Moments ago the worst kept secret in Washington was confirmed when Hillary Clinton announced on Twitter she has picked Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her running mate in an attempt to bolster her support among blue-collar workers and maximize votes from US Latinos dismayed by Donald Trump.
Kaine, 58, a Catholic former governor of Virginia, has described himself in the past as "boring", and is seen as a safe, moderate if unexciting option, but his everyman roots, executive experience and fluent Spanish are assets that could strengthen the Democratic ticket. By choosing Kaine, 58, a moderate Democrat from a battleground state, Clinton has passed up the chance to pick a left-winger such as senator Elizabeth Warren.
“I am boring,” he said on NBC in June, but then joked, “Boring is the fastest-growing demographic in this country.”
Others on her list presented risks. For instance, some thought an all-women ticket with Sen. Warren could turn off potential backers. Clinton also looked at a political novice, retired Adm. James Stavridis, who is an expert in foreign policy but hasn’t faced the rigors of a political campaign.
According to the FT, Clinton has matched Trump by picking a seasoned elected official who has served as both a governor and a member of Congress. But while the main role of Mike Pence, the Indiana governor chosen by Trump, is to shore up support from conservatives within the Republican party, Kaine will aim to broaden support for Clinton beyond the Democratic base.
“He’s from a working-class background, so he understands the difficulties of blue-collar people and others who don’t have a lot of economic resources,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who has known Mr Kaine since he taught at the college in the late 1980s.
“He’d be very good with the kind of voters Trump is attracting, but he can also reach out to lawyers and elites.”
Clinton announced the move Friday via Twitter, moments after the tragic shooting in Munich got the "all clear", and following the Republican National Convention that adjourned with Donald Trump as the GOP nominee. Democrats hoped the announcement would blunt any momentum Trump gained from his convention. Clinton is expected to campaign with Kaine on Saturday in Miami.
“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” she tweeted.
A campaign official said Clinton made up her mind Friday to tap Kaine. She called him at 7:32 p.m. from Tampa, where she had appeared at a rally, the official said.
Just got off the phone with Hillary. I’m honored to be her running mate. Can’t wait to hit the trail tomorrow in Miami!— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) July 23, 2016
Virginia, a battleground state where Kaine also served as mayor of Richmond, is one of a handful of swing states that will determine the outcome of the race for the White House. Although his state is not part of the rust belt, where Trump’s anti-globalisation stance is most resonant, Kaine has seen first-hand the decline of textile and furniture factories in southern Virginia.
His own father was a welder who ran a metalworking shop in Kansas City, where Mr Kaine’s family moved after his birth in Minnesota. After she spoke to Kaine, Clinton called President Barack Obama to notify him of her choice, the official said.
According to the WSJ, Kaine could help Clinton with minority voters. He took a year off law school to help run a technical school founded by Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. In 2013, he delivered a speech in Spanish on the Senate floor in support of an immigration overhaul. A Catholic, Mr. Kaine joined an African-American church in Richmond and was elected mayor of that majority black city. Many Democrats have long assumed Clinton would choose Mr. Kaine because of his credentials, her comfort with him and because choosing him comes with few risks.
Kaine's his selection could come as a disappointment to the liberal wing of the party, some of which had hoped Clinton would turn to a more populist leader, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in an effort to unite the party following a divisive primary. Kaine’s positions in favor of trade and other matters leave many progressives cold. He is unpopular with some in the Democratic Party’s liberal wing due to his positions on trade and other issues. Last year, he voted to give the president “fast-track” authority to smooth passage of a controversial 12-nation trade pact called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal opposed by the Democratic base. Mr. Kaine has said free-trade deals can help the economy if negotiated in ways that protect workers’ rights.
“He does nothing for [Bernie] Sanders supporters. He does nothing for the young or people of color. He won’t help win the white workers devastated by our perverse trade policies,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the liberal group Campaign For America’s Future. “He is the choice of a candidate confident of victory who wants a safe VP.”
Mr. Kaine is unpopular with some in the Democratic Party’s liberal wing due to his positions on trade and other issues. Last year, he voted to give the president “fast-track” authority to smooth passage of a controversial 12-nation trade pact called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal opposed by the Democratic base. Mr. Kaine has said free-trade deals can help the economy if negotiated in ways that protect workers’ rights. “He does nothing for [Bernie] Sanders supporters. He does nothing for the young or people of color. He won’t help win the white workers devastated by our perverse trade policies,” said Robert Borosage, co-director of the liberal group Campaign For America’s Future. “He is the choice of a candidate confident of victory who wants a safe VP.”
With Donald Trump running as the law-and-order candidate, Republicans hope to tar Kaine for his opposition to the death penalty and cite his pro bono work to try to free two murderers convicted in the 1980s. The effort will echo Kaine’s 2005 campaign for governor of Virginia, when then state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore used the issue against him. What’s new is GOP researchers uncovered the argument used by Mr. Kaine as a lawyer, that the death penalty wasn’t warranted in one case because the suspect didn’t actually rape the 17-year-old victim, but instead sodomized her.
“We plan to use this to show his extreme position on criminal-justice issues,” an RNC official said. As governor, however, Kaine didn’t let his personal views stop death-penalty cases and didn’t intervene in 11 executions, including that of Washington sniper John A. Muhammad.
The senator has been one of Clinton’s most dedicated supporters on the Hill, endorsing her for president in early 2014 before she even announced her candidacy.
Kaine has represented Virginia in the Senate since 2012. From 2006 to 2010 he served as governor of the state, which includes wealthy suburbs of Washington DC, big military bases and pockets of rural poverty. His wife Anne Holton is Virginia’s secretary of education.
The state has voted for the winning candidate in seven of the last nine presidential elections.