Clinton's search for Vice President narrows as convention nears

The short list includes former governor and current Sen. Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia; Tom Vilsack, secretary of the US Department of Agriculture; and Tom Perez, US Labor Secretary.

Andrew Harnik/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by Sen. Tim Kaine, (D) of Virginia, speaks at a rally at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., July 14.

With the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia starting next week, Hillary Clinton is narrowing her search for a vice presidential running mate and a decision is expected as soon as Friday.

While the process has been kept under wraps with only Mrs. Clinton and her close advisers in the know, a likely short list has emerged, consisting of former governor and current Sen. Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia; Tom Vilsack, secretary of the US Department of Agriculture; and Tom Perez, US Labor Secretary.

The selection of a running mate is more than just a strategic move, it is the first time the American public can observe Clinton's decisionmaking as a presidential nominee, as The Christian Science Monitor's Francine Kiefer reported earlier this month.

The prevailing question is, “Would this person be a good president?” Clinton told Charlie Rose of CBS News and PBS on Monday night. “You know, I am afflicted with the responsibility gene, and I know what it’s like being president. I’ve seen it up close, I’ve worked for one, I’ve had that experience. So for me there is nothing more important than my rock-solid conviction that the person I choose could literally get up one day and be the president of the United States.”

Senator Kaine has emerged as the forerunner in the vice presidential bid, thanks to his experience in presidential battleground state of Virginia as governor and senator. Additionally he has served as the Democratic National Committee chairman and worked on fair housing and civil rights issues while practicing as a lawyer. His time as a Catholic missionary and fluent Spanish could also be useful to draw in votes from disparate demographics. And he has never lost an election.

Kaine could help to underscore some of the qualities that Clinton has been trying to emphasize throughout her campaign, as the Monitor reported:

Were she to settle on Senator Kaine, it would underscore her pragmatism and emphasis on experience, the very qualities she’s been trying to highlight from the beginning of her campaign. Though he humorously confesses he is “boring,” he is well-respected by Senate colleagues, and brings a wealth of governing experience.

Kaine has been described as being very Obama-like, and was an early Obama supporter in the 2008 election.

“He is this progressive Catholic. He’s like an Obama Catholic,” one senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment frankly about the president, told The Washington Post. “He has thought a lot about these things and can interpret Obama.”

Secretary Vilsack who, like Kaine, has experience as governor – in Iowa, has the advantage of a close personal friendship with the Clintons. Clinton was a key supporter in Vilsack's gubernatorial victory in 1998 and his brother-in-law worked with the presidential candidate in the 1970s. This isn’t the first time Vilsack has been looking at a place on a presidential ticket. John Kerry considered the former governor for a running mate in 2004, and he launched his own, unsuccessful and short lived, presidential campaign in 2008.

Both Kaine and Vilsack are likely to deliver their home states, but in this respect Vilsack has the advantage. Iowa is a swing state, while Virginia has voted for the democratic candidate in the past two presidential elections.

“He’s not a lot of bling and glitter; he’s just Iowa solid,” Bonnie Campbell, an Iowa Democratic strategist with longtime ties to both Clinton and Vilsack, told The Washington Post.

Secretary Perez is a progressive powerhouse and highly respected within the White House for his policy skills. As the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, he could unite Latino voters who have turned away from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump because of his anti-immigration stance. He has also headed the civil rights division of the Justice Department, served as the a federal prosecutor, and worked as an aide to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts.

According to Democratic Party representatives who spoke with The Washington Post, it does not appear that Perez is being considered quite as seriously as Kain and Vilsack, but is a promising third choice.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts, who was a favorite among liberal voters (particularly the Bernie Sanders supporters) Clinton needs to unite the party, has not been officially ruled out, but is not expected to be the final choice, despite the tantalizing prospect of an all-female presidential ticket, according to the Associated Press.

Clinton’s decision is expected to come during her time campaigning in Florida this weekend, either at a rally scheduled to be held at the state fairgrounds in Tampa or Saturday at Florida International University in Miami.

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