WASHINGTON ― Hillary Clinton’s campaign considered the chief executives of Apple, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Starbucks and Xerox as potential running mates, according to an email that the whistleblowing platform Wikileaks released.
The executives were listed alongside nearly four dozen vice presidential candidates that a team of Clinton’s top advisers compiled, including campaign chairman John Podesta, who wrote the March 17 email.
Clinton, who has billed herself as a champion for women and minorities, has since taken heat for choosing a white, Christian, straight, cisgender man as her vice presidential pick. But the names pulled from the private sector, which has struggled to proportionally elevate women and minorities to top-ranked slots, represent a diverse bunch.
Apple CEO Tim Cook became the first openly gay chief executive in the Fortune 500 when he came out two years ago. Coca-Cola CEO and Chairman Muhtar Kent, a Turkish-American, has said he was “very proud to have been raised as a secular Muslim.” General Motors CEO Mary Barra made history in 2013 when she became the auto giant’s first-ever female chief. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is Jewish. Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, who announced plans to step down this year, is the only black woman leading a company in the S&P 500.
Coca-Cola, GM and Xerox declined to comment. Apple and Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent Tuesday morning.
Still, putting five executives with little or no political experience on the vice presidential list could underscores concerns over Clinton’s close corporate ties at a time when income inequality has become a core issue. Sanders’ surprise challenge during the Democratic primary propelled economic inequality to the forefront of the election, becoming a major theme of both parties’ campaigns.
That Podesta also included progressive darlings such as Sanders, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) may ease those concerns.
The Clinton campaign has yet to authenticate any documents that WikiLeaks, led by hacker and political provocateur Julian Assange, has leaked.