The current presidential race sits in that nebulous twilight where both presumptive nominees are all sewn up before the Republican and Democratic conventions. On one side, Donald Trump is still embarrassing the hell out of his party. His teleprompter-aided speeches seem like a half-hearted stab at achieving a more measured tone to repair a fractured party, though he still manages to offend and frighten as much as with his off-the-cuff speeches. Likewise, the Democrats are currently divided between Hillary Clinton’s #ImWithHer crowd and Bernie Sanders’ supporters, who sit further to the left. She probably needs to find a vice-presidential candidate that will bring Bernie fans into the fold, but Clinton also needs to find someone who could possibly hold their own against Trump.
Such a candidate will ideally hold views that compliment Clinton’s stances and also attracts disenfranchised Sanders fans, while also adequately distracting voters from Clinton’s ongoing controversies. Her long political career has plenty of baggage, so her VP shouldn’t be a source of closet skeletons to compound the negatives. Most importantly, they must be both charismatic and tough-skinned enough to ward off certain Trump attacks. Who qualifies? We put together a list, so let’s explore.
Although he’s nearly served two terms in the White House, Biden would be a majestic choice for a VP slot. Yes, this seems silly. Out with the old, in with the new and whatnot. But Biden is a beloved figure and one who is very much aligned with women’s issues. He’s stored up so much goodwill that folks grow genuinely excited when he pops up in unexpected places, and what would be more of a surprise than to see him stick around for another VP term or two? Biden chose not to run for president while struggling to cope with his son’s death, and Democrats understood but felt disappointed. He would be nothing but an asset to the Clinton campaign.
On the surface, such a partnership would make tons of sense in terms of Democratic unity. Sanders’ superfans could gleefully keep their unrealistic dreams alive, and perhaps his presence in the White House — albeit as a runner up — would continue to shift the party to the left. Together, Clinton and the Bern could very well beat the stuffing out of Donald Trump and win a general election. Yet the honeymoon wouldn’t last long. Following their mutual victory, Sanders could be overheard grumbling “Wall Street” under his breath every time Clinton leaves the room. Such brewing resentment would make for one hell of a toxic partnership. Sorry, Sanders fans. This is not happening anyway.
The Texas congressman would help Clinton sway a large state and be a safe choice. He’d certainly be a boon to any candidate who opposes Trump, who has alienated the hell out of Latino voters. However, Trump’s anti-Hispanic rhetoric and ridiculous wall-building dreams have almost guaranteed that Clinton will score the Latino vote no matter who she picks as VP. In addition, Castro’s platforms aren’t any more progressive than Clinton’s, so he wouldn’t necessarily add a reason for far-left Democratic voters to join the the ticket. However, it’s highly likely that Sanders voters will give up the “Bernie or Bust” claim when truly confronted with the possibility of President Trump. So, a far-left candidate isn’t necessary for Clinton’s purposes, but Castro doesn’t possess enough pizazz to out-dazzle Trump.
The very progressive New Jersey senator (and gun control filibuster star) could easily win over Sanders supporters to Clinton’s side. He’s a little too enthusiastic at times and could rub folks the wrong way, but he’s a big fan of killing ’em with kindness, which Clinton doesn’t have the luxury of doing in this campaign. After all, she’s busy fending off brutal Trump attacks while also proving she’s “tough” enough to lead the country. So, Booker could add a spark of enduring positivity and idealism to the ticket. He could also nab some New Jersey voters who may otherwise follow Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump.
A two-woman ticket would be a dream come true for feminists, who love the Attorney General of California. She’s staunchly pro choice and holds strong ties to Planned Parenthood (in fact, she’s received plenty of campaign money from them, which complicates matters). Harris could command votes in a huge state, and she’s charismatic, which are both huge bonuses. She’s primed for mainstream appeal with a tough yet approachable nature. One complicating factor, however, is that Harris recently won the Democratic primary for a 2016 Senate run. So, she’s otherwise occupied and not the candidate to join the first all-female presidential ticket. Don’t worry, there’s another one who’s plenty eager to fill the spot.
The New York governor was prepared to run for President if Clinton hadn’t made her repeat bid. He would be an enormous asset in what will truly be a battleground state between Trump and Clinton in the general election. He’s also a huge proponent of the $15 per hour minimum wage, which Sanders fans would love. Otherwise, his moderate ways could be an asset to sway some Republicans who are embarrassed to see Trump as their nominee. With all of those delegates up for grabs in New York, Clinton would be a fool to not strongly consider inviting Cuomo along for the ride.
The Virginia governor is already a long-standing Clinton ally. As the former DNC chairman, he was instrumental in helping structure this election season’s debate schedule on Clinton’s behalf and (presumably) in her favor. They gel on many issues, but perhaps McAuliffe actually has too much in common with Clinton. Like her, he’s under federal investigation (for campaign finance reasons) and the Democrats certainly don’t need two such scandals hanging over their heads. Trump would have such a field day with this joint ticket, for Clinton has plenty of baggage, and McAuliffe would only further drag her down.
The current Secretary of Labor would be a great asset to help Clinton snag a few blue-collar votes away from Trump. He’s a huge hit with union workers who could be turned off by Clinton’s propensity to earn millions from speeches to corporate America. He’s also another candidate that would sway some progressive liberals to his side along with union members, Latinos, and those who’d like to see a continuation of Obama administration policies. He’s not flashy and doesn’t have much political experience, but Perez would still be a solid pick.
Warren’s clearly gunning for a VP spot and is almost rabid in her attacks against Donald Trump while acting as a Clinton surrogate. Warren is completely unafraid to go toe to toe with him, and she’s also willing to add her support when Clinton hits back at Trump too. Together, they could be a force on the campaign trail, and Warren appeared to be openly declaring her willingness to join the ticket while making her endorsement. Her progressive ways would compliment Clinton’s platform, and there’s clearly a lot of respect on both sides. This team stands a good chance of happening unless Clinton goes with a sleeper candidate.
Speaking of dark horses, the Minnesota senator has solidly supported Clinton in a much more subtle way than Warren. He’s also quite hilarious while doing so. He’s likeable, sharp witted, and — as an old-school SNL writer — as funny as they come. And Trump’s presence in this race makes the inclusion of Franken possible. He’s got his own history of unsavory jokes (which are mostly decades old) that don’t quite approach Trump’s rhetoric in terms of offensiveness. Some would consider Franken’s history to be baggage, but compared to Trump, he’s downright tame. But can’t you see him tossing out zingers against Trump and frustrating the hell out of the real estate mogul? As a master of satire, Franken could dig under Trump’s skin in a serious way. He’s also got celebrity on his side, which could rival that of Trump. This is the most bizarre election in recent history, and Clinton would greatly benefit by choosing a VP who would make a splash. Franken could be that candidate.