Hillary Clinton may or may not pick Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. There are good arguments both for and against the move. On the one hand, the Massachusetts senator is a liberal who might attract Bernie Sanders die-hards. On the other hand, she wouldn’t exactly bring gender or racial or even much geographic diversity to the ticket.
It all depends on what Mrs. Clinton wants to do with the choice. Most evidence shows vice presidential candidates don’t affect elections much. The first priority with the choice is “Do No Harm.” The selection itself is a window into a candidate’s priorities, however. In that sense it’s important.
But here’s something we do think: Clinton’s already picked Senator Warren for one crucial task. That’s Anti-Trump Agitator in Chief.
In recent weeks it’s Warren who has taken on Trump most directly. Yes, Clinton gave that foreign policy speech that questioned Trump’s temperament. That was fairly tough. But Warren’s Trump comments have been brutal, particularly on social media.
“Your policies are dangerous. Your words are reckless. Your record is embarrassing. And your free ride is over,” Warren tweeted out to Trump back on May 11.
Oh, you thought maybe Warren was just going upside of Trump on her own accord?
That’s possible, sure. But organized presidential campaigns try not to let stuff happen by chance. It is far more likely that Warren coordinated her status as an attack weapon with Clinton’s team and is timing her fusillades accordingly. For all we know, they’re focus-grouping her lines ahead of time to try and make them as effective as possible.
Just look at today’s news: the Washington Post is reporting that on Thursday night Warren is going to hit Trump again. She’ll call him a “loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud,” according to prepared remarks for a speech at the American Constitution Society.
Gee, leaking a story about attacking Trump one day after he’s finally given a speech that’s measured and semi-presidential, like GOP leaders have asked him to do. Who would benefit from that more than the presumptive Democratic nominee?
Warren is filling this role in part because she seems effective. She’s needled Trump enough to get him to respond. He’s made fun of her past claims of Indian heritage and her own real estate deals.
“I hope corrupt Hillary Clinton chooses goofy Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. I will defeat them both,” tweeted Trump last month.
Come on, Mr. Trump, you’re a presumptive nominee yourself. Don’t get snarled up responding to one-term Democratic lawmakers. That’s called punching down.
Another reason Warren is assuming the attack role may be more subtle: college-educated white women are going to be perhaps the most crucial of all demographic groups in the fall. Warren’s one of them. She’s baiting Trump to respond with words educated white women dislike, including an emphasis on physical appearance.
Clinton herself can’t really do that, according to traditional political playbooks. The nominee is supposed to remain above the fray as much as possible.
Of course, the traditional political playbook also assigns the attack dog role to the vice presidential nominee. Which brings us right back to the beginning to this story.