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Clinton team looking for a VP who will be fighter, excite Sanders supporters

USA TODAY ~ Hillary Clinton is considering a running mate who could make a direct appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders, bridging a generational and political divide, according to four people close to the campaign.

Clinton’s chief requirements include a candidate’s resume and a fighter capable of hand-to-hand combat with Trump. The campaign’s vetting also prioritizes demographics over someone from a key swing state as she seeks to unify the Democratic voting base, said the individuals coordinating with the campaign, who were not authorized to speak on the record about early deliberations.

The Vermont senator shows no signs of easing off before the July convention, and Democrats worry he’ll make only measured contributions in helping her court his voters between August and November.

The Clinton campaign declined to comment on the story.

One obvious candidate who would fit the Sanders anti-Wall Street populist profile is Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who’s been in a Twitter war with Republican Donald Trump. Her tweetstorm during the past week shows she’s capable of being the kind of scrappy surrogate Clinton needs to take him on.

But Warren has also been critical of Clinton, including in a book; and the two have not been close. Yet in the past candidates have moved past similar tensions. George H.W. Bush called Ronald Reagan’s economic plan “voodoo economics.” They were White House partners for eight years.

f Warren is not the pick, the hope is to choose someone who would both appeal to a younger demographic of the party that is identifying as independent and to the left of Clinton.

“We’re no longer playing the Bill Clinton-era win-the-middle, win-the-Reagan-Democrats presidential election politics,” said Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist who worked in Bill Clinton’s administration. “People have gone to their corners, and you’re wearing a red jersey or a blue jersey. The question is, can you get enough blue jerseys to show up? That’s your first test.”

“I don’t think she’s going to pick anybody who isn’t progressive,” said Bob Shrum, who has served as a senior aide to Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry.

Many names are being floated.

The ranks of Democratic governors have been depleted after Republican gains in recent election cycles. That means the list of potential running mates from the congressional ranks includes names in addition to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and anti-trade firebrand Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Kaine, a popular figure in Clinton’s orbit who speaks fluent Spanish, would play more to moderates in swing states.

Others who may be interested include:

— Rep. Xavier Becerra, the highest-ranking Latino in Congress and House Democratic Caucus Chairman, campaigned for Clinton in a dozen states and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

— Sen. Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, billed himself during his campaign as a “fresh, progressive voice.”

— Labor Secretary Tom Perez is popular with labor unions and spent years working on voting and civil rights issues.

The populist calculus could change if Sanders agrees to aggressively campaign for Clinton the way she did for then-senator Barack Obama in 2008. “It’s why you see the absolute hands-off respect to what Bernie has accomplished,” said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. “At the point in time that she is nominated, which I believe she will be, this will really turn on Bernie and how Bernie handles it.”

Some progressives would also offset a weakness of Clinton — who will be 69 by Election Day — that she can’t compensate for with her résumé: her age. Murphy is 42 and Becerra is 58. As for ideological balance, Becerra, voted against both the Iraq War and the Defense of Marriage Act, which Clinton supported at the time and which persist as sore points with the party’s progressive wing. Becerra’s potential status as the first major-party Hispanic nominee could also be a boon, though with Trump as the GOP nominee, the campaign is counting n a strong Latino turnout regardless.

Other names, including Brown, are problematic since their seats would be replaced by Republican governors. New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich is a rising Senate star who has expertise on labor and environmental issues, though he presents the same succession dilemma as Brown. That’s something incoming Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer could quash as he seeks to win back control of the chamber.

The biggest divide in the Democratic Party is along generational lines. A significant number of Sanders’ supporters will have voted against Clinton during primaries in 2008 and 20016. “They’re not Democrats, these kids,” said Howard Dean, a 2004 Democratic primary candidate and a Clinton surrogate. “They’re independents and they could vote Republican eventually if we don’t do something to get them into our party,” he said.

A Warren pick would leave unattended a gaping gender gap between her and Trump. But according to one source close to the campaign, officials believe she can build a winning coalition by rallying blacks, Hispanics, older women — who already support her — along with younger women, whom Warren could bring into the fold. The source was not permitted to speak on the record about strategy.

Mitch Stewart, who oversaw President Obama’s battleground states operation in 2012 and was his 2008 Virginia state director, said geographical concerns are increasingly irrelevant for all candidates. The 2008 campaign conducted sample polls on Kaine and Mark Warner (who was then a former governor elected to a U.S. Senate seat that year) as potential vice presidential picks, and “the impact (in Virginia) was minimal,” he said.

by Heidi M Przybyla, USA TODAY, May 15, 2016

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