10 Things You Need To Know About Woefully Forgettable White Dude Tim Kaine
Just ahead of the Democratic convention to begin Monday in Philadelphia, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton made her veep selection known to the masses, announcing Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. Many have noted Kaine is a safe choice for the Clinton campaign, with plenty of government experience as a former Virginia Lt. Governor and Governor, and now a junior senator known to many as a moderate. Kaine could give Clinton a huge boost in winning Virginia, a state that’s crucial for a general election victory. There’s just one slight hitch: he’s not popular with the Sanders supporters Clinton is struggling to court, critical of some policies he’s supported, and probably phased by his apparent boring-old-white-ness. But there’s a few things Sanders supporters — and everyone, really — should know about Tim Kaine, their potential future Vice President.
The Daily Beast has identified Kaine as charismatic following his first speech, laced with fluent Spanish, at Clinton’s side. CNN notes he’s undefeated when it comes to campaigning. The Washington Post questions how much his Spanish literacy will really help Clinton. Planned Parenthood and the NARAL, two of the most prominent pro-reproductive rights organizations in the nation, are all about him, but others have their reservations about where he stands on abortion.
So, to set the record straight, Kaine is more complex than he appears (which really, really isn’t difficult). There’s stuff to like, there’s stuff to question, but all in all, he trumps Mike Pence indefinitely, and is worth getting to know.
He (kinda) has Bernie’s support
Would Kaine have been Bernie Sanders’ veep pick, had Sanders won the nomination? Probably not. But Sanders, on Sunday’s CNN State of the Union program, offered a modest nod of approval to Kaine: “On his worst, worst, worst day, Tim Kaine is 100 times better than Donald Trump will ever be.”
So he’s not in love with the guy, noting Kaine is “more conservative” than Sanders is, himself, and struggling to offer positive remarks on Kaine without first comparing him to the nightmare that is Trump, “a guy who rejects science, doesn’t even believe that climate change is real … wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two-tenths of 1 percent … goes around the country insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, veterans and African-Americans.”
But Sanders spoke well of what it’s been like working with Kaine in the senate, and notes Kaine is “an extremely bright guy, a very nice guy,” and judging by Kaine’s humility and eloquence in his Saturday speech, I’m inclined to agree.
He has Obama’s support, too
In 2008, Kaine was vetted by the Obama campaign as a potential running mate, too. Not only that, but he was apparently “very, very high” on Obama’s VP shortlist, so take from that what you will.
As a politician, he’s very similar to Clinton — except on one issue
Kaine and Clinton are so notably similar in terms of their track records and current, apparent centrism, so that many theorize in choosing Kaine, Clinton is looking beyond the campaign trail at who she would trust to succeed her in the event of some great and terrible unforeseen event. But it’s worth noting that while Clinton recently came out opposing the TPP, a trade pact she previously supported before Sanders came out vocally opposing it, Kaine very recently defended his support of it.
As recently as Thursday, Kaine told The Intercept he “think[s] it’s an upgrade of labor standards,” “environmental standards,” and “intellectual property protections.” However, he simultaneously voiced doubts about the TPP’s “dispute resolution mechanism,” which Sanders and progressive icon Elizabeth Warren have noted offers too much power to large global corporations.
Kaine will reportedly come out with an official statement about his stance on the TPP very soon, and it’s entirely likely he’s either changed his mind or at least decided to present a united front with Clinton.
He’s personally opposed to abortion, but Planned Parenthood and other reproductive rights activists don’t care because…
As a staunch Roman Catholic, Kaine doesn’t like abortion. But he has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record because (Conservatives, take notes) he thinks it’s a personal choice women of all faiths and circumstances have the constitutional right to make for themselves, and his voting record reflects this rationale.
He co-sponsored the Protecting Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act in 2013 to restore contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. This is more relevant than ever in light of religious freedom bills being floated in the senate that would allow employers and health care providers to deny women any reproductive health service they morally oppose. Additionally, he’s proposed legislation to give women access to affordable, over-the-counter birth control access.
His gun control record was likely a deciding factor in Clinton’s choosing him
As Virginia’s governor, Kaine signed an executive order imposing restrictions on people with mental illnesses purchasing firearms following the deadly Virginia Tech mass shooting, and vetoed a bill allowing concealed weapons into restaurants serving alcohol. In 2012, he expressed support for limiting the second amendment, and has repeatedly voted in favor of restrictions on high-capacity gun clips, and, additionally, boasts an F-rating with the NRA.
In his Saturday speech, he claimed the issue of gun control was deeply personal to him: “This issue is very close to my heart, very close to my heart. Many of you here feel exactly the same way after that tragic shooting in Orlando in June. We can do better, folks.” He added: “Hillary and I will not rest. We will not rest until we get universal background checks and close loopholes.”
Following so many mass shootings and collective frustration at lack of action in response to this, gun control is a hot-button issue this election season which Trump and Clinton take radically different stances on. Throughout the primary, Clinton frequently made gun control a purpose and drew attention to where she took slightly more progressive stances on the issue than Sanders did, and it’s likely Kaine’s experience with the issue was particularly attractive to Clinton.
His record on education could attract some Sanders supporters
Kaine expanded funding for new public schools in Virginia, and in what could be a pretty big selling point to Sanders supporters, passed a huge bond package for higher education construction in the state, too.
His civil rights history is also pretty similar to Sanders’
As a lawyer, Kaine predominantly worked on cases of racial discrimination and redlining, or discrimination against homeowners by their race. Many of Sanders’ supporters were particularly endeared by Sanders’ college protests against housing discrimination, and Kaine’s own history of fighting the good fight on a professional level could potentially be a selling point to them.
On LGBT rights, he boasts an impressive record
Kaine has consistently either advocated for or even introduced legislation to protect equality for the LGBTQ community as a senator, from introducing a bill to guarantee gay marriages would fully enjoy the same tax benefits as straight ones, while also supporting the Equality Act. As Virginia’s governor, his first executive order was symbolic of his dedication to LGBTQ rights, banning hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Like Hillary (and all politicians, frankly), he’s not without flaws
The third highest portion of Kaine’s political donations are from the “securities and investment” sector, and additionally, he’s supported looser rules on regional and community banks according to Market Watch. This will hardly win over staunchly anti-Wall Street Sanders supporters, who scorned Clinton for her Wall Street ties and fundraising methods, but it’s worth noting Kaine is a seasoned politician. He’s been in this for a long, long time, and the grassroots fundraising methods practiced and advocated for by Sanders are pretty new. Clinton recently pledged to end Citizens United, probably the ultimate enabler of the phenomenon of “buying elections,” and Kaine will hopefully come out taking a similar stance.