With the 2016 campaign season rapidly approaching, surprise surprise, we're all still waiting for a bonafide Democratic contender to jump into the fray. It's early, sure, but at the same time, who can resist a little glance ahead? Well, for the time being, that anticipatory sense of things is somewhat hung up on the schedule of one Hillary Rodham Clinton, who it's now reported likely won't announce her candidacy until spring. But that doesn't mean we can't look forward now and then — who would be Hillary Clinton's running mate if she won the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination?
Luckily (or unluckily, if she or her team are prone to indecision), there are plenty of compelling, intriguing options to consider, even at this early date. They'll have plenty of time to mull things over, one way or another — if Hillary indeed secures the nomination, she'll have well over a year to pick out a running mate, in advance of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The exact date and city for the general election DNC haven't been determined just yet, but the field has been narrowed to three candidates — it will either be Philadelphia, Columbus, or Brooklyn that will get to see both halves of the Democratic ticket take the stage.
So, assuming Hillary makes the cut, who should she bring along for the ride? Here are some choices that'd be exciting to see, for one reason or another.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
There are all different kinds of philosophies about picking a vice presidential candidate. And often, some of the biggest choices seem to boil down to this: strengthen your strengths, or diversify your image. Hillary's husband Bill, for example, tabbed Al Gore for the bottom of his ticket, yet another Democratic rising star out of the American South — adding little appeal that Bill didn't have already, but strengthening that brand. President Obama, on the other hand, went with a white, working-class scion of the Senate in Joe Biden, aiming to tamp down concerns about his relative inexperience. Senator John McCain, of course, disastrously countered with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, about as wide a gap as it gets.
Similarly, the Hillary could multiply that "Senator from New York" vibe by picking Kirsten Gillibrand to run alongside her. Gillibrand has carved out a successful career since being appointed to her Senate seat in 2009, taking over for Hillary after she accepted President Obama's nomination for Secretary of State. Basically, she's a potent and polished political brand, and she'd be a great compliment on any presidential ticket, Hillary's in particular.
California Governor Jerry Brown
If you're looking for a Democratic governor with high approval ratings and a litany of unlikely, impressive accolades over the last several years, there's one name that really shines out from all the rest — Jerry Brown, who made good on his improbable first-term pledge to turn around California's dire fiscal situation. He did so in a pretty unlikely way, too, asking California voters to raise taxes on themselves. And, lo and behold, it worked, despite being an approach that would make a lot of Democratic strategists' blood run cold. Furthermore, you could hardly find a backup more experienced and ready to govern at a moment's notice than Brown, who's been elected governor four times across a span of forty years.
Of course, no match is ever made in heaven. Brown was the first runner-up in the 1992 Democratic primaries, clashing aggressively (and at times personally) with the Clintons. Furthermore, he's a little long in the tooth, and would be 78 on election day. For somebody of his skill, accomplishment, and relative good health, however, that shouldn't hold him back. The only question is whether he'd want to play second-fiddle at this point in his career — a very fair concern.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
There's something to be said for tabbing a vice president who'd have a legitimate shot to win a presidential election of their own someday. On drive, charisma and content of character alone, Cory Booker certainly fits the bill, to say nothing of his youth — even if he served two terms as vice president, he'd be just 55 years old in 2024. His success story as underdog candidate to mayor of Newark to United States senator is well known to nationally-aware Democrats, and his selection would inject some undeniable enthusiasm into the campaign. After all, this is somebody who's just as at ease unapologetically championing progressive politics as he is making shoddy Seinfeld parodies with Republican Governor Chris Christie.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
This, frankly, would likely be considered the "Dream Team" ticket, much as it was when Democrats hoped then-Senator Barack Obama would pick his freshly defeated rival Hillary to run alongside him. While Warren has resisted calls for her to enter the race, and maintains she won't, she's nonetheless seen as one of the biggest potential stumbling blocks between Hillary and the nomination, boasting progressive bonafides (especially on economics and financial reform) that make her a favorite of the Democratic left.
And the Democratic left is something Clinton has to be aware of — especially in regards to foreign policy, she's much further to the middle than we often give her credit for. A Clinton/Warren ticket, simply put, would unite the two people that the Democratic Party would most like to see make waves in 2016, and it'd be a blast to see play out.
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