Liberals press Clinton not to pick Kaine for VP

Liberals press Clinton not to pick Kaine for VP
© Greg Nash

Liberal Democrats are launching an eleventh-hour campaign against Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Manchin, Sinema join GOP to sink filibuster change for voting bill Desperate Dems signal support for cutting Biden bill down in size MORE (D-Va.) joining Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE's presidential ticket.

The advocates say Kaine, a moderate who's risen to the top of the VP shortlist, should be disregarded both for his positions on trade and for joining an effort this week to deregulate some of the nation's largest banks.

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"Let's be really clear: It should be disqualifying for any potential Democratic vice presidential candidate to be part of a lobbyist-driven effort to help banks dodge consumer protection standards and regulations designed to prevent banks from destroying our economy," Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, a liberal advocacy group, said Thursday in a statement. 

"Our presidential ticket cannot beat the billionaire bigot by simply being not Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE. To win in November, our ticket needs to have an unquestionably strong record in the fight against income inequality, one of the defining issues of the 2016 election."

The advocates are warning that a centrist like Kaine would send the wrong message to the liberals constituting the Democrats' base — many of whom had supported Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Briahna Joy Gray: Last-minute push for voting legislation felt 'perfomative' Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (I-Vt.) in the primary — and dampen turnout at the polls in November.

"Hillary Clinton's vice presidential pick will be seen by many as a proxy for how she will govern — boldly or cautiously?" Stephanie Taylor, head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), said Thursday in a statement.

"The wrong pick could deflate energy among potential donors and volunteers, hurting Democratic efforts to win the White House."

Taylor said the litmus test for a vice presidential pick should be twofold: First, the candidate should support efforts to rein in Wall Street banks; and second, the pick should oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping global trade deal championed by President Obama.

Kaine fails on both counts. He backed fast-track authority to help Obama move the TPP quickly. And just this week, he endorsed a letter calling on the administration to roll back certain consumer protection requirements governing some banks.

Choosing someone with those views, Taylor warned, would create "a giant opening for [Donald] Trump and other Republicans to outflank Democrats on economic populism issues and win important swing votes."

"Clinton should also push the White House to take TPP off the table in a lame duck Congress, so this issue doesn't divide Democrats during this important campaign," she added. 

Adam Green, another co-founder of the PCCC, said the preferred candidates in the eyes of liberals are Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple MORE (D-Mass.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump On the Money — Student borrowers stare down rising prices Biden selects Sarah Bloom Raskin, two others for Fed board MORE (D-Ohio), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMeet the Democrats' last best hope of preserving a House majority Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour MORE (D-Minn) and Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Manchin, Sinema join GOP to sink filibuster change for voting bill Senate GOP blocks election bill, setting up filibuster face-off MORE (D-Ore).

"They'd galvanize voters and volunteers, keep Democrats united, and put us on a path to victory," Green said Thursday in an email. 

He also mentioned Labor Secretary Thomas PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE, "assuming he publicly opposed TPP."

The push by liberals highlights the tensions still lingering among Democrats in the wake of a hard-fought primary contest between Clinton and Sanders, a liberal icon who generated an enormous following by pressing Clinton relentlessly from the left throughout the contest. 

Clinton has long been accused of being too cozy with Wall Street, and Sanders hammered her over the enormous speaking fees she accepted from large banks prior to the campaign. And as secretary of State, she had signaled support for the TPP, though she shifted gears amid the primary and now says she opposes the deal. 

A number of liberal groups are planning to take their advocacy to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week to protest what they consider Clinton's too-conservative position on a number of issues.

One group, Americans Against Fracking, has organized a march Sunday on the eve of the gathering, to challenge Clinton's embrace of the controversial method of extracting natural gas from miles underground. Echoing Sanders, the group is urging a federal ban on the practice and increased funding for renewable energy.