Why Tim Kaine leads the Dems’ VP shortlist

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jun 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-26 18:41:38-04

WASHINGTON — Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is getting the most buzz within Democratic circles as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton.

Before being elected senator in 2012, Kaine served as Governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, and Mayor of Richmond.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny says Kaine is leading the VP shortlist for good reason. Or reasons.

1) Why Tim Kaine leads the Dems’ VP shortlist

“He is from a red state, he now represents a purple state, but Spanish. When you watch him speak in Spanish, fluent Spanish, in Univision interviews, in CNN Espanol interviews, [it’s] so compelling here,” Zeleny explains. “Not that they necessarily need to fire up the Hispanic vote, but him being an attack dog in Espanol on Donald Trump would be so key. ”

2) But wait — might Iowa’s Vilsack be a sleeper VP candidate?

If not Tim, how about Tom? As in Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

He is a former Iowa governor and was a big help to Clinton in his home state this year back in January when the frontrunner needed to hold off Bernie Sanders in the kickoff caucus there.

He doesn’t get much buzz, but Jonathan Martin of The New York Times suggests Vilsack will get a place in the Clinton campaign search.

“This is a safe, stable pick. If she wants somebody who is not going to cause any controversy, somebody who is a sort of reliable person for campaigning and governing, he would be it. As one Democrat pointed out to me in this week in bringing up Vilsack, he also would have no impact at all on the Senate. If you think about her other options, almost all of them would have some impact on control of the Senate.”

3) Sanders’ leverage may be bern-ing out

Bernie Sanders acknowledges the math: Hillary Clinton is on track to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

But the Vermont senator isn’t done campaigning yet, continuing to push his positions as Democrats put together their platform and program for next month’s convention.

Yes, he has leverage because of his remarkable primary run. But Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press also raises the question of whether that leverage is waning.

“She’ll be campaigning with Elizabeth Warren, who’s really stepped back in to take control as a leader of that progressive movement, on Monday. I think Bernie Sanders’ traction in this race is declining quite rapidly, so it will be interesting to see if he strikes that deal soon.”

4) Battleground Colorado serves as campaign stage this week

Colorado is a swing state in presidential politics, and a key test of whether Donald Trump can compete in battlegrounds where Latinos are a critical voting bloc.

We will get a glimpse of the battle for Colorado this week when both Trump and Hillary Clinton visit the Denver area. CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson harkened back to 2012, when coal and energy issues were part of the GOP playbook while Democrats courted Latinos in the Denver suburbs.

“On the one hand, immigration reform: how Hillary Clinton frames her stance on immigration reform in this new Supreme Court decision, or non-decision, and how she frames Donald Trump’s stance on immigration reform. And then for Donald Trump, coal. If you think back to 2012, coal companies actually bussed in coal miners to Mitt Romney’s speeches. Since then, those coal companies have hit some rocky ground, some of them declared bankruptcy.”

5) Lewandowski gets the ‘Apprentice’ treatment, but is there a Trump reboot?

There was plenty of relief in GOP circles and within the Trump campaign itself following the big shakeup that led to the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski this past week.

GOP establishment figures were thrilled. They believe Lewandowski was in over his head and encouraged Trump’s worst instincts.

And Trump’s children were happy, especially Ivanka Trump, who was part of the effort to fire Lewandowski. She and her husband were among those who concluded Lewandowski was leaving key tasks undone and leading a toxic work environment.

Top campaign strategist Paul Manafort also was described as relieved. He had engaged in an almost daily — or maybe hourly — game of tug of war with Lewandowski for control of the campaign, and the candidate.

But to blame Lewandowski for all of the things that cause GOP jitters would be a mistake. And insiders say showing him the door didn’t immediately solve some of the Trump campaign’s organizational issues.

Yes, fundraising is ticking up, but is still behind where it needs to be.

And one source with intimate insights into the Trump campaign operation described things as “worse than they look” and that “basic ABCs don’t even get done … or discussed.”