Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate Friday evening on Twitter, after spending the day campaigning in the electoral swing-state of Florida.
Clinton’s vice-presidential pick was long-anticipated by party insiders, but not totally clear until recently after rumors swirled that the choice was down to Kaine and Department of Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack. According a Reuters’ source that had knowledge of internal campaign talks, Clinton was also seriously considering New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
However, Kaine has a long, successful history in national and Virginia state politics with strong ties to the both the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, who he endorsed for president in 2014.
“(Tim Kaine has) never lost an election,” Clinton said in an interview earlier this week. “He was a world class mayor, governor and senator and is one of the most highly respected senators I know.”
Nearly all accounts confirm Clinton’s praise of Kaine, who also has a reputation for reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans and pass vital legislation, and is member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relation committees.
His propensity to compromise and make deals also draws the ire of progressives, however, who see him as being cut from the same clothe of centrist Democrats as Mrs. Clinton.
Sen. Kaine is on record supporting fast-track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, favors some deregulation of the banking industry, an authorization of war against ISIS, and is pro-life in spirit, but pro-choice legislatively.
“Republicans will run hard against Democrats on trade this year,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “Unfortunately, since Tim Kaine voted to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Republicans now have a new opening to attack Democrats on this economic issue.”
However, Kaine, who speaks fluent Spanish, is a strong supporter of immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers and advocates for ending the sequestration — automatic cuts to the federal budget.
Despite his political centrism, Kaine is seen as a compliment to Clinton personally, being generally low-key and congenial in disposition. According to an anonymous Clinton campaign official, campaign chair John Podesta told the candidate that her running mate, “needs to be someone who whenever they walk into a room you are glad to see them and want to have them as part of any conversation.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), seems to believe Podesta’s assessment applies here, tweeting the following late Friday after Clinton made her announcement:
Trying to count the ways I hate @timkaine. Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) July 23, 2016
As for President Obama, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this week, “Sen. Kaine is somebody the president deeply respects . . . and was even considered himself as a running mate in 2008.”
Kaine will join Clinton on the campaign trail Saturday in Miami for an event at Florida International University, where Hispanics comprise 60 percent of the student body.
[Reuters] [Politico] [Photo courtesy New York Times]