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 KaineWarren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (D-Va.) joining Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up 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 John TrumpPossible GOP challenger says Trump doesn't doesn't deserve reelection, but would vote for him over Democrat O'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms 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 SandersJoe Biden faces an uncertain path Bernie Sanders vows to go to 'war with white nationalism and racism' as president Biden: 'There's an awful lot of really good Republicans out there' 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 Ann WarrenPossible GOP challenger says Trump doesn't doesn't deserve reelection, but would vote for him over Democrat Joe Biden faces an uncertain path The Memo: Trump pushes back amid signs of economic slowdown MORE (D-Mass.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Dayton Democrat launches challenge to longtime GOP rep Dayton mayor: Trump visit after shooting was 'difficult on the community' MORE (D-Ohio), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Al Franken urges Trump to give new speech after shootings: 'Try to make it sound like you're sincere, even if you're not' MORE (D-Minn) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico Schumer backs Pelosi as impeachment roils caucus 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 Edward 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.