Why Sen. Tim Kaine is Hillary Clinton’s VP pick
S.C. Democrats say U.S. Tim Kaine passes the most important test for a vice presidential selection: If needed, he could step in as a strong commander in chief.
Those Democrats praised Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick – announced Friday, ahead of their party’s convention next week – as an experienced, steady hand whose resume strengthens the Democratic ticket.
“What it shows is that Secretary Clinton has put a lot of thought into the importance of a VP who is ready to become president at any time,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg. “Tim Kaine fits the bill on all fronts.”
Former Democratic S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges said he has known Kaine for about 10 years, calling the Virginian a “terrific choice” given his experience as mayor of Richmond, governor of his home state and a U.S. senator.
It does not hurt that Kaine is “affable,” speaks fluent Spanish and can help win over independent and moderate voters still on the fence, Hodges said.
“The old saying is: ‘He’s someone you’d want to have a beer with,’ ” Hodges said. “Absolutely.”
S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison called Kaine a “tremendous Democrat,” adding his addition solidifies the Democratic ticket as the reasonable alternative to GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“He’s a seasoned official and has the temperament and knowledge that ... America needs,” Harrison said. “We’re looking for the steady hand. We’re not looking for the bombastic personality, the fire and brimstone. I think that turns people off.”
Scott Buchanan, a political scientist at The Citadel, called Kaine’s pick “good politics.” Winning Virginia, a battleground state where Kaine is popular, would “considerably” boost Clinton’s chances of defeating Trump in November, he said.
Vice presidential candidates seldom matter in deciding elections, Buchanan said, adding the last major impact came in 1960, when vice presidential nominee Lyndon B. Johnson helped Democrat John F. Kennedy become president by carrying Texas.
“The running mate makes for good media coverage,” Buchanan said. “But, come November, the average voter is going to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. To a degree, the running mates are just along for the ride.”
S.C. GOP Chair Matt Moore called Kaine a “safe and uninspiring choice,” predicting the Virginian will have little impact on the November election.
“I doubt most Virginians and Americans can name anything he’s accomplished while in office,” Moore said.
Kaine himself has admitted he is “boring.”
But that is not a weakness, state Rep. Cobb-Hunter said.
“One of the things that we need to be clear about is when we are electing a president, a vice president it’s not about how bombastic they are,” she said. “We see examples of that on the other side. We need a president with the right temperament, a vice president with the right temperament.”
Former S.C. state Rep. Bakari Sellers, a commentator for CNN, said Kaine would help win over rural white voters.
The Bamberg Democrat also predicted Kaine easily will handle Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence in their debate.
“He’ll destroy Mike Pence,” Sellers said. “Mike Pence is ‘meh.’ ”
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, said Thursday he had given input to Clinton and her campaign on the vice presidential selection, adding he liked all of the finalists.
Those finalists reportedly were Kaine, U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa.
Clyburn praised Kaine’s experience and ability to capably ascend to the presidency.
“I’ve had more experience with Tim Kaine than any one of the three (finalists),” Clyburn said.