Hillary Clinton and her team keep dropping big-league hints that her vice-presidential announcement is imminent.
Hillary will announce her running mate soon! Text VP to 47246 and be the first to know who she picks.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) July 22, 2016
It’s expected that the pick will come either later today or sometime Saturday as Clinton travels through the swing state of Florida before making her way northward to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.
While the Clinton team has worked very hard to protect the identity of the eventual pick, a shortlist — and a very clear front-runner — have emerged. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is the favorite, with the likes of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren all still mentioned.
Signs over the last few days have pointed directly to Kaine. A New York Times report earlier this week suggested that Bill Clinton, the potential First Dude, favored Kaine. White House press secretary Josh Earnest floated Kaine’s name from the podium this week as well.
And Kaine makes a lot of sense for Clinton. He is a former mayor and governor from a swing state. He speaks fluent Spanish. He did missionary work. He is widely regarded as pleasant, optimistic and capable if a bit, well, boring.
But, knowing Clinton, boring likely appeals to her. She is by nature a deeply cautious and guarded politician — always looking (and looking) before she leaps. That is doubly true in a race like this one, in which she faces in Donald Trump the most unpredictable and unorthodox presidential nominee in major-party history.
Coming off Trump’s wacky and wild convention in Cleveland — ended by a dark acceptance speech in which he cast a dystopian eye on the country — Clinton is likely to be even more drawn to someone with Kaine’s profile.
Look at it from Clinton’s perspective: She enters her convention with significant edges in the electoral map and the demographic makeup of the country. (Trump remains mired in the teens when it comes to support from Hispanics.) Most national polling puts her ahead — albeit narrowly — and she leads in most key swing states, too.
Why rock the boat? Why draw any attention away from the traveling circus that is Trump’s campaign? If the essence of Clinton’s campaign is steadiness, experience and calm, picking Kaine is a doubling down on that brand. Plus, he was already fully vetted by the Obama team back in 2008 — Kaine finished second to Joe Biden in that veepstakes — and seemingly represents very little risk for Clinton.
Her other possible selections chart a different course — with the exception of Vilsack, who is in the Kaine mold, solid and steady. Warren or Perez would be a bow to the party’s liberal left and, in the case of Perez, to the growing Hispanic community in the country. But, if you believe polls, Clinton has very little problem among either of those groups. Booker would not only be the first African American vice-presidential candidate for either major party, but would also mark a generational bridge; Clinton is 68, Booker 47.
Clinton could surprise and go with someone other than Kaine, of course. Vice-presidential handicapping is extraordinarily difficult because of the very small number of people who have any genuine insight into the candidate’s decision-making process.
But Clinton tends toward predictability and caution. And if those fundamental candidate traits hold true, we are very likely to see the Virginia senator by her side as her running mate sometime in the next 48 hours.