Clinton urged to go liberal with vice presidential pick

Haiyun Jiang - Greg Nash

Hillary Clinton would be smart to move left in selecting a running mate to win over supporters of presidential rival Bernie Sanders, say Clinton allies and Democratic strategists.

Picking a liberal running mate would help the Democratic presidential front-runner unify the party, they say, driving young progressives to the polls against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

{mosads}“She needs to do something in the coming weeks to show that she’s also trying to unify the party,” one Clinton surrogate said. “And that would be a clear signal.”

Prospective running mates who would be a hit with progressives include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), the only female Democratic senator who has yet to endorse Clinton, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a prominent opponent of trade deals backed by members of both parties, is another progressive thought to be on Clinton’s shortlist.

A Clinton move to the left would be bad news for two Virginia Democrats, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. 

Kaine has emerged as a top candidate for Clinton, but neither he nor Warner would be seen as a liberal choice. 

Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, said he believes Sanders supporters will eventually coalesce around Clinton regardless of her running mate.

At the same time, Bannon said, “Somehow, finding a moderate white guy doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

A curveball in the Clinton choice is the fate of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman who has emerged as public enemy No. 1 to Sanders supporters. They believe Wasserman Schultz has tilted the contest against the Vermont senator and are pushing for her to be ousted.

Sanders campaign manger Jeff Weaver on Wednesday told CNN that “someone else could play a more positive role” in response to a question about whether Wasserman Schultz should leave her post.

Told that his answer sounded like a yes, Weaver said, “I’m trying to be diplomatic.”

Some Clinton supporters have also said Wasserman Schultz should go in order to unify the party and ensure a strong convention, and Bannon said removing Wasserman Schultz “would buy [Clinton] a lot of goodwill from Sanders supporters” because she is “radioactive right now.”

It’s conceivable that doing so could have an effect on Clinton’s vice presidential choice by diminishing the need for a prominent progressive on the ticket.

Wasserman Schultz is fighting hard to keep her job, however, and has received public support from numerous Democratic officeholders. A second Democratic strategist cast doubt on her exit, predicting she wouldn’t leave her post early “barring some incredible scandal.”

In making a decision, Clinton has to consider more than just what would make the left happy.

Democrats believe their chances of retaining the White House depend on soundly defeating Trump among women and Hispanics.

Clinton needs to work on her weaknesses with young women of all races, strategists say. And she needs to boost her numbers among Hispanics.

“She isn’t going to win the election with the white vote. She’s going to win it because nonwhite voters turn out like crazy,” Bannon said.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro are both seen as attractive candidates who could appeal to the so-called coalition of the ascendant — young voters and minorities — that turned out for President Obama.

Warren is the name that would most excite the Democratic base, and she has been fine-tuning her attacks on Trump. On Tuesday, she went after the Republican nominee over comments he made about the housing crisis, arguing he was “drooling over the idea” of a meltdown because it could line his pocketbook.

“What kind of man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street?” Warren said in a Washington speech.

It’s that kind of talk that has Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons salivating over a Clinton-Warren ticket.

“Hillary Clinton’s biggest challenge is getting Bernie Sanders voters by her side,” said Simmons. “The visual of Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren would be everything.”

While a Clinton aide said the campaign is in regular touch with Warren’s team, other surrogates believe selecting the senator would be a stretch.

Kaine — who was runner-up to Joe Biden when Obama was choosing a running mate in 2008 — is among Clinton’s top choices.

One former aide said Clinton “has a fondness” for the senator.

A point in Kaine’s favor is that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) is urging Clinton against picking a running mate who could be replaced by a Republican governor. Reid is worried such a pick could prevent Democrats from winning the Senate majority.

Democrats need to win four seats if they win the presidency in November, and five if they don’t.

“If we have a Republican governor in any of those states, the answer is not only no but hell no,” Reid told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “I would do whatever I can, and I think most of my Democratic colleagues here would say the same thing.”

Still others say Clinton can’t just think about the left in making a pick.

“To win, you need to turn out your base but also bring in moderates,” the source said. “If you’re focused on your flank, you’re not fighting from a position of strength, and if that’s the case, that’s a problem. If her pick is solely aimed at bringing the Sanders people on board, that’s a problem.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Mark Warner Sherrod Brown Tim Kaine

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video