Tim Kaine isn’t just with her — the Virginia senator will also be on Hillary Clinton’s ticket, her campaign announced Friday evening.
While Kaine’s selection ends a months-long process for the Clinton campaign, his consideration for the vice presidency has been eight years in the making. He was an early endorser of Barack Obama in 2008 and was a top contender on Obama’s shortlist.
Similarly, Kaine was “Ready for Hillary” even before the now-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had launched her campaign, having endorsed Clinton nearly a year before she entered the race last April. Now, he’s ready for the White House.
“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @timkaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others. –H,” Clinton said in a tweet to supporters. She also alerted her followers by text, keeping the campaign’s promise to share the news “first with those who’ve been by Hillary’s side the longest.”
About a half-hour after the news broke, Kaine said he was “honored” to join the ticket and couldn’t wait to campaign.
“Just got off the phone with Hillary,” he wrote. “I’m honored to be her running mate. Can’t wait to hit the trail tomorrow in Miami!”
Clinton hailed Kaine in an email to supporters as “a lifelong fighter for progressive causes and one of the most qualified vice presidential candidates in our nation’s history.”
“I have no doubt that Tim can do the job,” she said. “I want him by my side on the trail and in the White House.”
Media reports had pointed to Kaine as the front-runner, speculation further fueled Friday morning with a tweet coming from Clinton’s grass-roots organizing team in the battleground state Kaine represents.
Clinton’s campaign, however, had maintained that the former secretary of state hadn’t finalized her decision — until the text message was blasted to supporters’ phones.
Trump argued Friday morning that Clinton’s imminent declaration was to distract from the “tremendous success” of the four-day Republican National Convention.
“Hillary’s trying to pick her vice president as fast as possible because she wants to take away a little of the success that we had at this convention,” he said, addressing volunteers in Cleveland one day after accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Clinton later called the GOP convention “perversely flattering” and derided its speakers for spending “so much time talking about me.” But the former secretary of state’s veep announcement was delayed — likely due to the news of a terrorist attack in Munich, Germany, that killed at least 10 people.
But in a text to his own supporters Friday evening, Trump called Kaine, Clinton and Obama the “ultimate insiders” and warned against a third Obama term.
“The ultimate insiders – Obama, Hillary, and Kaine,” the text message said. “Don’t let Obama have a 3rd Term.”
Conventional wisdom suggested Kaine, a Spanish-speaking lawmaker with executive and leadership experience as a former Richmond mayor, lieutenant governor, governor and DNC chair, would emerge as the vice presidential nominee.
He was considered a safe but boring pick. Kaine serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations panels in the Senate and is the type of candidate who is unlikely to hurt the ticket with controversial stands or painful gaffes. And his selection would allow Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to name his temporary replacement for the Senate.
His selection drew praise from Democrats and even some Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid described Kaine as “a leading voice in navigating the toughest international issues of our time” and a man who brings “exceptional foreign and domestic policy experience” to the ticket.
“The Clinton-Kaine ticket is everything the Trump-Pence ticket is not: competent, steady and committed to giving all Americans a fair shot to succeed,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) congratulated Kaine after joking that he drew a blank trying to tally how much he hates his Senate colleague.
“Congrats to a good man and a good friend,” he tweeted.
Kaine, however, did come under fire this week from progressives for supporting loosening regulations on banks. He’s also personally against abortion and has moderate positions on trade and financial regulations. And he lacks the star power of someone like progressive darling Elizabeth Warren — which is likely a plus for the campaign since his addition to the ticket doesn’t threaten to take the spotlight off Clinton.
Kaine was at a Boston fundraiser Friday afternoon and attended another one in Rhode Island later Friday. But he declined to engage when asked whether he had spoken to Clinton.
“No news to report,” Kaine told CNN, smiling toward the camera as he walked off after signing baseballs inside an airport.
Kaine told reporters Thursday he was “glad the waiting game” was almost over.
“Having been through this once before, I kind of know what the rhythm of it is,” he said of his VP prospects Thursday. “There’s a day when there will be an answer.”
That day came Friday — after Clinton participated in a roundtable in Orlando and a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa in the afternoon. Clinton is expected to roll out her new running mate on Saturday at a rally at Florida International University in Miami. The university has a 60 percent Hispanic population
Clinton’s campaign sought to capitalize on Trump’s bungled veep rollout by highlighting the billionaire’s shortcomings and avoiding similar mistakes. The real estate mogul announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate in a tweet last week, and the two appeared together last Saturday at the New York Hilton Midtown behind Trump’s “Make America Great Again”-branded lectern in lieu of the widely mocked Trump-Pence logo that had appeared in a joint fundraising email. Trump also dominated the mic, speaking for roughly 30 minutes while Pence spoke for about 12 minutes. And a leaked report suggested Trump had confronted aides about getting out of his pick before the official rollout.
In contrast, Clinton’s campaign stressed earlier this week that there would be no “accidental tweets or leaks to the press” regarding her VP. What’s more, Clinton will introduce her running mate in Florida, a swing state where, according to POLITICO’s Battleground States Project, Clinton narrowly leads Trump, 43.6 percent to 41.8 percent.
Kaine’s fluency in Spanish, which came as a result of his missionary work in Honduras, can help Clinton appeal to the Hispanic community, a key voting bloc that Trump has continually alienated by attacking a federal judge over his Mexican heritage, celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a taco bowl tweet while proclaiming his love for Hispanics, threatening to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and pledging to build a wall on the southern border that he has insisted Mexico will pay for, to name a few.
The pair first appeared at a joint rally together last week in Northern Virginia, where an unusually energized Kaine tore into Trump in what was viewed as his veep audition.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had emerged in recent days as another serious contender, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker reportedly rounded out the top tier of Clinton’s short list.
Warren, the liberal firebrand, had all but crossed herself off the list on Thursday, though, dashing hopes of a historic two-woman ticket.
“Stephen, I think if it were me, I would know it by now,” the Massachusetts senator told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. “So probably not. But look, she’s got lots of good choices and I’m excited about seeing who she’s going to pick.”
Vilsack had cited the Hatch Act on Thursday when asked about the VP speculation, telling reporters who were covering a town hall meeting on opioid abuse that “it basically prohibits me from answering that question.”
Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, appeared on Clinton’s Snapchat account on Thursday, as well as a news conference with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to condemn Trump’s rhetoric.
In an interview later with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the New Jersey senator said he didn’t know who Clinton’s running mate would be, but “the great thing about it is she has tremendous choices. They’re really quality people within our party.”
Obama administration officials Julian Castro, the Housing and Urban Development secretary, and Tom Perez, the Labor secretary, would have been the first Hispanic vice presidential candidate of a major party. But reports suggested the two lacked the experience Clinton sought in a No. 2.
The White House extolled Clinton’s choices from Obama’s Cabinet this week. And, in perhaps what was another telling sign, praised Kaine unprompted.
“You didn’t ask me about Sen. Kaine,” press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday to radio host Bill Press, who responded that the Virginia senator is not a member of the administration.
“That is true, but he is somebody who is the subject of some rather intense public speculation about serving,” Earnest said, adding, “Sen. Kaine is somebody that the president deeply respects, and, I think, it’s been publicly reported was even considered himself as a running mate back in 2008.”
Clinton and Kaine will officially be nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates during the Democratic National Convention next week in Philadelphia.