USDA’s Vilsack Top Contender in Veep Tryouts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is making television news rounds in support of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and likely testing the waters to be a running mate as well.

Vilsack—a squeaky-clean administrator and long-time ally of the Clintons—is on the short list of possible vice presidential contenders, along with Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, among several others.


President Barack Obama’s longest-serving cabinet member, Vilsack took to the airwaves over the weekend to both tout Clinton and try his hand at attacking Donald Trump, comparing the Republican candidate’s policy proposals to that of infamous Wall Street Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff.

“Donald Trump is to politics what Bernie Madoff is to investment,” Vilsack told NBC News. “He is selling something that people don’t fully understand and appreciate what it actually means.”

Vilsack earlier appeared on MSNBC July 13, where he deferred questions about the vice presidential pick to the Clinton campaign while highlighting the candidate’s work on combatting world hunger and agricultural development as secretary of state.

One potential sticking point to a Clinton-Vilsack ticket is his position on trade. Vilsack has been an ardent supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement widely seen as beneficial to U.S. farmers. Clinton had supported the free trade agreement, but has backtracked amid pressure from the Democratic Party’s progressive wing.

“Hillary obviously has concerns about this particular trade agreement,” Vilsack told MSNBC. “From an agricultural perspective, it’s clear that it’s supporting agriculture and it’s beneficial for agriculture.”

This isn’t the first go-around in the vice presidential horserace for Vilsack, who was vetted as a running mate for John Kerry in 2004. Vilsack made his own short-lived presidential bid in 2008 before dropping out and throwing his support behind Clinton’s unsuccessful bid.

The Clinton campaign is likely to announce a running mate before the Democratic Convention starts July 25 in Philadelphia.