Tim Kaine for Veep

My previous #1 choice for Obama’s vice-presidential pick, Sen. Jim Webb, has taken himself out of consideration. And, none of the other choices possess the combination of national security experience, bipartisan credentials, and experienced winning a key swing state that Webb brought to the table. But, Webb’s fellow Virginian, Governor Tim Kaine, has evidently made it onto Obama’s shortlist and he brings unique gifts to the table also.



I remember the first time I heard about Kaine. A writer for the Washington Post insisted that there was no way Kaine could win the governorship of the Old Dominion in 2005. “He is way too nice,” the writer intoned. “He may be the most decent man I have ever met in politics. Kilgore (Kaine’s opponent who had a reputation for conducting tough negative campaigns) will eat him alive.” But, sometimes good guys finish first and Kaine won by the surprisingly large margin of 52% to 46%.


Kaine’s predecessor was also a Democrat, Mark Warner. Warner had made a fortune in the computer business and ran as a problem solving entrepreneur. (Before the dot.com bubble burst, and the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst, Americans equated businessmen with competence.) Warner also used his wealth to buy a NASCAR team which burnished his good ol’ boy credentials. Kaine had no fortune and would look ridiculous pretending to be a Bubba.


What did permit Kaine to connect with the voters was his Catholicism, despite the fact that Virginia is a state where less than ten percent of the population is Catholic. Kaine’s campaign featured a part of his biography that did stand out from that of most politicians: while at Harvard Law School, he took a year off to work with the Jesuits on a mission in Honduras.  Kaine was comfortable discussing how his religious convictions helped lead him into public life. And he candidly admitted the difficulties on such issues as abortion and the death penalty, two issues where his oath of office would require him to uphold laws the Church and he both oppose. Instead of running from a discussion of how his faith and his politics combined and conflicted, a la John Kerry, Kaine embraced that discussion and he won it.


This quality – not his Catholicism per se, but his comfortability in discussing how his faith and his politics intertwine – make him an ideal choice for Obama’s running mate. Catholics are shaping up to be the decisive swing voters in this election, and even marginal help on that score could help. His lack of foreign policy experience is also becoming less important as the Iraqi government demands a timetable for withdrawal.


Kaine’s fluency in Spanish will help with Spanish-language media in key states like New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada as well. And, Virginia which was once known as the “Home of Presidents” having delivered America five of our first six chief magistrates, is itself a key swing state where Kaine’s popularity could prove decisive. Kaine is on the shortlist, and he should be.


Michael Sean Winters

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
10 years 9 months ago
I live in Virginia, and I really like Tim Kaine and voted from him several years ago. But I do not think he brings the needed ''gravatas'' to the ticket that Obama will need - plus Obama will need someone with national security credentials; something that Kaine does not possess. Also, at a state level Kaine has found it difficult to compromise with the state's republican controlled lower house - which, in my opinion, has everything to do with the state's slowing dying wingnut republican house majority, and not Kaine's willingness to compromise or find solutions. Still, this will be held againts Kaine if he steps in the VP spotlight... I too, was ''giddy'' with the thought of Jim Webb being Obama's VP choice, but apparently Mr. Webb is not up to the rigors of another brutal campaign.. My picks (in no particular order) Clinton Richardson Hagel Nunn


The latest from america

Join Kirsten Powers, CNN analyst and USA Today columnist, and Rev. James Martin, S.J., Editor at Large of America Media and New York Times best-selling author, for a live show celebrating the 100th episode of Jesuitical.
America Media EventsApril 24, 2019
Prayers for Our Lady. Photo by Melissa Vida.
The air was still thick with smoke and the ash burnt the eyes of the onlookers, who were relieved to see the cathedral still standing. For many Catholics, the coincidence of the blaze occurring at the start of Holy Week speaks of the greater mysteries of Easter.
Melissa VidaApril 19, 2019
"Hillary and Clinton"
In Hnath’s play, Hillary has put all her bets on competence, while Bill unsurprisingly presses her to show more humanity.
Rob Weinert-KendtApril 19, 2019
The day before this issue went to press, we watched on our newsroom monitors the devastating fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris.
Matt Malone, S.J.April 19, 2019