What Does Tim Kaine Stand For? Hillary Clinton's Vice President Pick Could Be An Odd Choice
Two days after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence formally accepted the Republican Party's vice presidential nomination, it was revealed by The New York Times that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had named her own running mate — Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren were all reportedly considered for the position, but it was Kaine who was ultimately successful. So what does Tim Kaine stand for? He is not a particularly popular pick among liberal factions of the Democratic Party, but how might he contribute to Clinton's campaign?
Although he is currently the junior senator from the swing state of Virginia, he has had over 20 years of political experience, having previously served as mayor of Richmond, governor of Virginia, and chair of the Democratic National Committee. He is a devout Catholic and is fluent in Spanish. Kaine endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama when he ran against Clinton in 2008, and actually came close to serving as his running mate.
In some ways, Kaine would be the safe VP pick for Clinton, though as FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver wrote, picking him wouldn't do all that much to help her win. Kaine and Clinton both agree on issues like marriage equality and Obamacare, and he could potentially draw more white, male voters and independents. Kaine also started his career focusing on fair housing policies for poor people, including poor people of color, and he took on a number of civil rights cases.
So why, then, is Kaine not considered the ideal liberal pick? The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been one significant reason. He was one of the senators who voted to grant Obama fast-track authority for the controversial trade deal — one which Clinton's opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has passionately opposed. Although Clinton originally supported the TPP, she broke with the Obama administration when she announced that she opposed it late last year. Kaine is also perceived as further to the right of Clinton when it comes to abortion. Although he has defended Roe v. Wade and recently clarified that people should be able to make their own "reproductive decisions," some liberals are wary of his personal opposition to abortion.
Many Sanders supporters had hoped that Clinton would pick a more progressive VP that would more closely align with Sanders' positions on trade deals and Wall Street, but it doesn't look like they will find that in Kaine. Charles Chamberlain, the executive director of liberal group Democracy for America, described Kaine's potential candidacy as "disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump this fall" because of his views on banks and trade deals. Stephanie Taylor, a co-founder of liberal group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, seconded Chamberlain's argument, saying that "there will be a giant opening for Trump and other Republicans to outflank Democrats on economic populism issues and win important swing votes."
It would seem, then, that one of the most important reasons for picking Kaine is that he comes from a swing state, and he might be able to help persuade voters from his newly blue-leaning home state of Virginia to vote for Clinton. In an election where margins will prove vital, Kaine might be able to shift the swing-state tide in the Democratic Party's favor.