Clinton’s Veep Shortlist Just Got a Lot Shorter
Policy + Politics

Clinton’s Veep Shortlist Just Got a Lot Shorter

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive presidential nominee, appears to have narrowed her list of prospective running mates to just two or three, and her final decision is likely to come either Friday or Saturday, just ahead of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia next week.

Locked in a bitter and increasingly tight race with Republican nominee Donald Trump, the former secretary of state has little margin for error in picking a running mate – someone who not only complements her personality and political mindset but also strengthens her hand in one or two key battleground states.

Related: Clinton Opens the Door to a Trump Surge in Key Swing States

Clinton could also be helped by a political partner who strengthens the ticket on national security and anti-terrorism issues. While Clinton consistently runs ahead of Trump in the polls on questions of government experience and competence, her rival is viewed as a stronger and more forceful leader, better equipped for leading the country against ISIS and domestic terrorists.

Here are the three potential choices who are getting the most media buzz:

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. The former mayor, governor and Democratic National Committee chair has been widely considered to be Clinton’s safest pick because of his breadth of experience, center-right policy stands, even-tempered demeanor and his ability to help put Virginia in the Democratic column again.

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Clinton is looking for someone both well-grounded in government and absolutely loyal, and the 58-year-old Kaine easily fits that bill. Even Kaine’s description of himself as “boring” doesn’t bother Clinton one bit. “I love that about him,” she told Charlie Rose of CBS News. If there’s a flaw in his armor, it may be the recent report by Politico that Kaine took full advantage of Virginia’s lax ethics law governing public officials by accepting more than $160,000 of gifts between 2001 and 2009, when he served as lieutenant governor and governor.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The former Iowa governor and Obama administration Cabinet member is another extraordinarily capable -- yet not terribly exciting – political veteran who would bring considerable political smarts and gravitas to the ticket. The 65-year old Vilsack, a one-time small-town mayor, has been described as a “solid centrist” with strong ties to Iowa’s agriculture industry.

Vilsack has the added advantage of having a close, long-standing friendship with Clinton. And he is likely to be able to help Clinton pull out a victory this fall in Iowa, an important battle-ground state that leans red. “He’s not a lot of bling and glitter, he’s just Iowa solid,” Bonnie Campbell, an Iowa Democratic strategist, told The Washington Post.

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Ret. Admiral James G. Stavridis –If anything, the retired four-star Navy admiral and NATO commander is the longest of long-shots on a very short list of candidates. Stavridis, 61, currently the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, has no discernible political experience.

However, he worked closely with Clinton while she was secretary of state and he boasts experience overseeing NATO operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and the Balkans. With Trump and his allies blasting Clinton for serious missteps in Libya and Syria, Clinton might find Stavridis a good person to have riding shotgun when the campaign really heats up this fall.

Four others still being mentioned: Colorado Gov, John Hickenlooper; HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts