Unprompted, White House press secretary Josh Earnest mentioned Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine Wednesday as someone President Barack Obama would recommend to Hillary Clinton as a vice-presidential pick.

Earnest confirmed that Obama has weighed in on Clinton’s vetting process, but did not say exactly what advice the president gave. He tossed out Kaine’s name as someone qualified. Kaine is seen by many Democrats as the leading candidate to join Clinton on the ticket. She is expected to name a running mate as soon as Friday.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Obama was among those providing advice to Clinton.

Earnest noted that Obama often calls his selection of Vice President Joe Biden as his running mate “the smartest political decision that he has ever made.” “So when you consider how well that turned out, it seems natural that Secretary Clinton might consult President Obama about the process that he undertook to choose Vice President Biden,” he told reporters during the daily White House briefing.

Earnest also offered praise for sitting Cabinet members and vice-presidential prospects Tom Vilsack and Thomas E. Perez.

“These are individuals who are serious, who are focused on the right things. They’ve got their values in line. These are two men who have dedicated their lives public service and they’re in it for the right reasons,” he said of Vilsack and Perez. “And so, I guess my point is the reason that President Obama entrusted them with the responsibilities that they have now, which are substantial – their success in doing that job is exactly the same reason that people speculate that Secretary Clinton might be inclined to give them even more responsibility.”

Earnest made a point of saying Obama considered Kaine “one of his own,” even though he hadn’t served in the Cabinet. The Virginia senator was “one of the first public officials” to endorse Obama during his first White House bid, he added, was vetted as a potential running mate in 2008 and chaired the Democratic National Committee right after Obama took office.

“And so, I don’t know if the president has a specific favorite, but I know the president is extraordinarily proud of all three of those individuals,” he added. “And ultimately, he’s going to defer to Secretary Clinton to make a decision that she believes is best.”

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