Podesta Sorted Potential Running Mates by ‘Food Groups’: WikiLeaks

  • Podesta listed women, blacks, Hispanics, WikiLeaks says
  • Bill and Melinda Gates, Mary Barra, Tim Cook on early list

Bill and Melinda Gates hold a press conference in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 29, 2010.

The chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign sent her a list of 39 potential running mates listed by “rough food groups,” such as women, blacks, Hispanics and business leaders, according to WikiLeaks.

Among leaders from the business world in John Podesta’s “first cut” of potential vice-presidential choices were Bill and Melinda Gates, Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and General Motors Co.’s Mary Barra, according to a message posted by the site.

Clinton’s campaign has declined to confirm the authenticity of alleged Podesta e-mails that Julian Assange’s organization has been posting for more than a week, and has suggested some may have been altered. The campaign, citing U.S. intelligence community assessments, has blamed Russian hackers for targeting Democratic groups in an attempt to meddle in the U.S. election.

The alleged e-mail on running mates was dated March 17, 2016, after Clinton scored a series of decisive primary wins. Standing alone -- at the bottom of the list -- was her primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Schultz, Kent

While presidential contenders often say they want a running mate who’s best-prepared to take over if needed, they also look to achieve geographical or ethnic balance on the ticket. Sometimes they leak names as trial balloons or to court different constituencies.

Other business leaders listed included Starbucks Corp.’s Howard Schultz, Coca-Cola Co.’s Muhtar Kent and former Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, whose organization donated $10 million to $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to its website. Also listed was former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Podesta offered a category of female senators including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who had taken over Clinton’s seat when she became secretary of state in 2009, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose fervor for tougher regulation of Wall Street appealed to some of the same young and liberal voters whom Sanders attracted.

A category of Latinos included House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (whose name was misspelled as “Javier”), Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose heritage is Mexican, Jewish and Italian.

A list of black politicians included New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Military leaders included Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff .

White male politicians included Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend and fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton; Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown; and her eventual choice, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

Top Aides

Podesta wrote to Clinton that he’d come up with the list along with campaign manager Robby Mook, communications director Jennifer Palmieri and longtime Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, suggesting it had buy-in at high levels of the campaign, according to the message posted online. He also discussed arranging vetting for the candidates, according to the message.

The alleged message is one of more than 17,000 that WikiLeaks has released from what it says was Podesta’s personal account. If genuine, they would give readers an almost unprecedented view into an ongoing presidential campaign, from its political positions and speech planning to its confrontation of damaging stories and tensions between officials.

Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin, who refused again Tuesday to confirm whether the e-mails are legitimate, compared the leaks to the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee.

“Donald Trump is cheering on a Russian attempt to influence our election through a crime reminiscent of Watergate but on a more massive scale,” Caplin said in an e-mail. “This time, instead of filing cabinets, it’s people’s emails they’re breaking into and a foreign government is behind it. Oddly, Trump continues to defend Putin and deflect blame.”

Trump has repeatedly cited the e-mails, including alleged information about the campaign’s handling of Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state and her speeches to Wall Street firms, to attack his rival.

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