Tim Kaine turned into everyone’s dad after the Democratic convention, and in many ways, he is the ideal running mate for Hillary Clinton to take on the general election. However, there’s one key Democratic platform point that’s come under increased scrutiny with Clinton’s formal selection of Kaine as her VP. On abortion, the Virginia senator holds steadfast to the Roman Catholic view, but he also supports a woman’s right to choose. Some analysts wonder whether Kaine can help Clinton reel in the Catholic vote, but Kaine’s promise to defend Roe v. Wade may not reap that effect.
To add another wrinkle to the equation — Kaine and Clinton have differed on the Hyde Amendment, which currently withholds federal funding on abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life is at risk. For the first time (since Hyde’s 1976 passage), the Democratic platform has formally called to repeal the amendment, and that’s where Kaine and Clinton haven’t agreed. Last week, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook reportedly told CNN that Kaine has switched his position and “will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde Amendment.” Mook spoke too soon, perhaps.
On Sunday, Jake Tapper confronted Kaine on his flip flop and questioned how he and Clinton could fundamentally differ on one of the party platform’s most crucial points. Kaine expressed enthusiasm to do anything he can to “support a great Clinton presidency,” but he still favors the Hyde Amendment. Tapper quizzed the potential VP on Mook’s statement, and Kaine pushed back: “That is not accurate and I don’t think Robby has said that, Jake.” Tapper continued to press Kaine over how he and Clinton can unite the Democratic party while differing on this fundamental point. Kaine clarified his stance:
“This is an important personal matter and I’ve always supported Roe vs. Wade. I think the last thing we need is government that intrudes upon the decision-making of women and men too when it comes to matters of whether it’s abortion rights, contraception. … On Hyde, my position is the same. I support the Hyde Amendment. I haven’t changed that. But as a vice president I had to get comfortable with the notion that I can have my personal views, but I’m going to support the president of the United States and I will.”
Voters would be forgiven for feeling whiplash after this interview. During the course of one conversation, Kaine endorses the Hyde Amendment before claiming he’ll support whatever Clinton wants on the issue. In doing so, Kaine now appears to have appeased NARAL Pro-Choice America. A few days ago, the organization tweeted, deleted, and reposted a statement that expressed disappointment with Kaine. Following Kaine’s Sunday CNN appearance, NARAL tweeted how “glad” they are that Kaine will stand with Clinton.
Elsewhere in the interview, Kaine addressed Trump’s continued battle with billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who called Trump a “con man” during his DNC speech and also alluded to issues of Trump’s sanity. Kaine told Tapper, “I don’t know anything about his sanity. I haven’t met him, [but] The guy’s got a bizarre sense of humor.” Kaine was referring to Trump’s “sarcastic” encouragement of hackers to target Clinton, which was indeed odd.