WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton’s campaign was in full vice presidential vetting mode Thursday, as the candidate held a series of meetings with top aides involved in the selection process. The presumptive Democratic nominee used the day off from the trail to hold back-to-back discussions about potential running mates with eight different groups of people, all from the comfort of her D.C. home.
Throughout the day, a steady stream of advisers came and went using a private side gate at the residence on Whitehaven Street. Leading the effort was veteran lawyer James Hamilton, who has been a crucial part of Clinton’s hunt for a running mate. He and Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s longtime aide and former chief of staff, arrived early this morning and stayed for nearly 10 hours.
Clinton, who aides say has received regular briefings on the process, is carefully reviewing information on a now-winnowed roster of potential vice presidents. In terms of timeline, Thursday’s meetings served as a key step before Clinton meets face-to-face with her final picks.
It’s unclear exactly how many candidates are left, but with only a few weeks to go until the Democratic National Convention, the long day of meetings suggested Clinton is honing in on her short list. It’s also a little late in the game for very dark horse candidates to receive serious consideration, according to sources familiar with the process.
The former secretary of state has appeared with several contenders in recent months and next week, her campaign announced, Clinton will stump with Sen. Tim Kaine in northern Virginia. Kaine is considered by many Democrats to be a front-runner at this stage.
Clinton could announce her vice presidential choice before the DNC starts, per people familiar with the planning, but Donald Trump’s selection could also affect the timing of the announcement. Clinton has the benefit of going second, though aides say she’ll be pretty set on her top choices by the time the Republican National Convention is over.
On Thursday, the two- and three-person vetting teams who met with Clinton, Hamilton and Mills made a concerted effort to avoid the press.
The marathon day of meetings ran like clockwork. As soon as one car would pull out, the next was just a few minutes away. And as the hours ticked on, it became even more of a cloak and dagger affair.
One thing that's clear at this point: Clinton's process remains much more subtle than the public vetting of candidates by Trump.
Vehicles were driven up the obscured driveway so people could get into their cars and leave quickly. This was particularly unusual for Mills, who drives herself and typically just parks her car out front.
The candidate herself, who is known to arrive and depart through the front door of her Whitehaven home, also chose to use the private side entrance on Thursday. The only glimpse of Clinton was a brief, mostly obscured wave as her motorcade sped away.