March 15, 2016

Let’s start with Hillary Clinton in her own words.

Last summer, during a 23-minute interview, I asked Mrs. Clinton about a potential running mate, should she achieve the historic status as the first woman to be nominated by a major party for president.

Here’s that exchange in the interview of the library in the Carroll County home of one her staunchest Iowa supporters, Dr. Steven Kraus.

Carroll Daily Times Herald: In 1992, your husband selected a running mate that really wasn’t based on geography, balancing geography or ideology. He seemed to pick somebody who reinforced his own strengths, his own character.

Using that history as a guide, do you think another Northeasterner, another woman, perhaps Elizabeth Warren (a U.S. senator from Massachusetts) could be your running mate? If you follow what your husband did, she would be your Al Gore, so to speak.

Hillary Clinton: “And they were from neighboring states, too, right, Arkansas and Tennessee. You know, Doug, I don’t know, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself because I am on just the beginning phases of this campaign. First, I have to win the nomination. Then I can look to see how we win the election and what a running mate can contribute to that.

“I am totally open. I have no predispositions. I want to focus on my own race right now, and then, when I get the nomination, turn and say, ‘How are we going to win the general election? Who can be a really good president? And who can help us make the case to the American people?’”

Now back to the analysis.

The Warren selection makes sense for these reasons:

1. Warren would delight supporters of Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Maintaining the Sanders energy for the Democrats is an easier task with Warren as a running mate.

Warren, who spoke at the Hotel Fort Des Moines for Bruce Braley during the 2014 election cycle, connects with the Democratic base. Had she run for president, Warren would have captured the Iowa caucuses. No doubt in my mind.

The longer Sanders holds even a loose reach on viability for the nomination, the more likely Warren is as Clinton’s vice presidential selection.

2. No one at the top levels of American politics is stronger or more savvy than Warren on Wall Street excesses. She understands the true structural reasons for the most animating issue in our politics: income inequality.

Warren has unmatched credibility as a force for Wall Street reform. That insulates Clinton from charges she’s too cozy with New York money.

3. The gender gap. Imagine a ticket of two extraordinarily capable and accomplished women running against Donald Trump. Is there any Democrat who would generate as much excitement as Warren? No. Clinton needs the injection of such freshness.

4. As referenced in my question to Mrs. Clinton, the Warren selection would be right out of President Bill Clinton’s playbook. Rather than making a Lyndon Johnson-like call to balance the ticket as occurred in 1960 with John Kennedy, go with a candidate who reinforces more than complements. Mrs. Clinton saw firsthand how this worked for her husband with Gore.

5. Warren is known for telling truth to power. Perhaps as much as any presidential candidate, Clinton, who has been on the national stage as a leading figure for decades, needs someone unafraid of challenging her behind closed doors.

Clinton is most likely our next president, and should make a choice that will enable her to govern effectively.