July 20, 2016

Clinton’s Veepstakes Hits Troubled Spot

Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential search is not going well. With Clinton’s pick coming later this week, she can hardly afford a negative story about her process, let alone four. Yet that is exactly what she’s received in the last few days. These stories, ranging from an acknowledgement that Clinton, even as a former Secretary of State, does not have the requisite foreign policy experience on her own, to the disclosure that Labor Secretary Tom Perez has lied about his family history, have all broken when Clinton could least afford bad news.

The most damaging of the four stories appeared last night in The New York Times. The story detailed how Clinton is looking to add a person with “national security experience to the Democratic ticket.” Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State was a disaster for America’s national security, so this disclosure makes perfect sense to any neutral observer. Still, this is an incredibly embarrassing acknowledgement from Clinton’s campaign that she does not have the necessary foreign policy experience that America needs in this time of worldwide turmoil.

Additionally, we know Clinton’s national security concerns are coming straight from average Americans. That’s because the New York Times discovered that the Clinton campaign is holding “focus groups to try to determine what qualities undecided voters want to see in Mrs. Clinton’s running mate.” Obviously, Clinton’s failures as Secretary of State, ranging from Libya to the Russia reset, have left a lasting impression for many Americans.

One of the Vice Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton is considering for the national security experience he could add to the ticket is retired Admiral James Stavridis. Yet that brings us to our second veepstakes embarrassment. Speaking on Kilmeade and Friends, Stavridis stated that, even though he was being vetted by Clinton’s campaign, he hadn’t decided who he was voting for, only that he was “leaning” toward voting for Clinton:

“Asked if Donald Trump or Clinton more represented his views, he dodged… ‘At this point, I would say that I am leaning toward Secretary Clinton from everything I have seen so far,’ he added when asked if had made a decision on who to vote for.”

Members of Clinton’s VP short list even get in trouble when they are trying to advocate on her behalf. This week news broke that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro violated the Hatch Act by campaigning for Clinton while doing his government job:

“Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro violated a federal law against politicking on the job earlier this year when he fielded a journalist’s questions about the presidential race and his own chances of being chosen as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, a federal ethics watchdog agency has found.”

Like Clinton, Castro won’t face discipline for his for violating government rules. Yet coming so close to Clinton’s announcement, this is deeply embarrassing.

Finally, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, long a member of the VP shortlist, has seen his chances of being selected crumbled with the appearance of a Wall Street Journal story that exposes the untruths he has been telling about his family history. While Clinton’s VP short list is no stranger to familial fabrication, a story breaking this close to the pick’s announcement could be deadly. Secretary Perez has long claimed his grandfather opposed Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, yet he has long failed to disclose that his grandfather held many high-profile positions under the dictator:

“‘Mr. Perez, in the running to be Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential pick, said in a speech last month that his grandfather ‘was on the right side of history. And I’m so proud of my grandfather for doing that, even though it was against so many forces in place.’ Archival records offer a more complicated picture of Mr. Perez’s maternal grandfather, Rafael Brache. In his comments, Mr. Perez rarely, if ever, mentions that Mr. Brache was one of the dictator’s champions during at least the first five years of his repressive three-decade regime, a fact documented in dozens of cables, letters and memos in public archives in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.”

One incident though, could add to Perez’s favor with Clinton. Like Clinton, Perez showed that he has no problem lying to Congress. In 2013, Perez lied about his grandfather’s actions while testifying before the Senate:

“In addition, Mr. Perez testified in 2013 at his Senate confirmation hearing that his grandfather ‘was declared ‘non grata’ for speaking out against the dictator following the brutal massacre of thousands of Haitians’ in 1937. But in fact, Mr. Brache had left the Dominican Republic about two years earlier, according to State Department memos and media accounts at the time.”

Bad news comes in bunches, and that’s certainly the case for Clinton’s veepstakes. Unfortunately for the presumptive Democratic nominee, given how poorly the primary campaign went, these four bad stories won’t be the last troubles for her Vice Presidential process.