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In Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton Weighs A ‘Safe’ VP Pick

Campaign 2016 Headlines Politics

In Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton Weighs A ‘Safe’ VP Pick

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

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.


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 



  1. FT66 July 14, 2016

    I like Kaine but we are not going to win without exciting voters. Thats is quite impossible. Hillary can’t excite people and to pick her VP who is the same like her and expect to win!! Young voters need to be excited in order to go and vote. 2008 & 2012 were very good example. And we need young voters very badly.

    1. RobertCHastings July 14, 2016

      The Clintons (they will, after all, be a package deal on the campaign trail this Fall), can and will excite people, much as Obama did in 2008. Hillary showed her presence AND spunk in some of the Benghazi hearings and, though “trust” SEEMS to be an issue, her supporters are beginning to release some excellent advertisements that establish a strong base for trusting her AND for DIStrusting Trump.

      1. FT66 July 15, 2016

        Unfortunately, young supporters are not watching ads. They need someone to fire them up. As Bernie Sanders did recently, and the then senator of Ilinois did in 2008 & 2012. Forget about Benghazi and emails. No one will cast the vote because Hillary spunk anyone on these. I have to repeat again: We need the EXCITEMENT.

  2. A. D. Reed July 14, 2016

    I’m a fan of Castro and Perez, both young Hispanics with a good, solid track record as Cabinet secretaries and, in Castro’s case, as mayor of San Antonio, and Perez’s, as a legislator. Both are “next generation” Hispanics, too, which moves the Latino population into the mainstream of politics, culture, and “authenticity.”

    I’m certain Warren and Brown are not on the list, simply because a win with either one would allow a Republican governor to put a Republican successor in the Senate — a calamity if Clinton’s coat-tails are strong enough to flip the Senate this fall. And I seriously doubt she’ll choose a military guy — she’s already been lambasted enough as a hawk and war-monger, and choosing Stavridis would totally alienate Bern-heads. She needs their votes; she’s already got those of the internationaist, hawkish middle of the party. But she might name him Secretary of State.

    To me it seems that Kaine would be the choice who would do the least for her. She’s already strong in Virginia, which elected a Democratic governor in 2013 and Senator in 2014 and is trending bluer each year — whereas Castro or Perez would excite people the way the young Obama did 8 years ago.

    Castro could help turn Texas blue, if not this year, then in 2020. El Paso, San Antone, Dallas, and Austin are progressive enough to elect Democrats, and even Houston has a lesbian police chief; with all the Hispanics who are legal voters there, their time is coming. And Wendy Davis mobilized Texas women whose rights are being truncated every month by the Lege, so there’s a slow-moving tide in the blue direction in the Lone Star State.

    But what do I know? I’m not inside the Beltway.

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  5. charleo1 July 17, 2016

    Realizing as I must, my personal politics are often left of my Party’s. My druthers are, if she’s not gong with a bold pick like Sanders, or Warren. I like Sherrod Brown from Ohio. Or the lesser known Cory Booker, an otherwise very compelling choice in terms of wanting our vice Presidents to be the smartest, most capable person in the room, if fate should intervene in the worst possible way. But more than personalities, I would like to see the Democratic Campaign emphasize more on things like the importance of electing Democratic Governors, Democratically controlled State Legislatures, and concentrating on building Democratic majorities in Congress. That’s if we expect this President we work so hard to elect, to be able to actually do any of the important business she’s talking about in her campaign. After all, remember the mid-terms of 2010? Afterwards, when Obama was ask if he still had a, “bucket list,” of things he wanted to accomplish as President? He replied that he now had something that “rhymed with bucket list.” Look, if we don’t vote, we don’t count. And if we don’t count, what we would like to see, does not matter.


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