Senator Tim Kaine may have helped Hillary Clinton secure thirteen electoral votes, but privately she blames her running mate for her 2016 loss to President Donald J. Trump, a former staffer for the campaign tells The Chronicle.
Clinton believes that Kaine was the wrong choice as a running mate. He had been selected because Clinton’s advisers were sure that he wouldn’t overshadow the top of the ticket. At the time, they feared that selecting a minority or an individual with too much charisma would make Clinton look boring by comparison.
“At a time when white men are loathed inside the Democratic Party, Hillary chose Tim. In hindsight she should not have selected a southerner… [she] should have selected someone of the Rust Belt constituency, like Sherrod Brown of Ohio,” the source explains.
“Hillary didn’t have good strategists,” he concedes. “She was very poorly served by the people around her and they completely took the Rust Belt for granted.”
Clinton had wanted badly to name an African American to the ticket, and serious discussions were had about nominating Governor Deval Patrick, but Massachusetts was already in the bag.
A faction of campaign advisers wanted Clinton to name another woman to the ticket. Nominating Senator Susan Collins would have allowed Clinton to project a narrative of bipartisanship and would have opened up a Senate seat in a Democrat-leaning state.
But Clinton’s advisers were young and found the entire notion of bipartisanship generally distasteful. They were more worried about exciting the progressive base following a difficult primary challenge in Bernie Sanders. Many of her campaign aides felt uncomfortable with the centrist brand that the Clintons had built in the 1990s and later in the Senate.
In the end, Clinton herself nixed the idea of naming a woman to the ticket as being ‘too precedent-setting’. Others felt that Clinton didn’t want to share the spotlight with another ‘first’, while Robbie Mook — who wielded enormous power over the Clinton brand — felt that Virginia was the middle ground, where the Democratic Party’s growth opportunity was most ripe.
In hindsight, they were appealing to the wrong base.