Editorial: Clinton’s VP pick moderates ticket


In choosing Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine for her running mate, Hillary Clinton has signaled she is interested in moving more toward the Democratic middle — rather than its far left where she was pulled during the primaries. Kaine’s solid credentials make him a smart and safe choice for vice president.

The senator and former governor of Virginia, a swing state, brings qualities that Clinton lacks. Kaine is credible and likeable. Given that Clinton’s biggest pitfalls are her perceived unlikeability and untrustworthiness, he’ll help fill in those gaps. That’s the idea, anyway.

Clinton’s unfavorable ratings remain high at 56 percent, according to a recent CBS News poll. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fares slightly better at 53 percent. In choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to run with him, Trump had a similar mission. Pence is a solid conservative and all-around good guy who is meant to bring some stability and Midwest charm to the ticket.

Kaine will play this role on the Democratic side. He adds credibility without overshadowing Clinton. And Clinton’s choice is a nod to more traditional Democrats. Hopefully, it indicates she’s prepared to pivot away from the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the party leading up to November. Indeed, the selection of Kaine raised hackles with many Sanders’ supporters who voiced their disappointment Monday during the first day of the Democrats’ national convention.

In recent weeks, in an attempt to finally get Sanders’ endorsement, Clinton had started incorporating more of his entitlement agenda — such as promoting free college tuition. Massachusetts Sen. Warren, who was reportedly on the short list, would have been more likely to steal some of the spotlight. Warren, who appeals to the anti-establishment arm of the party, would have helped ease tensions with Sanders’ supporters.

But Clinton needs to win over independents, too. The CBS poll, taken July 22-24, shows Trump leads in likely independent votes over Clinton, 43 percent to 35 percent.

Clinton was also considering two Obama administration officials. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro were considered top contenders, but Clinton chose to separate herself from the administration with Kaine.

Kaine is a Harvard Law graduate with a blue collar background. He’s a strong Catholic and fluent in Spanish, which he showed off when Clinton introduced him as her running mate Saturday in Miami. While Kaine has a nice-guy image, he clearly knows how to win, and he’ll be ready to do what’s necessary to pave the way for Clinton and himself to the White House. He started right off attacking Trump in his initial speech as the vice presidential candidate.

“Do you want a trash-talking president or a bridge-building president? Donald Trump trash-talks folks with disabilities? Trash-talks Mexican-Americans and Latinos?” Kaine said, while doing a lot of trash talking of Republicans.

Most importantly, given his record, Kaine, like Pence, is someone who could be president, should that need ever arise. He knows how to lead and how to bring people together.

Clinton could have chosen a flashier and more exciting running mate, but Kaine won’t rock the boat. Nor will he detract from her historic moment this week when she becomes the first woman to receive her party’s nomination for president.

The reality of this campaign now is that the running mates each seem more electable than the nominees.