Clinton and Kaine, preparing to govern

A report from the New York Times notes that Clinton’s pick of Kaine means that she is looking to govern rather than campaign.

It opens “In selecting Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate, Hillary Clinton is sending the clearest signal yet that she is confident she will win the presidential election. If she were worried, she would have chosen Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who could have helped her win that critical Midwestern state — where she is now tied with Donald J. Trump. And Mr. Brown could have energized progressives nationally, who were far more enthusiastic about Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont than they have been about Mrs. Clinton. Other picks could have helped her more on Election Day. Former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, for instance, would have turned out Democrats and independents in his swing state. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey would have galvanized fellow African-Americans in key cities like Philadelphia and Detroit. Tom Perez, labour secretary, and Julian Castro, housing secretary, might have boosted Hispanic voting in Florida and the West. Mr. Kaine, by contrast, doesn’t bring obvious political rewards. Mrs. Clinton is likely to win his home state of Virginia in any case. The members of his natural demographic — white men — aren’t going to forget their problems with Mrs. Clinton just because Mr. Kaine is on the ticket. And he isn’t a break-up-the-big-banks liberal who will bring home the left wing of the party”.

Crucially the piece notes that “His value is almost entirely about governing — about what he can do for Mrs. Clinton in the White House rather than at the ballot box. To that end, the pick is deeply revealing about how she sees the general election and how she would govern as president. Mrs. Clinton is showing her cards: In her view, she already has a straight flush heading into the fall with President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts ready to campaign for her. She doesn’t think she needs an ace in the hole in November, according to Clinton advisers. Mr. Kaine’s chief job in the general election is to win the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 4 — it happens to be in Virginia — against his Republican counterpart, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. Mr. Kaine and Mr. Pence are both solid debaters, but Mr. Kaine is more natural as an attack dog, a quality that Mrs. Clinton prizes. And as a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Services Committee, he is well suited to highlighting Mr. Trump’s knowledge deficits on world affairs”.

Naturally it notes that “Clinton herself is more popular than Mr. Trump with women, Hispanics, African-Americans and immigrants, which gives her some assurance that she can carry these voters without any particular help from her running mate, her advisers say. She is optimistic that because Mr. Trump is so divisive, she has no reason to fear him in traditionally Democratic states. She is investing far more money than the Trump campaign in voter turnout operations in battleground states, as well as spending far more on television commercials”.

The article goes on to discuss how Clinton and Kaine hold similar views on policy and style, “Kaine is a strong advocate of gun control, opposes the death penalty and favoured the Iran nuclear deal. He has also backed some restrictions on abortion and is a strong supporter of Israel. While he holds many progressive views, the fact that he does not come across as a fire-breathing partisan has helped give him a reputation as a moderate. He comes across like the nuts-and-bolts governor and mayor he once was — perhaps even a little boring — but it’s a style and approach to governing that won’t upstage Mrs. Clinton. “Tim is a sensible and pragmatic guy whose presence on the ticket will be very reassuring to centrist Democrats,” said Steven Rattner, a Wall Street financier and longtime ally of the Clintons. That won’t be so reassuring for supporters of Mr. Sanders, however. Mr. Kaine has supported free trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton’s top rival for the Democratic nomination, and other liberals regard as job and wage killers. Mr. Kaine hasn’t been an outspoken champion for the extensive overhauls of banking and Wall Street regulations that Mr. Sanders wants, nor has he been an advocate for sharply raising taxes on the wealthy”.

The report goes on to mention how “Democrats close to Mr. Sanders, who has already endorsed Mrs. Clinton, say they do not expect him to lead a revolt against Mr. Kaine, who the Vermont senator has called “a very decent guy.” Clinton advisers say they are hopeful that Mr. Kaine will win over more progressives with his stand on guns and his lines of attack against Mr. Trump. They also say that picking Mr. Brown, or even Ms. Warren, was problematic because Republican governors would have filled those seats, hurting Democratic chances of retaking the Senate. Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, will replace Mr. Kaine if he and Mrs. Clinton win”.

Interestingly the piece goes onto note how Kaine does not have a significant ego, “Among Democrats who know him well, Mr. Kaine is considered a self-effacing workhorse who shuns the spotlight and prefers digging into domestic policy and national security rather than showboating on Sunday news programs. Mrs. Clinton sees herself in much the same way. Unlike some of his rivals for the ticket, he is widely viewed by colleagues as fully capable of being president — Mrs. Clinton’s top criterion for a running mate. Mrs. Clinton also wants a vice president who acts as a sounding board for her, as Mr. Biden did for Mr. Obama and Al Gore for her husband, and can handle any task, domestic or foreign. Given his decades of experience in government and politics, Mr. Kaine wouldn’t face much of a learning curve as No. 2 to Mrs. Clinton, who is itching to dive into work after Inauguration Day. He is a strong advocate of comprehensive immigration reform and a fluent Spanish speaker, which she thinks could make him a valuable emissary on the issue with voters and former Senate colleagues. Mr. Kaine has a down-to-earth style, and drew praise for his response to the mass shooting on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007. He also received high marks when he delivered strongly bipartisan message in response to President Bush’s State of the Union address in 2006. Mrs. Clinton, with her reputation for partisanship and unpopularity with Republicans, was eager for a governing partner who would help reach out to the other party”.

The piece goes on to mention how Kaine and Bill Clinton get on well together, “Mrs. Clinton also wants a vice president who would have a good relationship with Mr. Clinton, especially since the two-term president would likely have some sort of policy role and be an outside presence in the White House. Mrs. Clinton remembers her rivalry with Mr. Gore during the first two years of the Clinton administration and wants to avoid distractions like tension between Mr. Kaine and Mr. Clinton. So far the signs are good: Mr. Clinton strongly supported the choice of Mr. Kaine, Clinton advisers say, and the two share similar policy views and were governors of Southern states”.
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