Former secretary of state and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is expected to name her running mate for the 2016 general election any day now. Until recently, that list was somewhat long—it included secretary of housing and urban development Julián Castro, former governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, secretary of labor Tom Perez, former governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer, California congressman Xavier Becerra, and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.
There were many that speculated that Clinton might select Warren in order to shore up the further-left reaches of the Democratic party, voters that united around Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’s primary challenge. Others said she would select Castro, Perez, or Becerra to appeal to Latino voters.
These ideas may well have been part of the strategy to date; but Donald Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his running mate was a game changer. Given Spence’s establishment bona fides, Clinton aides feel their candidate is now free to choose a more run-of-the-mill running mate, someone that might appeal to the bloc of white, male voters that are overwhelmingly suspicious of, if not outright opposed to, a Clinton presidency.
Today’s shortlist reportedly includes Virginia senator Tim Kaine, agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and former naval admiral James Stavridis, and New Jersey senator Cory Booker. Sources close to the secretary told The Washington Post that Tom Perez is a “solid third choice,” behind Kaine and Vilsack, and that he met with the nominee at her home in Washington last Friday.
As of now, it appears Vilsack has the most to offer the Clinton campaign in terms of adding numerical electability to the ticket. A moderate liberal from a swing state (Iowa, where he is a popular former governor) with a blue collar background, he would serve Clinton well in an effort to siphon off white, male voters from the void of undecideds between herself and Trump.
The secretary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, is said to be backing Tim Kaine, however. According to The New York Times, Bill believes Kaine “has the domestic and national security résumé that both appeals to voters and makes him prepared for the presidency.” But an aura of possible corruption surrounds the Virginia governor, not unlike that which permeates the Clinton campaign. Supporters worry selecting Kaine would only confirm on-the-fence voters’ fears.
That said, it will be difficult for Clinton to justify selecting a white, male running mate from a field which, at one time or another, has included a woman, three Hispanics, and two African Americans—especially considering how much emphasis the campaign placed on the importance of identity politics in the primary against Bernie Sanders.