Mid-term congressional elections are coming up this November, so many will say that talking about who Hillary Clinton will have as her running mate over two years away is premature. No one knows for certain who will be in the House or Senate next year, let alone whether or not Clinton will actually seek the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Talking about such matters so far out is surely tempting fate. But at this stage it’s simply unimaginable for another person to step forward to try to seriously claim that nomination, and even Democratic Leadership and elected officials are lining up to endorse the former First Lady as their presidential nominee. She will be in the running to be Obama’s successor in the Oval Office, barring an apocalypse, so naturally we should be thinking about who she will run as her Vice Presidential nominee – it could help her secure the presidency after all.
Before looking at who she might choose as a running mate, though, it’s important to look at Clinton herself. Many presidential candidates have historically chosen their other half on the ticket based on geographical or electoral college reasons; a liberal northern Democrat naturally needs a more conservative one from The South to balance the ticket and make it more appealing those the Independents and Undecideds in an area where northern liberals tend not to do so well. Another reason is more political – a freshman or younger candidate would need a more experienced politician to help stave off claims that administration would act in a manner that is naive or innocent. Similarly, a candidate who has no experience on the Hill, i.e. coming from a State House, would require a seasoned Senator on the ticket. A good example of this is actually the current administration – Barack Obama, arguably a freshman when running for office, chose Joe Biden, one of the longest-serving Senators and an expert in the sphere of foreign policy to be his running mate; it was claimed that an Obama Administration would otherwise be weak on foreign policy and would have a gaping lack of experience.
When it comes to Clinton, she’s very lucky in that she already has an extensive amount of experience in many fields. A former Secretary of State, no one would be in a position to deny that she has foreign policy experience. A former Senator, she has contacts on the Hill and is aware of how things work in the murky and often unnavigable maze that is Congress. A former First Lady, of both Arkansas and the United States, Hillary Clinton also has experience of how an Executive is ran, as well as what exactly the work of President of the United States would entail. Her experience in running the Clinton Global Initiative also helps, as does having a spouse who used to occupy the Oval Office. And, of course, I would be remiss to mention that being a female nominee of one the major parties will also help, though perhaps only in areas already leaning Democratic. Clinton’s experience, and well-documented, tenure on the Senate Armed Services Committee will also help when it comes to military knowledge and matters, her not having served in the forces previously.
My perspective on the situation is that Clinton will need a man, preferably from The South, and definitely with some budgetary, economic, or financial experience. I don’t doubt Clinton’s credentials myself, but the voting public in the United States might, and Clinton doesn’t really have hands-on experience when it comes to these matters, apart from a very brief stint on the Senate Budget Committee. Clinton only served a year on this committee, and while I’m sure it was successful, I don’t think it’s enough to convince those who need to be convinced that Clinton is prepared to deal with the economy. Especially when she last served on it in 2002, and by the 2016 election comes around, that’ll have been 14 years. A bit of a break.
So who might she pick? While it’s entirely possible she’ll bring in someone who hasn’t held public office, I find this to be highly unlikely. Vice Presidential nominees should be seen as a safe, trusted pair of hands – if anything happens to the President, you’d be happy with this guy in charge. One need only look at McCain-Palin in 2008 to see what a bad VP candidate does to a campaign. My bet is that it’ll be someone from either the House of Representatives or the Senate – probably the latter as there’s not that many high-profile House Democrats with the GOP running the show there these past few years. So really we’re looking at male Senators with financial experience. Luckily there’s a heap of those.
Failing any massive political controversies, or a massive shift in public mood and social agendas, I personally would put money on Clinton picking Senator Mark Warner. There’s a variety of reasons for this. Firstly, he’s from Virginia, and a former popular Governor of there too. Virginia is likely going to be a swing state in 2016. Having Warner on the ticket could help secure its 13 electoral votes. Well, could do more than help, it’ll all but secure it. The being a former Governor of an important State is a second reason; while Clinton doesn’t actually need anyone with Executive experience to balance the ticket, more experience certainly isn’t a failing, and could actually help Independents and Undecideds who feel Bill Clinton would be an unsuitable influence. His and Warner’s style of governing can be considered markedly different.
A third, and most important reason, is Warner’s experience when it comes to Clinton’s aforementioned policy weakness – economics and finance. Warner has served on the Budget, Banking, and Commerce committees in the Senate, so he definitely is more than experienced when it comes to that stuff. This would definitely help those concerned about Clinton’s removal from economic matters since joining the Obama Administration in ’09. Warner is also an incredibly successful businessman, and one of the richest Senators on the Hill. While I’d personally play down the rich bit, many Americans would look up to Warner’s business success and see that as a big plus – look at how well Romney played it in 2012.
Warner has also been touted in the past as being very suited to a presidential or vice presidential run and, while he’s turned them down in the past to concentrate on Senate life, I think he’d be very well placed in 2016 to take on the challenge.
There are some roadblocks which could mean he won’t be picked. First elected to the Senate in 2008, he never actually served with Clinton there, so he wouldn’t have an already established working relationship with her. He is actively involved with the Ready for Hillary campaign already though, so this could be read as that he obviously supports her and is more than amicable. Claims that he’d be too freshman, however, would be unfounded; every poll in Virginia has him winning re-election, so he’d be going into 2016 with two Senate elections under his belt. But therein lies the rub, he’d also he leaving the Senate after 2 years into a second 6 year term. Putting aside how Warner himself would feel about it, it’s not known if the Democratic Party would be able to field another candidate to keep the Virginia Senate seat.
Picking Warner would also mean the Democratic Party would be forfeiting the chance to line up a “natural successor” to Clinton after she finished her term(s). Warner is only 7 years younger than Clinton. Presuming a Clinton-Warner ticket wins in 2016, they’d be 73 and 66 going into the 2020 election. Not exactly spring chickens. And presuming they win that, Warner would be 70 going into the 2024 election. Hardly successor material. But that’s definitely looking too far ahead.
Of course we won’t know for another two years who Clinton picks as her Vice Presidential nominee, or even if Clinton herself goes for the Presidency, and a lot can happen in two years. There are definitely other options she could choose – liberals go weak at the knees at the idea of a Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren ticket, for example – and her popularity and length of time on the national stage means that she definitely doesn’t need someone’s coattails to ride on when it comes to picking a running mate. Most people in the United States already have an opinion on Clinton, who she picks to be her running mate most likely won’t change their minds, but it’s interesting to theorise about it nonetheless.
Warner’s not a dead cert. But for me he’s the best, and most logical, choice. Clinton would do well with him. But ultimately, regardless of who she chooses, it’s likely she’ll get in office. I can’t see any Republican giving her a run for her money. Clinton has a sure shot at being the first female President of the United States and I sincerely hope she doesn’t screw it up by making bad choices in the campaign. I’m a big fan and I’ll support her in any election she runs in, but she has to make solid choices if she wants to win. Sen. Mark Warner would be a solid choice for Vice President. I hope she seriously considers him when it comes to it.