Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren in Cincinnati: A VP Audition?

Jun 26, 2016

Monday morning, at Cincinnati's Museum Center at Union Terminal, Hillary Clinton and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren will take the stage together for the first time in this election cycle.

Now that Clinton is clearly going to win the Democratic presidential nomination, the internet and the media in general have been burning with speculation about who will become Clinton's vice presidential running mate.

The consensus of the political pros and the political media is that there is a short list – and that Warren, the outspoken, liberal senator who has railed against Wall Street – is in the top three.

So, the political class around the country will be watching very closely what happens at the Museum Center Monday; and many of them will be looking at the joint appearance as Warren's audition for running mate.

Is that what this is about? Is this the political equivalent of taking a brand new car out for a test drive?

Possibly, but not necessarily.

Kyle Kondik, a political analyst from the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said that it is too early to say who Clinton might turn to for a running mate.

But he does agree with the consensus among political observers that the top three – "the short list" – are Warren, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virgnia, a former governor of that key swing state; and Julian Castro, who is now President Obama's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

"It seems one of those three is most likely, but ultimately, it's only Hillary Clinton and the people closest to her who really know,'' Kondik said.

Clinton and Warren "are politically not on the same page,'' Kondik said. "Elizabeth Warren is considerably more liberal than Hillary Clinton."

Then again, neither were Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush back in 1980; and they managed to get along just fine for the next eight years as president and vice president. 

The Wall Street types – who like Clinton a lot – "would really recoil at the idea of a Clinton-Warren ticket,'' Kondik said.

Warren has been a consistent critic of Wall Street and the financial industry.

Donald Mooney, a Cincinnati lawyer who has been a long-time Democratic Party activist, is supporting Clinton this fall, of course, but he was never a great fan of either Clinton or her rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Mooney's ambivalence about the pair was apparent in a facetious profile photo he put on his Facebook page – one that says Biden/Warren/2016.

"I suppose it's possible she could be the running mate, but it's hard for me to imagine the Clintons picking somebody as outspoken as Elizabeth Warren," Mooney told WVXU.

On his Facebook page, Mooney has been handicapping both the Democratic and GOP potential running mates, doing posts on the pros and cons of each.

Warren, Mooney wrote, "would bring all those recalcitrant Sanders voters, without the annoying finger-wagging." And, Mooney wrote, Warren "can actually explain complicated stuff to normal folk better than anyone, including Bill Clinton."

Castro would be a reasonable choice, Mooney said.

"But within a month, Trump will  have people convinced that Julian is the evil spawn of Fidel Castro,'' Mooney told WVXU, only half-jokingly.

The safe choice, Mooney said, would probably be Kaine – the senator from Virginia, the state's former governor and the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, serving in that job during the first two years of the Obama administration.

Kondik agreed, saying Kaine would be a "good, safe pick" who is popular in his home state of Virginia, which, like Ohio, is going to be one of the true battleground states of this presidential election.

Monday's joint appearance in Cincinnati, Kondik said, "could be an audition, but not necessarily.

"It just makes sense for her to campaign with Warren and have Warren as a surrogate during the rest of the campaign,'' Kondik said.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County "are really important for Hillary in this race,'' Kondik said. "She's probably not going to do well in southeast Ohio; neither did Barack Obama. So she needs a win in Hamilton County to offset that. There's no over-estimating the importance of Hamilton County in this race."

Maybe, Kondik said, Clinton is bringing Warren to Cincinnati "because she wants to see how they work together in public. Or maybe it's just a ruse to make people think Warren is the choice while something else is going on behind the scenes."

Barbara Myers, who chairs the Cincinnati Women's Political Caucus, an organization made up mostly of Democratic women, will be at the rally.

Myers says she doesn't think the fact that Warren is campaigning here with Clinton amounts to an audition for the vice presidential nomination.

"I don't want to read too much into it,'' Myers said. "If Hillary Clinton were to choose Elizabeth Warren – well, that would be fine with me.

"But Elizabeth Warren made it clear when she endorsed Hillary that she would do everything in her power to keep Trump out of the White House,'' Myers said. "That's what she's doing here."

From Clinton's perspective, Myers said, it is a smart move to campaign with a progressive Democrat like Warren, because Warren appeals to many of the same voters who supported Sanders in the battle for the Democratic nomination.

"Those are voters Hillary Clinton is going to need in November,'' Myers said.

Kondik agreed that Warren could help Clinton with Sanders supporters, many of whom are still not very happy with the political process that gave Clinton the nomination.

"Some of the Sanders people haven't come home yet,'' Kondik said. "If Bernie Sanders is not the running mate – and I don't think there is any chance of that – Warren is the one who would make the most sense to appeal to Bernie's people."

Whether she is chosen as Clinton's running mate or not, "Elizabeth Warren can be a big asset during the campaign as a surrogate, campaigning for her around the country."

Even if Warren does not become Clinton's running mate, Monday's rally is going to be something of a treat for local Democrats.

"For Cincinnati Democrats, it will be a great chance to see the two of them together,'' Mooney said. "It should be a good show."