With the Democratic National Convention now only a month away, speculation about Hillary Clinton’s choice for a running mate is starting to gain more attention both from the media and party insiders.
On Friday, Politico released results of an internal poll that surveyed anonymous Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated political activists and party professionals from 10 presidential battleground states about Clinton’s vice-presidential “shortlist”.
The results were unanimous: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine is the former Secretary’s best all around option for Democratic ticket’s second slot.
Among Republicans and independents, 34 percent said Kaine is Clinton’s “strongest running mate”, followed by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker with 14 percent, and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, both garnering 13 percent.
Similarly, 29.2 percent of Democratic insiders said they would “like to see” Kaine run with Clinton, compared to 14.6 percent who support Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and 12.6 percent who favor Castro.
Certainly Kaine is the safest choice for Clinton. A political moderate with a sterling resume from what is now a swing-state, some will argue that the Democratic nominee need not take a chance with a left-wing ideologue or nationally unproven candidate.
“Tim Kaine would be an extraordinary vice president,” said one Democratic respondent from New Hampshire. “A genuinely nice guy, he would bring much to the ticket and the administration . . . America could no do better.”
Previous to his election as a U.S. senator in 2012, Kaine served as Virginia’s governor (2006-2010), chairman of the Democratic National Committee (2009-2011) and mayor of Richmond (1998-2001).
An attorney by trade, Sen. Kaine earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1983 and speaks fluent Spanish, which he learned after spending a year in Honduras as a Catholic missionary.
Republicans responding to the survey also showered the Old Dominion stalwart with praise:
“[Kaine] sends a signal to moderates, independent and even some disappointed Republicans that the water is fine, come on in,” said a Republican from Virginia. “He isn’t necessary to carry Virginia, but he could be a very powerful validator.”
“Kaine is a safe, thoroughly vetted choice,” said another GOP professional from North Carolina. “As someone who worked a campaign against Kaine and lost, I would also note that Kaine’s dirty little secret is that behind that ‘safe’ veneer, he’s actually a really good retail politician.”
While progressive Democrats would be disappointed that one of their own wasn’t selected, Kaine may be the charismatic figure Clinton needs to off-set her bland personality while keeping with her propensity for risk-aversion.
Indeed, Bernie Sanders finished last with only two percent support among all potential running mate candidates based on survey results from Democratic insiders.
Washington Post columnist Chris Cilliza opined in a piece published Friday that with Donald Trump’s unfavorable rating at nearly 70 percent, only $1.3 million campaign funds as of May 31 and failure to coalesce party support around his candidacy so far, Clinton can afford to play it safe.
One real risk of Clinton not choosing a progressive Democrat, however, is the alienation of Bernie Sanders’ supporters — over 12 million of which voted for the Vermont senator in the 2016 primaries alone.
Clinton will need a majority of Sanders voters to support her in November, or risk relying on estranged Republicans who refuse to vote for Trump — another risky proposition.
[Politico] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Eric Thayer/New York Times]