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Clinton’s 9 most likely VP picks

Clinton’s 9 most likely VP picks
© Haiyun Jiang

While liberal icon Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden defends his health plan from Trump attacks Progressives blast Biden plan to form panel on Supreme Court reform Biden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver MORE (D-Mass.) is getting the lion’s share of attention as a possible vice presidential pick for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Trump, Biden tangle over Wall Street ties, fundraising The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage MORE, it’s anything but a one-horse race. 

Here are the Democrats best-positioned to become the running mate of the presumptive nominee.

1. Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats have no case against Amy Coney Barrett — but that won't stop them Pence-Harris debate draws more than 50M viewers, up 26 percent from 2016 Five takeaways from the vice presidential debate MORE (Va.)

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Kaine holds important advantages over Warren despite the wave of excitement sparked by Monday’s joint campaign event with Clinton and Warren in Cincinnati. He’s less risky, less likely to overshadow the former first lady, and has been a loyal foot soldier in the Clinton cause in recent years.

The big criticism of Kaine is that he won’t help Clinton excite the Democratic base. Like her, he is part of the more centrist strand of the party. Unlike her, his views on abortion, as The Hill recently reported, seem likely to disconcert abortion-rights groups as well.

But those concerns may well be trumped by other factors. Aside from his reputation as a safe pair of hands, Kaine can reinforce Clinton’s main argument that only those tempered by experience are ready to serve as president. He has served as governor of Virginia as well as in the Senate.

Kaine was also vetted by President Obama as a potential running mate in 2008, so he knows the process.

2. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)

Warren’s speech electrifying the crowd on Monday raised her stock to an all-time high.

It wasn’t just Warren’s effect on the crowd that impressed observers. The vigor with which she praised Clinton was conspicuous, given that the two have had a complicated political relationship. “We’re here to fight side by side with Hillary Clinton,” she said.

But there are still reasons to believe that Warren won’t ultimately get the nod. Her more emphatic rhetoric against Wall Street excesses and the downsides of international trade deals sits uneasily with Clinton. Although the former secretary of State has moved left of late, the two women are cut from different ideological cloths.

Warren also has her own large and energized power base within the party. Even in the best-case scenario for Clinton, in which Warren joins her on the ticket and they win an easy victory in November, would the first female president spend the next four years looking over her shoulder at a vice president who might aspire to be the second?

3. Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Congress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act Democratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry MORE (Ohio)

Brown, the left-leaning Ohio senator, has been a high-profile surrogate for Clinton in recent weeks. On Tuesday, he participated in a conference call blasting presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE’s economic policy. In a news release from the Clinton campaign, Brown was quoted portraying Trump as someone who “lines his pockets at the expense of American workers.”

To those who champion him as a VP pick, Brown has advantages similar to Warren’s in terms of revving up progressives but with the important bonus that he is from a swing state.

The doubters, however, suggest he would pull Clinton unnecessarily to the left and that he lacks Warren’s star power. 

A Republican research document recently leaked to The Huffington Post also seemed to suggest the GOP fancied its chances of sullying Brown’s image. 

He “has a number of extremely liberal votes from his political past that can be held against him. These include voting against pay raises for the military,” the document noted.

4. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez

Speculation has waxed and waned about whether Clinton might choose a Hispanic running mate in order to press home her advantage over Trump with that community.

If she decided to do so, Perez could be a real contender. His was among nine names on her VP shortlist, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

Perez has a resume to impress the progressive base. He served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division and, long before that, served as an aide to liberal icon Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

In a sense, however, Perez’s chances could be harmed by Trump. The GOP hopeful is doing so badly with minorities in polls that Clinton may simply feel no great need to choose a Hispanic running mate. 

5. Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.)

Choosing Booker would provide Clinton with a youthful, charismatic and media-savvy running mate. The fact that Booker is African-American could also boost black turnout, though Clinton is already strong in that regard.

But Booker also has his critics. In the past, they have charged him with being more concerned about tending to his Twitter account than partaking in the more prosaic work of governance.

Much of the media attention Booker receives is favorable, bordering on fawning. It is not certain how he would stand up to the intense scrutiny of a presidential race.

6. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDurbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing MORE (Minn.)

Klobuchar is, next to Warren, the most likely woman to be named Clinton’s running mate. The Minnesotan has been effusive about Clinton. “What this means to me and so many other women across the country is that anything and everything is possible,” she told NPR earlier this month, after Clinton became the presumptive nominee.

Klobuchar has significant political skills and no glaring deficiencies, but it would still be a surprise if Clinton picked her. She’s also from a very safe Democratic state that no Republican presidential candidate has carried since incumbent President Nixon in 1972.

7. Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraSecond court blocks Trump's order to exclude undocumented immigrants from census California Republicans agree not to use unofficial ballot drop boxes Schwarzenegger: California GOP has gone 'off the rails' with unofficial ballot boxes MORE (Calif.)

The eagerness of Becerra to win the vice presidential slot has been the subject of some good-natured mockery from his colleagues.

Last week, the California congressman offered Clinton a glass of water when she visited Capitol Hill. “You’re really working it, huh, Xavier?” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), drawing laughter from his colleagues.

Despite the jibes, House Democrats would be enthused if Becerra did become Clinton’s running mate.

Becerra, who is Hispanic and a vigorous supporter of immigration reform, could be an attractive pick. But it’s just not clear whether Clinton would go for a congressman who is relatively unknown on the national stage. 

8. Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Intel leadership urges American vigilance amid foreign election interference Intel officials say Iran, Russia seeking to influence election Senate Intel leaders warn of election systems threats MORE (Va.)

Warner has cause to wonder why Kaine’s name is mentioned so often as a possible VP and his own is not. He has plenty of similarities with his fellow Virginian: They are both centrists and served as governor of the commonwealth before making it to the Senate.

Both, however, also lack charisma, and that seems to have hampered Warner’s political progress more. In 2014, he came within a whisker of losing his seat, which doesn’t auger well for his chances. 

9. Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenTina Smith and Jason Lewis tied in Minnesota Ted Cruz mocks Al Franken over 'I Hate Ted Cruz Pint Glass' GOP Senate candidate says Trump, Republicans will surprise in Minnesota MORE (Minn.)

Franken stoked speculation when he told The Associated Press last week that he would take the vice presidential slot if Clinton requested that he do so. 

But, in that same interview, he noted that he was not being vetted for the role, to the best of his knowledge.

Franken is a serious figure these days but he remains best known to the general public as a comic who’s been part of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” cast. 

That makes him an unlikely choice, given that Clinton’s campaign is trying to portray Trump as unqualified and lacking gravitas. At the simplest level, attacking Trump as a reality TV star would be more difficult if a comic were on the Democratic ticket.