Senator Tim Kaine, accompanied by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, speaks in Miami. Photo / AP
A Democratic presidential nominee with a résumé rich in foreign
policy has just chosen a running-mate with a résumé rich in foreign
Hillary Clinton’s choice, first-term Virginia Senator Tim
Kaine, serves on the Senate’s Foreign Relations and Armed Services
committees and has emerged as a leading liberal voice on national
He’s best-known for waging a relentless and at times
lonely campaign against the White House’s ability to use military force
against Isis (Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria without explicit
The Harvard-trained lawyer also
happens to have been a Mayor of Richmond, Governor of Virginia, a key
battleground state, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
is fluent in Spanish from his time as a Catholic missionary in Honduras
and has been through all of this before, vetted but not ultimately
chosen by the Democratic Party’s then-nominee Barack Obama in 2008.
The pick isn’t without risk. Like Clinton, many progressives
believe Kaine is too close to Wall Street. While Kaine supports the
Dodd-Frank legislation that imposes major regulations on the financial
industry, he also was one of 70 senators to recently sign a letter to
the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asking for looser regulations
on regional banks and credit unions.
A devout Catholic, he’s also
said that he’s personally opposed to abortion, which has alarmed some
pro-choice advocates even though he has a long record of supporting
Kaine describes himself as “boring” – a quality
Clinton says she “loves about him” – and doesn’t bring the excitement
that would have come from choosing a second woman, like Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren, or a Hispanic figure like Labour Secretary Tom
Clinton’s calculus appears to be that he can help deliver
Virginia, a vital battleground state, and reinforce her primary line of
attack against GOP nominee Donald Trump: that he is too dangerous to be
On Friday, for instance, Kaine said he was
“stunned” by Trump’s recent suggestion that he wouldn’t necessarily
defend Nato allies from Russia as required under the decades-old
military pact. Kaine said the GOP nominee’s remarks were “very, very
“When you say to an ally – who you have a treaty
obligation to defend – ‘Eh, we’re not sure we will,’ that is a very,
very dangerous thing,” the senator told reporters. “We have American men
and women spread throughout those countries right now in service who
are there and are at risk.”
In an interview this northern spring,
Kaine accused Trump of regularly insulting the US military, and said
the businessman and reality TV star was “someone who wants to be
commander-in-chief [and] who says the American military is a disaster”.
Kaine may do little to placate the progressive Democrats who flocked to
Bernie Sanders, some of whom have pledged to protest Clinton during the
Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week.
Kaine’s stances on abortion and financial regulation, he also supports
the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which emerged as a major wedge issue in
both the Democratic and Republican primaries.
Sanders forced the
former Secretary of State into opposing the international trade deal she
once supported during the campaign, arguing – as Trump trumpeted over
and over at the Republican convention this week – that it will cost
These are two problems that are connected, and you can’t have a strategy that’s just about one
the same time, he is no dove. Kaine argues, as Clinton now does, that
the US should have intervened more aggressively when the Syrian civil
war erupted more than five years ago.
Like Clinton, he has broken
with the White House and supports the creation of a no-fly zone over
rebel-held parts of Syria. In a December Senate Armed Services Committee
hearing, Kaine said “the absence of the humanitarian zone [in Syria]
will go down as one of the big mistakes that we’ve made,” comparing it
to President Bill Clinton’s hesitance to intervene in Rwanda in the
Kaine has also argued that the White House lacks a plan
for ousting Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and has instead focused too
much attention on the fight against Isis.
“There’s a desire to defeat [Isis] . . . but there hasn’t been a clear strategy vis-à-vis Assad,” he told NPR in October 2015. “These are two problems that are connected, and you can’t have a strategy that’s just about one.”
broadly, Kaine has criticised what unnamed administration aides have
described as one of Obama’s core foreign-policy beliefs.
do stupid stuff.’ That’s not a big enough doctrine,” Kaine said. “You
are also often not doing stuff that’s stupid not to do.”
wasn’t the only national security figure Clinton was considering, a sign
of the importance she places on the issue substantively and as a line
of attack against Trump.