Who is Tim Kaine? 5 Things to Know About Hillary Clinton’s VP Nominee

On Friday afternoon, presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced her vice presidential running mate: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

The tap comes just days before the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which begins in Philadelphia Monday night, and may take some of the bounce out of the just-completed Republican National Convention’s four-day roasting of Clinton.

Kaine, a white, 58-year-old man who speaks fluent Spanish and is generally uncontroversial, is widely seen as the safest choice for Clinton.

So who is Kaine? Get to know the man who may, if Clinton wins in November, be one heartbeat away from the presidency:

1. Has Tim Kaine been a governor?

Like Donald Trump’s VP choice, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Kaine has experience both in the executive seat and as a legislator.

Kaine was the lieutenant governor of Virginia from 2001 through 2005 and governor of that state from 2006 to 2010, after winning the election by a 6-point margin.

Virginia governors are barred from running for back-to-back terms, so Kaine ran for, and was elected to, the U.S. Senate in 2012.

FAIRFAX, VA - SEPTEMBER 25: U.S. Senate Democratic candidate and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine tours the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station 40 September 25, 2012 in Fairfax, Virginia. The International Association of Fire Fighters union announced its endorsement of Kaine in his race against another former Virginia governor and former U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Popularity-wise, Kaine is underwater. The Washington Post reported his approval rating is 44%, with 31% disapproving and 25% not sure.

2. Is Tim Kaine a Liberal?

Although he is a reliable Democratic vote, Kaine casts himself as a moderate rather than a liberal.

The senator did serve as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2009, stepping down in 2011, but he worries some liberal groups.

Although he doesn’t support overturning Roe v. Wade, Kaine is personally opposed to abortion and has backed a ban on late-term abortions while supporting parental notification laws for underage girls seeking abortions.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 26: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) listens to testimony during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing concerning cartels and the U.S. heroin epidemic, on Capitol Hill, May 26, 2016, in Washington, DC. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2002 to 2013 the rate of heroin-related deaths quadrupled in the United States, with most of the increase coming after 2010. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Image Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Still, as a senator, Kaine has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Kaine is also an advocate of the North American Free Trade Agreement and voted in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal Clinton helped negotiate as Secretary of State but has rejected as a presidential candidate.

3. Has Tim Kaine been considered for vice president before?

While he was governor in February 2007, Kaine became the first statewide elected Democrat outside Illinois to endorse then-Sen. Barack Obama over Clinton, despite the fact that she was the front-runner in the primary race.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) applauds as U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Obama was expected to lay out a broad agenda to including attempts to address income inequality and making it easier for Americans to afford college education and child care. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kaine applauds during President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union. Image Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Obama considered Kaine as a VP choice, but worried about his lack of foreign policy experience and decided to pass him over.

When he began serving in the Senate, Kaine immediately joined the armed services and foreign relations committees to make up the experience.

4. Is Tim Kaine a Christian?

When he campaigned for governor, Kaine presented himself as motivated by his family and his Catholic faith.

While attending Harvard Law School, Kaine took a year off to work with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. He ran a vocational school for teenage boys and learned Spanish over the year.

In an interview with C-SPAN, Kaine said his parents were so devout:

“If we got back from a vacation on a Sunday night at 7:30 p.m., they would know the one church in Kansas City that had an 8 p.m. Mass that we can make.”

At the same time, Kaine has repeatedly told voters that his faith will not interfere with the law.

5. Is Tim Kaine a corrupt or controversial choice?

Kaine has a history to back up his nice-guy reputation.

When 23-year-old Seung-Hui Cho carried out the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting during a French class that left 32 dead, Collin Goddard was one of the survivors.

US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally with US Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia, July 14, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Image Credit: Saul Loeb/Getty Images

At the time, then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was in Japan on a trade mission. When he learned the news, just five hours after arriving in Tokyo, he flew immediately back to Virginia and was the first public official, elected or otherwise, to visit Goddard in the hospital.

Professionally, Kaine is scandal-free.

During his time in the executive office as both governor and lieutenant governor, Kaine accepted $160,000 in gifts, all of which was declared publicly and is below the Virginia legal limit.

Legendary Democratic political consultant, Dave “Mudcat” Saunders told The Washington Post:

“The boy is cleaner than the board of health. If it’s one thing Hillary needs, it’s clean.”

For his part, Kaine recently described himself this way:

“I am boring. But boring is the fastest-growing demographic in this country.”

“Boring,” non-controversial, and politically moderate — that’s counter to the entire 2016 campaign so far, but it may be exactly what Clinton needs to secure the nomination.

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