Why Kaine as Clinton’s VP will work for Democrats

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When Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton chose Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate, there was immediate pushback from some (emphasize some) voters who voted for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries.

Some were looking for liberal lion Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Some were hoping for a person of color, such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker or Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Whatever Clinton’s reasons for her choice or the pushback, it’s a done deal. So the questions instead should be — does this help the Clinton campaign, might it hurt her chances, or will it affect the presidential race very much one way or another?

First, let’s look at Tim Kaine. He has served as a senator and a governor, where he expanded early childhood education and fought the National Rifle Association. He started in politics as a city councilman and then a mayor, where he built a new public school in Richmond, named in part for his father-in-law, a Republican governor of Virginia who fought to integrate schools. As a lawyer, he worked on issues of civil rights and fair housing. He learned to speak fluent Spanish while working as a missionary for a year in Honduras on a break from Harvard Law School. While he is against abortion as a Catholic (also against the death penalty), he has supported pro-choice laws and has a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood.

Critics are hitting this choice as a “safe” pick; they say they wanted someone as vice president who would excite the liberal base. Kaine has received criticism for some positions, such as being not tough enough on Wall Street.

But people don’t make their presidential picks on the basis of who will be vice president. They vote for the top of the ticket. The traditional considerations of geographical balance don’t make much difference anymore, although the choice of Kaine likely will boost the ticket’s chances in swing-state Virginia. Virginians reportedly popped champagne corks when they learned of the choice.

As Clinton said during the Miami campaign appearance when she introduced Kaine, with his experience, he’s more than ready to step up to the job of president if needed. Ever since Sen. John McCain picked half-term Gov. $arah Palin as a running mate in 2008, America saw how dangerous it would have been to have such a loose cannon one heartbeat away from the presidency. With all due respect to Warren, Booker, and HUD Secretary Julián Castro, I just don’t think any of them are there yet. (Besides, will anything be more awesome than having Elizabeth Warren as head of the Banking Committee in a Democratic-led Senate?)

Listen to Tim Kaine talk and look at his resume. It’s hard to find more progressive credentials, even if some quibble with parts of his record. An “F” rating from the NRA and a strong record on gun safety as Virginia governor. Ratings of 100 percent from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Human Rights Campaign. Ratings of 96 percent from the AFL-CIO and the NAACP.

The choice of Tim Kaine also shows us that gun safety will continue to be a major focus of the fall campaign. While GOP nominee Donald Trump bragged during his acceptance speech about his NRA endorsement — and repeated the lie that Clinton and other Democrats will “repeal the Second Amendment” — be assured that Clinton-Kaine will put gun safety front and center. During the campaign rollout event in Miami, Kaine said “we will not rest” until the U.S. has gun control.

As governor during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, Kaine knows firsthand the horrors of mass shootings. This is his position on gun safety from his Senate webpage.

I strongly support Americans’ right to bear arms. As a lawyer I fought to constitutionally protect the right of all Virginians to hunt and fish and I respect the rights of responsible gun owners, like myself, in Virginia and across the nation. But I also believe we must take concrete steps to reduce gun violence.

I support a comprehensive approach to curb gun violence which includes expanding mental health services, background record checks prior to gun purchases and responsible limits on combat combat-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

There also was criticism of the VP pick being another white guy. Like it or not (and believe me, I don’t) America might not have been ready for an all-female ticket. Give the country a few years, after we have our first female president. Plus, Clinton already has vowed to have plenty of women in her cabinet.

And we’ll also have another strong woman as the wife of a vice president, just like Dr. Jill Biden. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, is Virginia’s secretary of education and has an extensive record of advocating for children.

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine seem to genuinely get along well — a bigger necessity than most people realize. That’s crucial in any presidency, and the country is better off when the two are in sync. Look how well it worked with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

America will learn more about Tim Kaine in the next week as he delivers his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. But given his speech at his first appearance as the presumptive vice presidential nominee, America — and Democrats — will find a lot to like.

One last thing — I thoroughly approve of the use of the song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by the Clinton campaign. Such a marked difference from the Trump campaign’s using (against artists’ wishes) songs like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”


2 Comments on “Why Kaine as Clinton’s VP will work for Democrats”

  1. Excellent analysis and post, Sher. I totally respect Sen. Kaine’s position on abortion; in fact, I think it should be universal. I am still concerned, however, that neither the Dem establishment nor Clinton/Kaine gets it with respect to the millions of millennials who are Bernie supporters and they support the status quo ( TPP, Wall Street, deregulation of financial industry, for example). For Hill to win, imho, the Bern supporters must be energized, that just the fear of a Trump presidency is inadequate. John

    • John, I understand. But the more people listen to Tim Kaine, I think he will impress them more and more. Those who are so disappointed that they’re returning to the “Bernie or bust” camp weren’t really on board anyway.

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