- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sen. Elizabeth Warren unloaded a blistering attack Thursday on likely GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump as she began an unofficial audition for the vice presidential slot on Democrats’ own ticket.

She’s one of a handful of high-profile Democrats, including both members of Congress and President Obama’s Cabinet, who are in the conversation about potential running mates for Hillary Clinton, who sewed up her party’s nomination this week.

And while some of them are likely to tout themselves as bridges between Mrs. Clinton and supporters of her primary opponent, Sen. Bernard Sanders, analysts say her pick doesn’t need to be about unifying her party as much as it should be about sending a signal to voters that she’s ready to compete with Mr. Trump for blue-collar support.

“The argument is, by all the know-it-alls, that Elizabeth Warren is the best shot because she brings the Bernie-ites around because of her populist Democratic credentials,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime Democratic political consultant who worked on Bill Clinton’s 1996 White House campaign.

“That’s not necessarily the case. The Bernie-ites may not be coming back anyway, and the attempt to attract young people may not be a success,” he said. “Hillary Clinton needs to win more white men in the Midwest. Does Elizabeth Warren help do that? Or does Sherrod Brown from Ohio help her where she needs help?”

Indeed, Mr. Brown — a strongly pro-union senator widely respected in progressive circles — endorsed Mrs. Clinton in October and campaigned for her earlier this year ahead of the Ohio primary. While he’s publicly downplayed the idea of being on the ticket, Mr. Brown could appeal to working-class white voters in Ohio and across the Rust Belt, an area of strength for Mr. Trump.

While Mr. Brown could add some liberal gravitas to the Clinton ticket, he doesn’t carry the star power of Ms. Warren. The Massachusetts senator has largely been mum on the idea of joining the ticket, but she’s emerged as a leading critic of Mr. Trump.

Her willingness to publicly duke it out with the billionaire businessman, along with her near cultlike status among progressives, makes her an appealing pick for the Clinton operation.

“Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and serves nobody but himself. And that is just one of the many reasons why he will never be president,” Ms. Warren said in a speech Thursday night, demonstrating the kind of blunt political attacks that could prove useful to the Clinton campaign as the general-election effort unfolds.

Appealing to liberals is just a part of the vice-presidential calculations now under way inside the Clinton campaign.

Other top Democrats have been more outspoken supporters of Mrs. Clinton and have actively campaigned for her across the country, something Ms. Warren has not done.

However, on the same day President Obama formally endorsed the former secretary of state, Ms. Warren did the same on a Thursday night edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC and in an interview with the Boston Globe.

Other candidates include Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who campaigned for Mrs. Clinton in Arizona, California and elsewhere this year, and also joined Clinton campaign conference calls this year to attack Mr. Trump’s economic agenda.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro not only has publicly backed Mrs. Clinton but became a leading surrogate on immigration reform. Mr. Castro — viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party — joined Clinton campaign conference calls this year to blast Mr. Sanders’ record on immigration reform.

Mr. Castro and Mr. Perez could help Mrs. Clinton with Hispanic voters, though it’s unclear how much help she needs, given Mr. Trump’s testy relationship with that voting bloc.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, another possible contender, endorsed Mrs. Clinton in June 2015 and appeared on the stump in Iowa and elsewhere.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was one of the first high-profile Democrats to formally back Mrs. Clinton, offering an endorsement in June 2014 and subsequently campaigning with the former first lady across his state. Mr. Kaine also has become a foreign-policy surrogate for Mrs. Clinton, taking aim at Mr. Trump and painting him as unqualified to lead the free world.

In the end, political analysts say, appealing to liberals is less important than other factors, and Mrs. Clinton would be better served to broaden the scope of what she’s looking for. One of the key considerations is likely to be experience, particularly in the foreign policy realm, since Mrs. Clinton has made clear she’ll try to convince voters Mr. Trump can’t be trusted with national security.

“You could make an argument that she could pick a liberal to help her credentials with liberals, but in the end, are progressives really going to vote for Trump anyway?” said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor and pollster at Pennsylvania’s Franklin and Marshall College. “Qualified to succeed [Mrs. Clinton as president] — I think in many respects that is the threshold question a candidate has to get by I think you’re probably better off picking a candidate that’s credible. Being qualified to succeed may be far more important today than whether you come from a swing state or not.”

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