As the Democratic National Convention nears, the superior choice for Hillary Clinton's 2016 running mate is becoming clearer. Compared to six other probable options, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is the safest and most strategic contender for the spot of vice president.
Clinton, one of the most experienced politicians in Washington, needs a running mate who has years of political involvement. He or she must understand Clinton’s background, viewpoints, and history, as they have greatly affected her political decisions and policy proposals.
Kaine has a vast history of political experience. Before becoming a senator, he served as the Mayor of Richmond and the Governor of Virginia. Only 19 other Americans have served as a mayor, governor, and senator in a single lifetime. That level of experience gives Kaine an advantage not only in Clinton’s eyes, but in the eyes of voters, as well.
A Politico poll revealed that Kaine was the most preferred choice for VP among Democratic voters. An overwhelming 33 percent of Democrat respondents said that Clinton should choose Kaine. Tom Vilsack and Elizabeth Warren tied for the next most preferred candidate, each earning 11.5 percent of the surveyed Democrats’ support.
Despite similarities to Clinton, Kaine’s greatest strength could be the way that his personality balances Clinton’s.
Clinton has earned a reputation as an aggressive, outspoken female on Capitol Hill. From taking more initiative as the first lady than any in the past to becoming the first woman to make it so far in the presidential campaigning process, Clinton has always been a strong female voice that the media has critiqued for being pushy and overly ambitious.
Kaine is the polar opposite. Unlike other VP contenders, such as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack or Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Kaine has not spent extensive amounts of time in the media spotlight. His biography, which can be found on his webpage, says that “Tim loves reading, being outdoors and playing harmonica with bluegrass bands throughout Virginia.”
The media presents him as a calm man from Virginia. Unlike Senator Elizabeth Warren, described by The Washington Post as a “liberal firebird,” Kaine’s personality balances the media’s perception of Clinton. The contrast he presents would be a welcomed addition to the Democratic ticket.
Kaine is a more moderate Democrat than Clinton’s other options. Choosing him as a running mate could be a very timely and strategic move on Clinton’s part.
Many long-time Republican voters do not want to vote for Donald Trump, who is now the official 2016 GOP nominee.
Doug Elmets, former White House staffer and current member of the Republican Party, told CNN News, “I've never voted for a Democrat in my entire life. And I'll vote for my first Democrat when the ballots come out in November," adding that he would rather call Clinton his president for four years than Trump his president for one day.
Conservative voters with a similar distaste for Trump but less conviction than Elmets may view Kaine’s moderate tendencies as an invitation to vote for the Democratic ticket in November. Clinton would be wise to take these voters into account when deciding on her choice for VP.
What about the former Sanders followers?
It may be hard to think of Clinton strategizing her pick for VP around Republicans when one of her greatest concerns has been garnering the support of the extremely left-winged voters who advocated strongly for Bernie Sanders in the primaries.
The solution, once again, rests in choosing Kaine as a running mate.
Kaine was first known, politically speaking, for his efforts to increase affordable housing in Richmond. He has also kept an intense focus on climate change throughout his time in various leadership positions in the state. Finally, Kaine has close ties to education in America, as his wife serves as the Virginia Secretary of Education.
So does Kaine win the ultra-liberal vote as well? Absolutely.
Kaine appeals to all of Clinton’s potential voters. His contrasting personality may even be enough to convince anti-Clinton fanatics to vote for the Democratic ticket by the time November rolls around.
Furthermore, since his first successful election into the spot of city council member, Kaine has never lost a political race.
Whether for superstitious, strategic, or preferential reasons, Clinton’s best choice for a running mate is, without question, Tim Kaine.