Why Clinton Will Tap Kaine for VP

by Alex Knepper

Hillary Clinton is running as the responsible candidate — the one you can trust, at the very least, not to blow up the world. Therefore, she will pick Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, the ultimate do-no-harm pick, for the vice-presidency.

Kaine’s resume is nearly as impressive as Clinton’s: as a popular governor and senator of the major swing state of Virginia, former DNC head, fluent Spanish speaker, and apparently ethically-spotless family man, Kaine checks off all the essential boxes. There is no doubt whatsoever that he could step in as president on Day One, if required. In a testament to his raw political talent, he was even a finalist to serve as Obama’s vice-president eight years ago — before he even finished serving a single term as governor. He is, in a word, an articulate, center-left party man — and one who is loyal to Hillary Clinton. Combined, the Clinton-Kaine ticket would have a total of two decades in major executive and legislative roles — and would have the strongest formal credentials of any ticket in the modern era.

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Why Trump Will Tap Christie for VP

by Alex Knepper

Pundits sometimes accuse Donald Trump of having no guiding principles. Of course he does: Ted Cruz got it right months ago when he said that “everything in Donald’s world revolves around Donald.” That’s why he’s going to pick Chris Christie as his VP.

Christie put his reputation on the line for Trump earlier than anyone else of his stature — and endured an avalanche of ridicule and humiliation for it, without blinking. It took him only two weeks after the end of his campaign in New Hampshire to provide a full-throated endorsement of Trump: “He is rewriting the logic of American politics” and is a “strong and resolute leader,” Christie said of his “good friend.”

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The State of the Race: Hillary the Inevitable, Rubio the Illusory, and a Nevada Prediction

By Alex Knepper

1. Hillary Has Always Been Inevitable

Overexcited journalists have for months been desperately trying to turn the Clinton-Sanders contest into a real race, but when all is said and done, the Democratic primary map is likely to resemble the 2000 Republican one: a blowout victory by a challenger in New Hamsphire fueled by independent voters is quickly snuffed out in South Carolina, after which point the candidate with near-unanimous ‘establishment’ backing cruises to the nomination, losing a few demographically-unfriendly states here and there.

A year ago, I said that Hillary’s unprecedented strengths in the ‘invisible primary,’ unlike in 2008, rendered her the inevitable nominee, and that she would be able to hold off a challenge from Elizabeth Warren (or, as it turned out, someone like her) by holding onto the black vote, not letting her challenger catch her asleep at the wheel in caucus states, and appealing to Democrats’ sense of pragmatism as they try to retain the White House for a third term. This is exactly what she’s done.

The primaries to this point have revealed a not-insignificant challenge facing Clinton in the general election, though: the ‘generation gap’ in the Democratic Party is a veritable chasm, and her surrogates have often acted dismissively and condescendingly toward Sanders supporters. If there’s anything the Clintons can always count on, though, it’s Republican overreach, and Hillary is always at her rhetorical best when taking on Republicans. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, which looks likely right now, Clinton will be able to reach out not only to Sanders supporters but to ‘establishment’-oriented Republicans who just cannot bring themselves to vote for him. And lest we forget about the fundamentals: the electoral college math still favors Democrats.

2. Here We Go With Another Fake Rubio Surge

If Jeb Bush came in a relatively close 2nd in Iowa, 1st in New Hampshire by 20 points, and 1st in South Carolina by 10 points, nobody would question whether the race was basically over. Marco Rubio probably has Nikki Haley to thank for pulling him back from the abyss, but winning a fifth of the vote for a distant second place tie at this stage in the race — and no delegates! — is not impressive. There isn’t one state among the next dozen or so that’s a likely win for Rubio, even in a three-man race with Trump and Ted Cruz — and eventually, if Rubio wants to be a contender for the nomination, he needs to start actually winning states.

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3. Ted Cruz Will Continue to Behave Like Other Iowa ‘Winners’

Ted Cruz’s disappointing third-place finish — and moderately-surprising loss to Trump among Evangelical voters — revealed that he has no path to the nomination. What he does have is a path to possibly win enough delegates in a three-man race to force a brokered convention, at which point he could instruct his delegates to vote for Trump on the condition that Trump selects Cruz as his VP candidate. This is a longshot scenario, but Cruz has plenty of money and organization, plenty of ambition, and plenty of loyal supporters who can’t stomach Trump but find Rubio too unseasoned and ideologically suspect.

In 2008 and 2012 respectively, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, high off of their unlikely come-from-behind wins in Iowa, stayed in the race long beyond the point of viability. Cruz will do the same, and he will lose, too. But in the meantime, his presence makes life easier for Trump. The center-right ‘establishment’ loathes both Trump and Cruz, but for the Republican rank-and-file, Cruz and Rubio are more similar, insofar as they are both Reagan Republicans with relatively conventional political resumes and loyalties that don’t extend very far beyond the traditional GOP nexus. You won’t see Cruz picking any fights with the Pope, George W. Bush, or Fox News.

4. My Nevada Prediction

Predicting caucuses is always a tricky business, and there’s been minimal polling out of Nevada, but here’s my best guess:

Trump 39
Rubio 30
Cruz 26
Kasich 4
Carson 2