TAMPA — Hillary Clinton had yet to announce her pick for a running mate when an estimated 3,600 supporters filed out of her Tampa rally Friday afternoon, but already they were buzzing about U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.
A Roman Catholic known for his moderate views, Kaine's pending candidacy didn't stoke enthusiasm among Democrats, but it didn't elicit strong objections either.
"I think he'll be okay," Wes Gadsden, 57.
Like many asked during Friday's rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds, Gadsden said he preferred a far more liberal senator, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
"We have to do something very bold and put two women on the ticket," he said.
That was the question: Should the Clinton campaign be bold or play it safe?
"I don't know that much about Tim Kaine," said Greg Walton, 63, of Palm Coast. "I've heard that he'd be a safe choice. That's all I know."
Walton said his first choice would've been Warren or Julian Castro, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"Bernie Bots worship her almost as much as they do Bernie," he said, referring to Warren and Clinton's primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "I think that would help draw all those people into the fold."
While most in the crowd had favorites other than Kaine, no one found him to be objectionable, either. Many said they would be excited about Warren, Castro, or U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., but they all said they could get behind Kaine if that's the way the political winds were blowing.
"I'm an Elizabeth Warren fan but I've heard she's out of the running," 22-year-old Chandler Martin of Tampa said before the rally.
"I'm guessing it's probably going to be Tim Kaine," he said. "I don't know much about him to be honest. I'm assuming she's going to pick him for bipartisan support."
Lindy Griffin, 65, of the Carrollwood area, said a pick like Kaine "would be an excellent choice."
"He's known for reaching across the aisle and that's what we need," he said.
Other supporters said race and gender could factor into Clinton's decision. And it should, if she wants to win the general election, said Gene Pickens, 70, who himself is African-American.
"I don't think Booker would be her best running mate," Pickens said of the black New Jersey senator. "Look what Obama did. He got a middle-aged white guy (Joe Biden) to balance the ticket."
Contact Jack Suntrup at [email protected] or (727) 893-8092. Follow @JackSuntrup.