Why Hillary Clinton Chose Tim Kaine as Running Mate


Hillary Clinton’s choice of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate has been described as ‘selecting a battleground-state politician with working-class roots and a fluency in Spanish’, traits that she believes can bolster her chances to defeat Donald J. Trump in November.

The choice, which she announced via text message to supporters, came after her advisers spent months poring over potential vice-presidential candidates who could lift the Democratic ticket in an unpredictable race against Mr. Trump.

Mrs. Clinton decided that Mr. Kaine, 58, a former governor of Virginia who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had the qualifications and background, and the personal chemistry with her, to make the ticket a success.

Mrs. Clinton shun prolific politicians like Thomas E. Perez, the secretary of labor, who would have been the first Hispanic on a major party ticket; Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who would have been the first African-American to seek the vice presidency; and James G. Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who served as the supreme allied commander at NATO but had never held elected office.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kaine have similar positions on many issues, and they are said to share an easy rapport and an interest in policy details. “I do have a fondness for wonks,” Mrs. Clinton said in the PBS interview.

Asked whether Mr. Kaine was boring, Mrs. Clinton said, “I love that about him.” She added, “He’s never lost an election.”

The son of a welder, who owned a small metalworking shop, Mr. Kaine, a Roman Catholic, grew up around Kansas City, Mo. He attended a Jesuit school and took a break from law school at Harvard to spend time as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, an experience that his family has said shaped him and helped him become fluent in Spanish.

Early in his career, Mr. Kaine worked on fair housing and civil rights issues as a lawyer. He was elected to the City Council in Richmond, Va., in 1994, and proceeded to climb the ranks of elected office in the state. He became the city’s mayor in 1998, the state’s lieutenant governor in 2002 and the governor in 2006. He also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

As governor, Mr. Kaine drew some support from rural parts of the state as well as strong backing in the state’s Democratic-leaning suburban areas. He led the state through one of its darkest times, the shooting at Virginia Tech that killed 32 people in 2007. In 2013, Mr. Kaine implored the United States Senate to find a “small measure of courage” to fight the gun lobby and impose tougher background checks on gun ownership.

Mr. Kaine was an early endorser of Senator Barack Obama’s presidential bid in the 2008 nominating fight against Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Kaine was also considered on Mr. Obama’s shortlist of vice-presidential candidates before Mr. Obama selected Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware. In 2012, Mr. Kaine defeated George Allen, a Republican, to take the Senate seat being vacated by the Democrat Jim Webb.

Mrs. Clinton’s choice of Mr. Kaine underscores the rising political importance of Virginia, a state with a significant suburban and minority population.

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