Clinton chooses Sen. Tim Kaine as running mate
TAMPA, Florida (AP) – Hillary Clinton named Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate Friday, adding a centrist former governor of a crucial battleground state to the Democratic ticket.
In a text message to supporters, the presumptive Democratic nominee said, “I’m thrilled to tell you this first: I’ve chosen Sen. Tim Kaine as my running mate.”
On Twitter a few seconds later, Clinton described Kaine as “a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others.”
Kaine tweeted, “I’m honored to be her running mate.” The two will make their first appearance together as running mates today at a rally in Miami.
Clinton’s decision caps a highly secretive, months-long process to find a political partner. It’s also the final puzzle piece for the general election, pitting Clinton and Kaine against Republican Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence, the Indiana governor.
Clinton called Kaine around 7:30 p.m. Friday to offer him the job, and he accepted, according to a campaign aide. She then called President Barack Obama to inform him of the decision.
Kaine, 58, long had been a favorite for Clinton’s ticket. Active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs, he built a reputation for working across the aisle as Virginia’s governor and as mayor of Richmond. He’s also fluent in Spanish, which could help the campaign appeal to many Hispanic Americans who have been turned off by Trump’s harsh rhetoric about immigrants.
Clinton was weighing two finalists: Kaine and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a longtime friend of the candidate and former President Bill Clinton. Kaine’s strong ties to politically important Virginia, as well as his foreign policy experience put him over the top, according to a person close to the campaign, who insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the process publicly.
Kaine and Vilsack each had friends and allies lobbying the Clinton campaign on their behalf. But Kaine had a particularly powerful backer: Obama, who told the campaign during the selection process that he believed Kaine would be a strong choice.
Trump, in a text to supporters, said Obama, Hillary and Kaine were “the ultimate insiders” and implored voters to not “let Obama have a 3rd term.”
Kaine is viewed skeptically by some liberals in the Democratic Party, who dislike his support of free trade and Wall Street. They pushed Clinton to pick Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, intensifying their criticism of Kaine late this week as his selection appeared imminent.