Clinton Campaign Looking Beyond Sanders, Looking At Potential Running Mates

Hillary Clinton's campaign is beginning to look beyond Bernie Sanders and talk about running mates.

Clinton CFR Speech

Bernie Sanders may not be giving up his increasingly quixotic quest for the Democratic nomination for President, but Hillary Clinton is apparently already thinking about running mates:

NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton’s short list of vice presidential options will include a woman, a top campaign official said in an interview — creating the possibility of an all-female ticket emerging from the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Clinton wants “the best person to make the case to the American people,” her campaign chairman, John Podesta, told the Globe. “We’ll start with a broad list and then begin to narrow it. But there is no question that there will be women on that list,” he said, adding that staffers are still focused on clinching the primary.

The development immediately injects liberal darling Senator Elizabeth Warren’s name into the growing speculation about who Clinton will choose as her running mate now that she is almost certainly on track to become the nominee.

Any female pairing would double down on the historic nature of Clinton’s candidacy, and Warren adds the obvious benefit of providing a bridge to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who are wary of Clinton’s ties to Wall Street.

Though the idea of a two-woman ticket seems far-fetched to many, the conventional wisdom has been upended multiple times so far in 2016. Washington insiders more typically focus on an exclusively male-centric VP list that includes names like Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

Attention is turning to Clinton’s deliberations over a running mate after her overwhelming victory in New York on Tuesday made it all but certain that she’ll clinch the nomination. Sanders would have to win 73 percent of the delegates in remaining primary states to overtake her lead, according to a tally by the Associated Press. Then he’d face the uphill task of persuading the superdelegates — the party leaders who vote in the nomination contest and are overwhelmingly backing Clinton — to support him instead.

That makes the Democratic veepstakes question more pressing and perhaps the second most interesting Washington parlor game after the drama over who the Republicans will place at the top of their ticket.

Lacey Rose, a spokeswoman for Warren, declined to comment for this story.

Podesta didn’t offer names on Clinton’s list of possible women running mates, but after Clinton herself, Warren is one of the few Democratic women with national name recognition and a big following among progressives, a voting bloc Sanders has energized. Having Warren on the ticket could help Clinton stitch the party back together after a divisive primary.

Warren is a prodigious online fund-raiser who could help Clinton attract the tens of millions of grass-roots donations that have filled Sanders’ treasury. She raised $45 million for her 2012 Senate race, with 47 percent of the funds coming from small donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending.

Warren has been wading more deeply into 2016 presidential politics in recent weeks. On Tuesday she unleashed a 12-part tweetstorm aimed at Texas Senator Ted Cruz that some perceived as an audition for the attack-dog role that traditionally falls to vice presidential nominees.

In it, she accused Cruz of whining about the sacrifices that a president would need to make. “We’re supposed to pity you because trying to be the leader of the free world is hard?!” Warren wrote. “2 words: Boo hoo.”

She’s also trained fire at Republican front-runner Donald Trump, typing a Facebook post that called him “a bigger, uglier threat every day that goes by.” (He replied by mocking the flap over her claims to Native American ancestry, and referring to her as “the Indian.”)

There are multiple hurdles for Warren, first among them: It’s not at all clear that she even supports Clinton. She’s assiduously hugged the sidelines of the Democratic race even after repeatedly saying she would endorse a candidate and has sparred with Clinton in the past over her corporate ties.

And as with any senator whom Clinton might consider, there’s the balance of the chamber to consider.

Democrats are fighting hard to pick up the net gain of five seats they need to be in the majority.

That could pose a short-term problem in Massachusetts, where Republican Governor Charlie Baker would almost certainly appoint a member of his own party to fill Warren’s seat. Massachusetts law stipulates that a special election must be called between 145 and 160 days after a vacancy occurs — so the blue Massachusetts Democrats would have another crack at the seat.

Warren’s supporters questioned whether she’d want the post. In interviews with about a dozen people who attended a Sanders event in Queens Monday night, nearly all said they would be disappointed in Warren if she endorsed Clinton, let alone got on the ticket with her. They found the whole concept unimaginable.

“I don’t think Elizabeth Warren would accept it,” said Ben Johnson, a 27-year-old from Atlanta who traveled to New York to attend the rally, an experience he compared to attending a rock concert. “I think she feels she’s more effective in the Senate.”

The fact that Clinton’s campaign is talking about running mates at this point in the race is perhaps the best sign yet that they are fairly confident that, notwithstanding whatever bumps may lie in the road ahead, the Clinton campaign is making the shift to General Election mode even as Sanders himself continues to insist that he is taking the first for the nomination all the way to the convention. You can also detect this shift in focus in the fact that Clinton’s speeches are increasingly directed at Donald Trump and Ted Cruz rather than Sanders, while her campaign surrogates begin to emphasize in their media appearances that Sanders needs to begin considering the future of his campaign in light of what is best for the Democratic Party and avoid rhetoric that could damage party unity and Clinton’s own chances against the eventual Republican nominee. There’s no indication as of yet that Sanders is listening to these calls, but at some point one assumes that someone close to Sanders will have the proverbial “come to Jesus” meeting with him and try to persuade him to see the light. In any case, the Clinton campaign is moving forward notwithstanding Bernie Sanders’ refusal to accept reality. This discussion about potential running mates is just one indication of that,

As for the Vice-Presidential short list, the way these things are traditionally done would seem to suggest that Clinton will likely follow one of two strategies in selecting a running mate. Under one strategy, the nominee uses the Vice-Presidential slot in an effort to unite disparate wings of the party, especially after a long and contentious primary battle. In Clinton’s case, that would mean to reach out to the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party in an effort to heal some of the bad blood created by the long campaign battle with Senator Sanders. As a preliminary matter, it seems unlikely that Clinton would select Bernie Sanders. For one thing, it doesn’t seem as though Sanders would accept the position, and that he’d prefer to stay in the Senate. Indeed, Sanders has already filed paperwork to run for re-election in Vermont. Additionally, the fact that Sanders is actually older than Clinton makes selecting him problematic since it raises questions about selecting someone who would both be able to take over in the even of tragedy and represent the future of the party. The age issue also argues against selecting Elizabeth Warren given the fact that she is only two years younger than Clinton herself. From the campaign’s point of view, it would seem to make sense to select someone younger, but the desire to mend fences with the progressive wing of the party may end up overwhelming age concerns, and in that case Senator Warren would at least seem to be someone that the campaign would consider as a potential running mate.

In addition to healing party wounds, Presidential nominees often attempt to use the selection of a running mate to fill in gaps in their own resume. In Clinton’s case, there are few such gaps, of course, but this is where the selection of someone younger who represents a specific demographic comes into play. In this regard, names that have been mentioned in the past include Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Casto, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, all of whom would arguably appeal to younger and ethnic voters, both of which are quite important to the Democratic Party in national elections. More conventional Vice-Presidential choices would include people such as a Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Minnesota Senator Al Franken, both of whom have been mentioned in recent discussions, although it seems as though Kaine would be a more likely choice than Franken given Virginia’s importance to the Electoral College battle.

Whichever way the choice goes, the fact that the campaign is talking openly about running mates is perhaps the best indication yet that they are reay to move beyond Bernie Sanders.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Moosebreath says:

    Missing from the list, though a potentially good choice to reach out to the Bernie wing would be Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Though I am not sure what Ohio’s rules are on selecting a replacement, and they would not want to hand that seat over to a Republican.

  2. EddieInCA says:

    Sherrod Brown – Ohio
    Julian Castro (although he might be too young)
    Mark Warner – Virginia
    John Hickenlooper – Colorado
    Mike Beebe – Arkansas
    Steve Breshar – Kentucky (might be too old)

    I’d be okay with any of these.

    Here’s one pulled out of my a**…. Howard Dean. He’s only 67, progressive, and strong on policy and would be a great pit bull.

  3. Jen says:

    @Moosebreath: I’ve long thought that too, but I’m pretty sure Ohio’s rules would have Kasich appoint his replacement, ending up with the same result as Massachusetts.

    Which all goes to show, Democrats need to start building a deeper bench at the state level, including governorships.

  4. @EddieInCA:

    I’m not so sure about Warner. He barely won re-election against a relatively unknown challenger in 2014 and that did much to diminish his perceived value as a running mate. From my conversations with Democrats in Virginia, Tim Kaine is now seen as the more likely selection from Virginia.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    I’ve always thought that Julian Castro or maybe Tim Kaine would be near the top of any vice-presidential ticket guesstimate lists.

    Kaine is 58, Castro is 41. Castro provides energy to the ticket, and Kaine is a center-oriented politician from an important swing state. Kaine probably does nothing to interest the Sanders’ people, however Castro would probably bring Hispanic voters, Sanders’ voters, and young voters into play. Unless Castro has skeletons (tenure at HUD) I think his selection would be very interesting. Also, Castro would not have to give up a congressional seat to do this.

  6. Jen says:

    @al-Ameda: I think Julian’s twin, Joaquin, is the one in Congress.

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    Sorry for the thread jacking, but I thought you should be aware that on my computer this sight is giving a pop-under add (or whatever its called when an add appears in a wholly new tab) for a mock Adobe Flash site, and an automatic download starts for malware.

    Since this is pretty invasive, I thought you might want to know.

  8. EddieInCA says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    My problem with Kaine, is that while I can easily imagine him as a VP, I have a hard time imagining him in the big chair. Whereas I easily see Warner as president. But I say that as someone looking at it from 3000 miles away in California, as opposed to your front row seat.

  9. Pch101 says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The problem may be with your computer. You should probably run some anti-malware software, such as the free versions of Malwarebytes and Avira.

    You can download these from

  10. al-Ameda says:


    @al-Ameda: I think Julian’s twin, Joaquin, is the one in Congress.

    Thank you, I didn’t know that.

  11. Tyrell says:

    It should be someone who has military and business experience, and a middle of the road pragmatist, in the category of Hubert Humphrey or Carter.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:


    Why would the centrist former Secretary of State need a centrist military person on the ticket? That makes no sense whatsoever. Your VP choice should balance your weaknesses, not copy your greatest strengths.

  13. @Neil Hudelson:

    One of the ads must be misbehaving, I’ll see what can be done

  14. Tylerh says:

    Elizabeth Warren would obviously be a great way to bring Sander’s supporters on board, but I don’t see Warren adding much where it matters. Hillary is already going to win big in New York, Massachusetts, and California.

    Looking at the current polls, Hillary doesn’t need to pick the VP to lock down some key state, like JFK did in picking LBJ, or Al Gore did in picking Joe Lieberman.

    Rather, Hillary wants to develop “coat tails” so she faces a less-hostile Congress. That means picking a VP that will tilt key senate races. ( Also, putting Warren’s Senate seat in play doesn’t seem like a good idea.)

    Democrats are likely to pickup the Illinois and Wisconsin senate seats, and are aiming for the Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania Senate seats.

    Who best to help with that? Julian Castro and perhaps Tom Perez have obvious appeal in Florida and Nevada. A Joe Biden clone would probably help in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and possibly Florida. Sherrod Brown would be the obvious choice, but for Kasich appointing his replacement. Hickenlooper? Brashear?

  15. edmondo says:

    The bidding is open. Do I hear a half-million? Going once. Going twice….

    One million dollars bid for a four year stay at the Navel Observatory. Do I hear two million?

    Ahhhh, the Clinton years. Everything has a price.

  16. Tony W says:


    A Joe Biden clone would probably help

    Or maybe Mr. Biden himself!

  17. pylon says:

    Cool choices:

    Barack Obama (but he’d never do it).

    Jimmy Carter (but too old and just recovering from illness).

  18. PJ says:

    I prefer to think about the future.
    So, I’d want a VP who isn’t too old. Julian Castro will be 49 in 2024. 🙂

  19. Scott F. says:

    Clinton wants “the best person to make the case to the American people,” her campaign chairman, John Podesta, told the Globe.

    By this criteria, I think Al Franken would be a great choice. And, he’d bring the progressive bona fides as well.

  20. Christopher Osborne says:

    Jay Nixon, governor, swing state.

  21. Davebo says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Are you using Chrome?

  22. stonetools says:

    We Democrats need ALL our Senators, which is why for me all the senatorial picks are non -starters. Hillary understand this,and I expect she won’t pick a Senator. I like what I’ve heard of Tom Perez,but apart from the political experts, no one has ever heard of him. Elizabeth Warren has heard of him, though, and really likes him for VP. Hillary will get her support anyway, but this might be a way to get Warren truly excited about the ticket, and where Warren goes, the Democratic Party left is sure to follow.

    He’s spent years working at the Justice Department on voting rights, civil rights and police misconduct, right in the center of issues that have exploded among African-Americans and progressive Democrats. He’s adored in the White House, where he’s been a main player in crafting the Obama second-term domestic agenda, and he’s got a knack for a fiery stump speech. Also, he’s Dominican. And unlike Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, the other Latino Cabinet secretary and more frequent subject of VP speculation (to whom nearly every conversation about Perez becomes at least an implicit comparison), Perez speaks fluent Spanish.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

    He sounds like a winner to me.
    Now he’s never been elected to a major political office, but he does have substantial White House experience, and I think he can definitely handle VP duties. There will have to be a vetting process, but if he gets through that, then I like him for the spot.

  23. Kylopod says:

    but at some point one assumes that someone close to Sanders will have the proverbial “come to Jesus” meeting with him and try to persuade him to see the light.

    No doubt Sanders has exactly the sort of background to appreciate that meeting. 😉

  24. edmondo says:

    Presidential nominees often attempt to use the selection of a running mate to fill in gaps in their own resume.

    So she will pick someone who is honest and ethical?

  25. Gustopher says:

    The last VP to become President was Poppy Bush. Gore tried, but couldn’t get out from under Clinton’s shadow (among other things).

    So, rather than setting up a successor, how about someone seasoned and qualified, who can do a lot of work and would make a fine caretaker President if something happened to Clinton. One name leaps to mind: Joe Biden.

  26. Neil Hudelson says:


    It was on my work computer, on which I use both. Unfortunately I do not remember. There’s a good chance it was chrome though. While of course I can’t completely rule out a program on my computer causing this, my company’s IT is insanely tight on installing new programs. Outside of windows’ automatic updates, there’s been no new programs on my computer in 2 months.

  27. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Christopher Osborne:

    After how he managed Ferguson?

  28. john430 says:

    Dunno what all the fuss is about Hillary’s running mate because she won’t be in the game after she’s indicted.

  29. Christopher Osborne says:

    @Neil Hudelson: you’re right, probably too toxic considering BLM etc. I’m pretty sure the Senator Sanders’ supporters would not like him either.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    Dunno what all the fuss is about Hillary’s running mate because she won’t be in the game after she’s indicted.

    Indicted by whom? Donald Duck? Harvey Dent, perhaps…

  31. Tony W says:


    Dunno what all the fuss is about Hillary’s running mate because she won’t be in the game after she’s indicted.

    Even if this were a rational comment – I’d think you’d be supremely interested in her running mate, after all he/she would then ascend to the presidency if somehow that indictment turned into a conviction for which she somehow couldn’t pardon herself.

    Or maybe you are counting on some sort of October-surprise indictment that puts one of the Republican lunatics in the White House? Is that the fantasy?

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @john430: Indictment, heart attack, or Trump being a bigger liar than even I think he is are all the hope you have left, so I guess we should let you have it.

  33. Kylopod says:

    What I always find fascinating about folks like John here is their hard-nosed certainty about their predictions. He doesn’t just think Hillary is a criminal, and he doesn’t just think indictment is a possibility she just might manage to escape justice from, just as she supposedly did for the numerous other “scandals” that have followed her decades-long career. No, he thinks indictment this year is absolutely inevitable–a matter of when, not if.

    The funny thing is how unlikely this scenario should seem to anyone who bothers to give it the slightest thought. If criminal indictment were such an inescapable outcome, you’d wonder why the Democratic establishment would have been so self-destructive as to have rallied around her in the first place. And if John’s answer is, “the Democratic establishment is just as hopelessly corrupt as she is,” my response is, yeah, sure, but one thing it isn’t is suicidal; otherwise you’d have Democratic politicians constantly being thrown in jail, and if so, it’s a wonder the party has survived this long. And also, I’d wager a hard bet that John believes Hillary was guilty in Whitewater and Vince Foster’s death and a buttload of other stuff that she apparently got away with up to now–so why should any of the current stuff inevitably become the final nail in her coffin?

    The political establishment may be corrupt, but it isn’t stupid. They have some sense of self-preservation. Politicos who are interested in winning are usually extra-cautious about anything that might take their favored candidates down. (That’s one of the reasons, it’s been reported, Mitt Romney didn’t want Chris Christie for veep. He felt he seemed shady. And this was more than a year before Bridgegate, a scandal for which Christie has yet to be indicted.) Politicians do sometimes face criminal charges, and political careers do sometimes get destroyed by scandals. But these moments aren’t remotely ubiquitous enough to conclude that the political establishments of either party are as inept at avoiding these events as would have to be the case if the skeletons in Hillary’s closet were as blatant and obvious as John believes.

    It’s important to realize that John is not simply a troll. I have encountered hoards of people with this mindset, both online and off. These are the sorts of people who were reading right-wing sites in 2008 telling them Obama would never be elected president and in 2012 that he’d never be reelected. You’d think after a while they’d begin to wonder about the accuracy and reliability of their information sources, but no…they just keep going and going and going, like the Energizer bunny with a tinfoil hat.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: After some years of observation, I have come to realize many conservatives judge true/false mostly on what they wish to be true. Conservatives tend to view the world through a lens of morality, George Lakoff’s simple causation as opposed to complex causation. True means true to their conservative faith. That faith holds that Hillary will be indicted. And when that doesn’t happen, she’ll be indicted next year, or impeached. Or the next year…

  35. steve s says:

    Indicted by whom? Donald Duck? Harvey Dent, perhaps…

    I’ve got a right-wing low-info relative who fell for all the talk-radio alex jones ‘bill clinton is going to declare martial law and throw away the constitution’ nonsense in the 1990s. He’s not quite bright enough to understand that doubling down on something wrong just makes you more wrong, so he insists, to this day, that it will happen, it’s just taking longer than he thought.

    Similarly, there will be people in 5, 10, 20 years who are sure Hillary’s juuuuuuuuuuuuuust about to go to prison, any day now….

  36. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Neil Hudelson: No, you don’t understand. She’s a Clinton (cue scary sounding music), so she’s not moderate at all, she’s a Communist who hates America (cue music again) and wants to destroy it.

  37. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Kylopod: It’s the tinfoil hat that makes all the difference. Blocks out all of the cosmic rays that could distort their thinking.

  38. Kari Q says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    No, you don’t understand. She’s a Clinton Democrat (cue scary sounding music), so she’s not moderate at all, she’s a Communist who hates America (cue music again) and wants to destroy it.

  39. Scott says:

    @stonetools: I heard Tom Perez on a number of interview shows, e.g., Axelrods Axe Files. He has a calm clear manner of conversation that reminds me of Warren. Great communications skills.

  40. Thomas Weaver says:

    Hmmm, a running mate for Hildabeast – I’ve got it, one that wins approval even from some in the GOP: Tada, how about Mitt Romney? Fits right in and for sure would get Trump’s approval.

  41. al-Ameda says:

    @Thomas Weaver:

    Hmmm, a running mate for Hildabeast – I’ve got it, one that wins approval even from some in the GOP: Tada, how about Mitt Romney? Fits right in and for sure would get Trump’s approval.

    Plus, Hillary can tie Mitt to the top of her Range Rover and drive to Canada to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

  42. Stonetools says:

    Here’s a candidate that may have vaulted himself onto the short list:

    Terry Mcauliffe, governor of VA.
    Among other things, he has long been a close friend of the Clintons. Also too he can’t run for VA governor again.

  43. An Interested Party says:

    Hmmm, a running mate for Hildabeast…

    Ahh, the misogyny…hopefully the Trump campaign will follow this lead…

  44. grumpy realist says:

    I think Elizabeth Warren is having too much fun being an attack dog on the Financial Committees and tearing strips off banksters to want to run as VP. She also realizes that she has the background and the clout to do it extremely effectively. (Scapelling banksters to death, that is.)

  45. Jen says:

    @Stonetools: I think that pairing would be a mistake. While he is Gov. of a swing state and can’t run again, his background as the former chair of the DNC and having run Bill Clinton’s campaign would make his selection look too chummy at best: it’s like a tailor-made script to follow the “the establishment rules everything!” book.

  46. Tyrell says:

    @grumpy realist: I am againsr some of the abuses by the large banks, such as the usurious credit card interest rates. But too many regulations is not good either and can effect the small banks. The bank in our town knows most people on a first name basi I remember a time when people would walk in there and get a loan with only a handshake or signature. The people who work at the small town banks are telling of new regulations that limit a lot of the things they used to do to help people. They say it could possibly cause them to go out of business. Senator Warren needs to watch out for over regulation and too many rules.
    It would be a shame to lose our town bank.