Friday 20 April 2018

'Safe choice' Kaine front-runner for Hillary Clinton's No.2

Reaching out: Hillary Clinton. Photo: Reuters
Reaching out: Hillary Clinton. Photo: Reuters

Richard Cowan

US Senator Tim Kaine is widely seen as the "safe choice" to become Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running-mate, and that may be the biggest mark against him.

With a resume that includes a stint as a missionary in Honduras before becoming a civil rights lawyer, Mr Kaine could help Ms Clinton check a lot of boxes in the list of requirements for a running mate.

Fluent in Spanish, he could build on her efforts to reach out to Latino voters.

Mr Kaine is also affable, savvy about foreign policy and has executive experience as a former governor of Virginia and a former mayor of Richmond, the state's capital. And as a Virginian, Mr Kaine could help Clinton win a battleground state in the November 8 race against Republican Donald Trump.

He is the obvious safe choice, according to many Democratic members of Congress. And though the Clinton campaign is keeping the vice presidential selection process tightly under wraps, many Democrats in Washington see Kaine as the front-runner.

But in a year when standard political playbooks are being tossed aside, some Democrats in Congress and in outside groups want to see Ms Clinton make a more unconventional pick for her already historic run as the first female presidential nominee of a major party.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren, a fierce critic of Wall Street, and Julian Castro, a Latino who is the US secretary of housing and urban development, are among two popular figures mentioned by Democrats who want to see Ms Clinton be bold in her vice presidential decision.

As Ms Clinton moves toward a final decision before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, from July 25-28, she was due to head out on the campaign trail yesterday with Kaine, where the two will appear at a rally in Northern Virginia.

Read more: Trump picks conservative Pence as his running mate

Annette Magnus, executive director of Battle Born Progress, a progressive advocacy group in Nevada, said she did not think Kaine would be the best choice.

"For the demographics that we're looking to motivate in this election, I think it's going to be really important to have especially a person of colour as her running mate," Ms Magnus said.

Besides Ms Warren and Mr Castro, Labour Secretary Tom Perez, Representative Xavier Becerra of California, US Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and, more recently, retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis have all been mentioned as possibilities.

Asked about Mr Kaine, Artie Blanco, a super delegate from Nevada, said he would not be her top pick.

"Excited, no. Okay with, you know, sure," she said.

Ms Blanco said she likes Mr Becerra and Mr Perez as potential picks. She said Ms Warren "would be fantastic" and she likes Mr Brown's stance on worker issues. The event with Mr Kaine will give Ms Clinton an opportunity to gauge whether the 58-year-old Harvard-educated senator would help her fire up a crowd and make for a comfortable fit on the campaign trail.

Some Democratic senators on Wednesday rallied around Mr Kaine.

Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who has served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Mr Kaine, said in a brief interview: "If you look at the totality of Tim's life and his work, I think there are elements that would bridge that divide" between progressive Democrats and more establishment Democrats who have fostered Ms Clinton's drive for the White House.

Irish Independent

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