5 people to watch in Hillary Clinton’s veepstakes

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As she nears a decision on her own running mate, Hillary Clinton and her campaign are watching Donald Trump’s search with astonishment.

It’s a moment that highlights the stark differences between how the two presumptive nominees make decisions, with Trump’s unfolding like a reality show and Clinton’s taking place almost entirely in secret before her expected announcement late next week.

In conversations with nearly two dozen people inside and close to Clinton’s orbit, here are five things to watch as her search for a running mate unfolds:

1. Tim Kaine

The Virginia senator will appear with Clinton at a rally Thursday in his home state. They’re expected to have a private conversation en route to Annandale, after Clinton visits Democratic senators on Capitol Hill.

He’s mentioned at the top of every single conversation and Clinton believes he could help win Virginia. He’s been increasing his outreach to progressive groups in recent weeks, particularly the abortion-rights movement, and may well address that during Thursday’s appearance to make them more comfortable with his views.

He has a strong connection to donors from his time as Democratic National Committee chairman. He has a strong ally in current Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a strong supporter of the Clintons who has been making the case to former President Bill Clinton that Kaine would be a strong pick.

Kaine also speaks fluent Spanish and is a Catholic, both of which are key.

“He’s a safe pick, who gets more interesting the more you learn about him,” one Democrat close to Clinton said. “He’s fiercely loyal and she can trust him.”

2. Sherrod Brown

The Ohio senator is said to be “incredibly intriguing” to Clinton. He could help carry Ohio, which is a battleground where she will need help.

Yet he has two strong points against him: His Senate seat would be filled by a Republican and his strong opposition to NAFTA back in the 1990s could simply highlight her support for it. Bill Clinton is also said to be skeptical of him for this reason.

“He’s more of a risk,” one Democrat close to Clinton said. “She doesn’t like to take risks.”

3. Cory Booker

The New Jersey senator excites young voters and the old Obama coalition. Clinton likes and trusts his loyalty.

He’s been heavily vetted, particularly his time as Newark mayor. It’s unclear what that examination found, but it’s key to her decision. This may be the biggest unknown variable of her VP pick. If he’s clean, she’s interested.

Clinton has told people she’s willing to lose his New Jersey Senate seat, if it helps add excitement to her ticket and wins the White House. The new campaign discussion of race could also help his chances.

“Do not count him out,” one Democrat close to Clinton said. “She loves his story and what it would add to her campaign.”

4. Tom Vilsack

The agriculture secretary is seen as the person on the list she can most trust. She has felt a kinship with him since her first presidential bid and values his judgment, intellect and loyalty.

He would be the “safest pick of all,” a Democrat close to both Clinton and Vilsack said, but would be far more of a “Plan B pick.”

He is strong in rural America and his native Pittsburgh, but doesn’t excite the liberal Democratic base. He’s seen as the “boring Tim Kaine,” another Democrat said, “but one she trusts implicitly.”

5. Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts senator is intent on defeating Donald Trump and Clinton loves her fiery approach, but she also doesn’t truly trust her and “would constantly worry what she’s about to say,” a friend of Clinton’s said.

For these and other reasons, Warren seems to be the most unlikely pick.

“You get the benefit of her without having to pick her,” a Democrat close to Clinton said. “So why would she?”

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