Clinton announces Sen. Kaine as VP pick
Cleveland — Hillary Clinton named Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate Friday, adding a centrist former governor of a crucial battleground state to the Democratic ticket.
In a text message to supporters, the presumptive Democratic nominee said, “I’m thrilled to tell you this first: I’ve chosen Sen. Tim Kaine as my running mate.”
On Twitter a few seconds later, Clinton described Kaine as “a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others.”
Kaine himself tweeted, “I’m honored to be her running mate.” The two will make their first appearance together Saturday at a rally in Miami.
Clinton’s decision caps a highly secretive, months-long process to find a political partner. Clinton called Kaine by phone around 7:30 p.m. Friday to offer him the job, and he accepted, according to a campaign aide. She then called President Barack Obama to inform him of the decision.
Kaine, 58, had long been a favorite for Clinton’s ticket. Active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs, he built a reputation for working across the aisle as Virginia’s governor and as mayor of Richmond. He’s also fluent in Spanish, which could help the campaign appeal to many Hispanic Americans who have been turned off by Republican Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric about immigrants.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, praised the selection late Friday.
“Like Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine is a progressive who likes to get things done,” she said in a statement. “Throughout his public career, Tim has been a champion for middle class families. Working alongside him in the Senate, I have seen first-hand Tim's leadership to raise wages for workers and keep America safe. Like Hillary, Tim has the experience, judgement and temperament to lead our country.”
Conversely, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel on Friday blasted the Kaine pick as maintaining “the status quo that’s failing Michigan families.”
“Tim Kaine is a clear sign that Hillary Clinton wants to make no changes, and instead wants to keep pushing the failed liberal policies of the Obama administration,” McDaniel said in a statement.
Clinton also considered Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a longtime friend of the candidate and former President Bill Clinton. Kaine’s strong ties to Virginia, a crucial general election battleground, and his foreign policy experience put him over the top, according to a person close to the campaign, who insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the process publicly.
Both men had friends and allies lobbying the Clinton campaign on their behalf. But Kaine had a particularly powerful backer: Obama, who told the campaign during the selection process that he believed the senator would be a strong choose.
Trump, in a text to his own supporters, said Obama, Hillary and Kaine were “the ultimate insiders” and implored voters to not “let Obama have a 3rd term.” His campaign late minted the nickname, “Corrupt Kaine.”
Kaine is viewed skeptically by some liberals in the Democratic Party, who dislike his support of free trade and Wall Street. They pushed Clinton to pick Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, intensifying their criticism of Kaine late this week as his selection appeared imminent.
Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said Friday that Kaine’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact gives Republicans “a new opening to attack Democrats on this economic populist issue.”
But U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said Kaine’s selection wouldn’t necessarily create a rift with supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“He is a bridge builder. He know how to work with everybody,” she told Fox News Friday night.
Clinton’s campaign largely declined to comment on the search process, trying to keep the details — even the names of the finalists — under wraps to try to maximize the impact of their announcement. She made no mention of her impending pick during a somber meeting Friday with community leaders and family members affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and a later campaign rally in Tampa.
As Clinton prepared to make her VP pick Friday, Trump met with supporters at his convention hotel in Cleveland to run through a long list of thank-yous after the end of his four-day coronation as head of the Republican Party.
But rather than stay focused on Clinton or reach out to the general election voters he now must court, the newly minted Republican nominee spent considerable time stoking the fire of his bitter quarrel with Republican former rival Ted Cruz. “Ted, stay home,” Trump said, dismissing any interest in an endorsement the Texas senator refuses to provide. “Relax. Enjoy yourself.”
Trump boasted of his TV ratings, his primary victories and other achievements, including winning over his wife, Melania, in a stream-of-consciousness delivery with his vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, standing quietly nearby.
“I don’t do anything unless I win,” Trump insisted. He promised to work “so hard” as the nominee and vowed his campaign was “not going to disappear,” even though he has no plans to campaign this weekend and no events on his schedule for next week.
No matter, perhaps, as that time will belong to Clinton and the Democrats, whose own convention begins Monday in Philadelphia. Kaine, who won election to the Senate in 2012 after serving as Obama’s first chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will likely speak in the slot reserved for the vice presidential pick on Wednesday night.
Clinton’s plans to pick Kaine, hinted at for several days leading up her Friday announcement, had been viewed as a safe choice against the Republican ticket of Trump and Pence.
Some Democrats believe Trump’s selection of Pence, a conservative white man from a largely Republican state, freed Clinton from pressure to add another woman or minority to her ticket. Her short list included Warren, two Latino cabinet secretaries and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, one of two black U.S. senators.
Democrats argue that Kaine could help her woo moderate and even some Republican voters turned off by Trump’s provocative rhetoric, which was at the center of his 75-minute Thursday night acceptance speech. Trump pledged to restore a sense of public safety, strictly curb immigration and save the nation from Clinton’s record of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”
Democrats offered a different assessment of the state of the nation. Obama said Friday that Trump painted a picture that “doesn’t really jibe with the experience with most people.”
At a White House news conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Obama said crime rates, especially those for violent crime, are lower than at any time in the past 30 years. He noted violent crime has recently risen in some cities, “but we’re not going to make good decisions based on fears that don’t have a basis in fact.”
Kaine got some practice challenging Trump’s message when he campaigned with Clinton last week in northern Virginia, where he spoke briefly in Spanish and offered a strident assault on Trump’s White House credentials.
“Do you want a ‘you’re fired’ president or a ‘you’re hired’ president?” Kaine asked in Annandale, Virginia, as Clinton nodded. “Do you want a trash-talking president or a bridge-building president?”