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U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is widely seen as the “safe choice” to become Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running-mate, and that may be the biggest mark against him.

With a resume that includes a stint as a missionary in Honduras before becoming a civil rights lawyer, Kaine could help Clinton check a lot of boxes in the list of requirements for a running mate.

Fluent in Spanish, he could build on her efforts to reach out to Latino voters. Kaine is also affable, savvy about foreign policy and has executive experience as a former governor of Virginia and a former mayor of Richmond, the state’s capital.

And as a Virginian, Kaine could help Clinton win a battleground state in the Nov. 8 race against Republican Donald Trump.

He is the obvious safe choice, according to many Democratic members of Congress. And though the Clinton campaign is keeping the vice presidential selection process tightly under wraps, many Democrats in Washington see Kaine as the front-runner.

But in a year when standard political playbooks are being tossed aside, some Democrats in Congress and in outside groups want to see Clinton make a more unconventional pick for her already historic run as the first female presidential nominee of a major party.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a fierce critic of Wall Street, and Julian Castro, a Latino who is the U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, are among two popular figures mentioned by Democrats who want to see Clinton go bold in her vice presidential decision.

As Clinton moves toward a final decision before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia July 25-28, she is heading out on the campaign trail on Thursday with Kaine, where the two will appear at a rally in Northern Virginia.

Annette Magnus, executive director of Battle Born Progress, a progressive advocacy group in Nevada, said she did not think Kaine would be the best choice.

“For the demographics that we’re looking to motivate in this election, I think it’s going to be really important to have especially a person of color as her running mate,” Magnus said.

Besides Warren and Castro, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Representative Xavier Becerra of California, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and, more recently, retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis have all been mentioned as possibilities.

Asked about Kaine, Artie Blanco, a super delegate from Nevada, said he would not be her top pick.

“Excited, no. Okay with, you know, sure,” she said.

Blanco said she likes Becerra and Perez as potential picks. She said Warren “would be fantastic” and she likes Brown’s stance on worker issues.

CAN HE FIRE UP VOTERS?

Thursday’s event with Kaine will give Clinton an opportunity to gauge whether the 58-year-old Harvard-educated senator would help her fire up a crowd and make for a comfortable fit on the campaign trail.

Some Democratic senators on Wednesday rallied around Kaine.

Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who has served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Kaine, said in a brief interview: “If you look at the totality of Tim’s life and his work, I think there are elements that would bridge that divide” between progressive Democrats and more establishment Democrats who have fostered Clinton’s drive for the White House.

Brown, the senator from Ohio who also has been mentioned as a potential running-mate, played down the divide, saying that now that former rival Bernie Sanders has endorsed Clinton, “the party is not in need of healing particularly. People are on board and ready to go.”

They might be “ready to go” for Clinton, but many are holding out for a more progressive vice presidential pick.

Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Muslim who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, praised Kaine, but said, “I would prefer someone…who’s really going to signal to the progressive base that we’re going to make some advances on this income inequality people have been suffering from.”

 

(Reporting By Richard Cowan in Washington and Luciana Lopez in New York; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Amanda Becker in Washington; Editing by Caren Bohan)

Photo: U.S. senatorial candidate and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo 

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.