Hillary Clinton announced, yesterday during her campaign in Florida, that her choice for Vice President running-mate will be Tim Kaine. The presidential candidate for the U.S Democratic Party revealed her choice in a message to supporters late on Friday in a bid to regain prominence after the Republican convention in Cleveland. The week’s political events in the U.S had previously focused on Donald Trump’s antics during the last days of the Republican Convention, including his hesitant pick of Mike Pence as the vice presidential candidate. Mrs. Clinton is, however, now set to take centre-stage as her announcement had been long anticipated.
Kaine, along with Tom Vilsack, was one of the two candidates reported to be remaining on Clinton’s shortlist for a running-mate.
The announcement of Kaine gaining the coveted position over Vilsack has come as a shock to those that expected Vilsack’s close personal relationship with the Clinton’s to steal him the spot. Yet, factors such as his strong support for a Trans-Pacific partnership, which Clinton has recently opposed, would have contributed to his loss. Also, Kaine’s reputation as a loyal figure could be what ultimately convinced Clinton that he was a safe and steady bet for the job. Clinton had explained that her top considerations for a pick were a good governing partner and someone who could step into the role of president if needed.
Clearly, she believes that Kaine best meets these requirements. Other candidates included Labour Secretary, Tom Perez; who would have been the first Hispanic candidate for the party, Cory Booker; who, as an African-American would have represented a key piece of the Democrats’ demographic coalition, Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren.
Tim Kaine, a junior Senator from Virginia, was elected to the senate in 2012. He is an attorney and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1983, after a B.A Degree in Economics from the University of Missouri in 1979. He was born in Minnesota but grew up in Kansas City. Elected to the Richmond City Council in 1994, Kaine later served as Mayor (from 1998-2001). Kaine is fluent in Spanish, having worked with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras for nine months between 1980 and 1981.
This could help Clinton’s campaign reach out to Hispanic voters in places such as Florida, where she is currently campaigning.
In 2013, he endorsed immigration reform in a 13-minute speech completely in Spanish. The first time a senator delivered a full speech on the floor of the Senate in a language other than English. Kaine also being a representative of Virginia, a “must-win” swing state, where he is fairly popular, may work in the Democrats’ favour. Kaine is also viewed as being very loyal to the party, voting as a senator with the Democrats on more than 90percent of issues.
Kaine will, however, be quite a controversial choice in the eyes of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. He recently announced, during a Senate campaign, a $5billion cut of budget and the elimination of the Virginia estate tax. Also, he has previously been vocal about his opposition to abortion, a stance that will make pro-choice Democrats uncomfortable about his position as vice presidential candidate. Although he now takes a more moderate stance, he was noted, previously, for saying, “I think life is sacred, whether its abortion or the death penalty”.
More notably, last year, he voted in support of giving the president “fast track” authority thought to be vital for approving the same controversial 12-nation pacific trade pact, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that Vilsack is a strong supporter of.
On the other hand, Kaine endorses a more moderate position than that of Vilsack, in that he emphasises that such deals will be favourable but they must also ensure the protection of workers’ rights in the process of securing them.
Moreover, he has recently been criticised for his support of loosening bank regulations. In a statement on Thursday, Charles Chamberlaine, Executive Director of Democracy for America, said “Let’s be really clear: It should be disqualifying for any potential Democratic vice presidential candidate to be part of a lobbyist-driven effort to help banks dodge consumer protection standards and regulations designed to prevent banks from destroying our economy. Our presidential ticket cannot beat the billionaire bigot by simply being Not-Donald Trump.
To win in November, our ticket needs to have an unquestionably strong record in the fight against income inequality, one of the defining issues of the 2016 election.”
This backing of regulatory changes that profits large banks is a strongly opposing view to that of Elizabeth Warren, who was seen as the liberals’ favourite. Despite this, though, Kaine’s past of championing fair housing laws and representing clients on the basis of race and disability discrimination in his career as an attorney, could still allow him to win the liberals within the Democratic Party.
In the wake of Theresa May becoming the U.K’s second female Prime Minister, Hillary Clinton winning the election in November would mean that three of the world’s most powerful states; the U.S, the U.K and Germany, would be headed by women.
Whether or not this will take place remains to be seen, though. In a political climate of extremes, given the current security issues caused mainly by an increase in terror attacks, this presidential campaign will be a challenge for the Democrats, going in with a female candidate. Especially as Trump supporters, at the recent Republican convention, applauded his remarks on stamping out criminality, and restoring law and order.
Elizabeth Warren, initially being a strong candidate, would have made the Democrats’ campaign an all-female team if she had won the position; a move that could possibly have shocked a nation that has never had a female president. Choosing Tim Kaine, however, a white man who grew up in the mid-west, would settle fears that Clinton might have had of voters rejecting a campaign with two women, or a woman and a person of colour.
It might also win more Republican leaning swing-voters in the mid-west who might have voted for Trump.