Hillary Clinton’s rumored vice presidential shortlist traveled through several incarnations before landing upon a final decision. Some of the floated names were full of charisma, and the progressive wing of the Democratic party — those who fully embraced Bernie Sanders in the primaries — loved the thought of Senators Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker joining the ticket. Late-breaking prospects like Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper showed that Clinton was keeping her options open. The latest rumor about Clinton wanting her VP to boost foreign policy appeal was satisfied by a few hopefuls, including Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.
In the end, Kaine won. He may seem like an anticlimactic choice much like Donald Trump’s chosen running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. However, there are plenty of lesser known details about Pence, and the same goes for Kaine. He was one of the finalists in 2008 for the job under Obama, Bill Clinton privately endorsed him, and the Obama White House still likes him too, which likely pushed Kaine over the top. Let’s dig into Kaine’s history, much like we did with Trump VP pick Mike Pence.
- Political Renaissance Man: Kaine has done it all. He’s logged four years under his belt as the junior Virginia senator. Before that, he racked up four years as governor of Virginia, three years as the lieutenant governor, and three years as the mayor of Richmond. He also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee for two years. Only 20 people have served as mayor, governor, and U.S. senator within the span of their careers. Kaine is one of ’em.
- A Gift-Loving Politician: Kaine has developed quite a reputation for accepting significant gifts, both of cash and non-monetary value, and embracing Virginia’s permissive guidelines to do so. From free vacations to thousands of dollars in clothing, Kaine reportedly gathered up over $160,000 in free stuff during the aughts. As a U.S. senator, Kaine is now bound by federal regulations that don’t allow him to rake in the same bounty. While none of his previous activity has been determined to be illegal, it does make for great attack-ad material.
- Strong On Women’s Issues: Kaine’s Roman Catholic ways dictate his own personal beliefs on abortion, but he strongly supports a woman’s right to choose. Or at least, he believes that the government has no place making laws that dictate what any woman can or can’t do with their womb. He assured his fellow senators and constituents that he’ll vehemently defend Roe v. Wade and oppose any legislation that seeks to dismantle abortion access. Kaine also voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that aimed to close the gender pay gap.
- Evolution On LGBT Issues: Back in the early 2000s, Kaine did not support adoption for gay couples and believed only married couples should be able to adopt. A full decade later, Kaine switched courses and called for gay couples to be qualified to adopt. He opposed the wave of anti-LGBT bathroom bills that are sweeping the nation. As Virginia governor, Kaine also signed a bill to prevent anti-gay discrimination, and in recent years, he’s advocated in favor of same-sex marriage.
- A Foreign Policy Expert: Kaine serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and would deliver Clinton’s desired foreign policy experience. He’s also a Senate counterterrorism subcommittee member and pushes for providing humanitarian aid in war-torn areas like Syria. However, Kaine is notably less of an interventionist than Clinton’s reputation as Secretary of State would dictate. This could soften her in the eyes of Democrats who believe the Senate acts too hastily while authorizing the use of military force.
- A Health Care Mover And Shaker: Kaine is a proud supporter of President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act. He’s also disgusted at how the U.S. can churn out substandard medical care while spending more money than other countries do. Kaine was instrumental in introducing the Family Coverage Act, which made tax credits for state and federal healthcare exchanges accessible. One of Kaine’s biggest areas of health care concern is heroin abuse and prescription drug abuse, which are both huge Virginia issues.
- A Tax Reform Proponent: Kaine favors a simpler tax code with no surprises. He points towards the Senate Budget plan as an excellent model for promoting growth and covering expenses. Kaine would prefer to establish minimum taxes that must be paid by all workers. He opposes the Bush-era tax cuts and would like to see them go. Finally, Kaine wants online retailers to contribute revenue into state tax pools.
- Not So Great On The Environment: Kaine supports wildlife conservation, but even more importantly for Democrats, he’s outwardly concerned with climate change’s potentially devastating results upon our planet. However, his record on these causes is fairly contradictory and shows support of the Clean Power Plan, while also supporting natural gas terminals and offshore Atlantic drilling.
- Well-Liked At Home: Kaine’s approval ratings are pretty good in Virginia, one of the crucial swing states that could impact the election. Helping to deliver Virginia for Clinton is probably one of the many reasons he was selected.
- Late-Breaking Developments: Kaine had an extraordinarily active week before his anticipated new job. He penned letters to advocate for banks receiving favorable federal regulation treatment. He also hopped aboard the Trans-Pacific Partnership train — which would bestow presidents with the power to push trade agreements though with less red tape — that progressive voters likely won’t support. After all, Bernie Sanders warned voters against such agreements, as he believes they hurt the American labor force.
Kaine probably won’t win over the ultra progressive wing of the Democratic party, but his combination of extensive governing experience and foreign policy expertise may woo moderate Republicans and independents who can’t bring themselves to vote for Trump. In this way, Kaine could be considered both a safe and a risky Clinton VP pick. The thinking by Team Clinton is that the Democratic base will be motivated to turn out to vote for Clinton to avoid a Trump presidency regardless of who she selects to be her VP; while selecting someone strong on foreign policy will rope in some voters concerned about the threat of global terrorism. As the nation heads into the general election season, we’ll soon find out if Kaine’s selection helps to enhance Clinton’s chances to win the White House.