Bill Gates for VP? Hacked emails reveal Clinton’s unorthodox considerations

Democratic presidential nominee vetted some 'outside of the box' contenders before settling on Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate, according to emails leaked Monday.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Supporters of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine wave signs to passing motorists ahead of tonight's debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, October 4.

Hillary Clinton's campaign circulated an initial list of nearly 40 elected officials, military leaders, and corporate executives to be considered for vice president last spring. The list was included among hacked emails from Mrs. Clinton's campaign chairman disclosed Tuesday by WikiLeaks.

The list emailed from John Podesta to Hillary Clinton last March included several Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tim Kaine of Virginia, who was eventually picked by Clinton.

Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton's opponent in the hotly contested Democratic primary, also made the list — at the very bottom.

Podesta organized the list into "rough food groups" including blacks, women, and Hispanics such as Obama administration Cabinet members Julian Castro of Housing and Urban Development and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

African-Americans who made the list included Sen. Cory Booker, (D) of New Jersey, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Besides Senator Warren, women on the list of possibilities included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York, Amy Klobuchar (D) of Minnesota, Claire McCaskill (D) of Missorui, and Tammy Baldwin, (D) Wisconsin, who is openly gay.

Another group of possibilities that appeared to represent "outside-the-box" options included former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tim Cook of Apple, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, Howard Schultz of Starbucks and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen.

Clinton's eventual pick of Senator Kaine was seen by some pundits as the safe choice, a vote for experience over charisma, as The Christian Science Monitor's Francine Kiefer reported in July:

Kaine is not vrooming with charisma, as is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whom Clinton took for a spin before a wildly enthusiastic crowd last month. But neither will he upstage Clinton – which is a risk with Senator Warren – though he does play a mean harmonica and sometimes whips it out at campaign stops.

Nor does he come from a crucial rust-belt swing state, like the trade-deal critic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who might help beat back Donald Trump’s appeal to the angry working class. But Virginia, too, is a key swing state, and unlike Ohio, it has a Democratic governor who would appoint a Democrat to replace Kaine – though a special election would eventually have to follow.

Neither could Kaine nail the Hispanic vote quite like Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who is also reportedly under consideration. But the senator does speak Spanish fluently, going back to his time at Harvard Law School when he broke off for a year to teach at a Jesuit mission in Honduras. He may even help move a few more white males into Clinton’s column.

Most important, Kaine’s experience in elected office far exceeds that of Mr. Perez – or pretty much anyone else under consideration. He can check just about every box in government: from council member and mayor in Richmond, Va., to lieutenant governor, then governor, and now US senator. Before he was elected to the Senate in 2012, he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Obama.

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