over the past year, he has traveled to seven states as a Clinton surrogate and is often on campaign calls with reporters.
In February, for example, during one of the low points of Clinton’s campaign, Kaine, who sits on both the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, spoke about the “commander-in-chief gap” between Sanders and Clinton on a conference call with the press.
With a five to eight point lead in the most recent national polls, and a huge advantage in cash over Trump, Clinton does not need to take a big risk, said half a dozen Democrats close to her campaign.
“She is in a strong position and doesn’t need to throw the long ball,” said Democratic consultant Michael Feldman, a former top aide to Al Gore. “More important, she is experienced and has been around the process long enough to know the essential criteria. Do no harm, because the downside of a mistake is greater than the upside of a great choice. Make sure it is someone who you are ready to work down the hall from for the next four to eight years.”
Kaine’s office has helpful ties to Clinton, too. His chief of staff, Mike Henry, was a deputy campaign manager for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and went on to run Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for Virginia governor later that year. The idea of McAuliffe, Clinton’s most trusted ally, filling his vacant seat is also appealing.
What are your thoughts on Clinton potentially picking a senator from the all-important swing state of Virginia to serve has her running mate? How will Donald Trump respond? Let us know in the comments section below!