WASHINGTON • The Hillary Clinton campaign has begun checking the positions, backgrounds and financial dealings of at least three potential vice-presidential candidates, Democrats familiar with the process have said.
The three names are Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senator Timothy Kaine of Virginia.
Mrs Clinton has also begun to winnow a list of more than a dozen potential choices, another senior Democrat said on Tuesday. She is "beginning the process of narrowing a list of qualified candidates", that Democrat said, but is still expected to consider numerous candidates.
Mrs Clinton herself has said only that her top priority is choosing someone who could become president in a heartbeat, but close allies have said she is also focused on picking a partner with whom she is personally comfortable and someone able to rally congressional Democrats and energise the party.
Mrs Clinton's campaign was mum after an Associated Press report on Tuesday naming Mr Kaine, Mrs Warren and Mr Castro as early choices to be vetted, and campaign spokesman Brian Fallon declined to comment.
DON'T KNOW, DON'T TALK
Those who talk don't know, and those who know don't talk.
A SENIOR CLINTON OFFICIAL, on the potential vice-presidential candidates.
"Those who talk don't know, and those who know don't talk," a senior Clinton official said.
The vetting process is being run by Democratic lawyer Jim Hamilton in consultation with campaign chairman John Podesta and outside adviser Cheryl Mills, a long-time Clinton family confidant who served as Mrs Clinton's chief of staff at the State Department, several Democrats said.
The circle is wider than those first three names, and others will be vetted, several Democrats familiar with the process said. All those interviewed spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of a closely held and ongoing process that they cautioned remains in its early stages.
Two Democrats said they do not expect Mrs Clinton to narrow her list to a couple of finalists until much closer to the Democratic nominating convention in late July. Still, it is "reasonable" to conclude that the circle is narrowing now, one senior Democrat said.
As they attended Tuesday's Senate lunches, some of the Democrats who have been floated as potential Clinton running mates declined to talk about it. Asked whether he was being vetted, Mr Kaine silently winked at reporters.
Although some potential picks, including Labour Secretary Thomas Perez and Representative Xavier Becerra (California), were not among the three people whose vetting Democrats confirmed was under way, that does not mean they might not be considered.
Retired admiral Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also seen as a dark horse candidate. He had been previously vetted by long-time Clinton ally Harold Wolfson when former New York mayor Michael Bloom- berg considered an independent bid for president.
Asked about Mrs Warren, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Jon Tester said: "Is the country ready for two women? I don't know."
Mrs Warren, an icon of the progressive wing, remains the most sought-after Democratic surrogate.
On Tuesday, she starred in a Facebook video ad produced by MoveOn.org. In less than a day, her wonkish explanation of how the taxes of Mr Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, might reveal deceptive business practices scored 2.2 million views.
In a poll last week conducted by Selzer & Co for Bloomberg Politics, just 5 per cent of Clinton supporters said Mr Kaine would be the best possible pick.
Six per cent suggested Mr Brown, and 35 per cent said Mrs Warren.