Pros and Cons: Tim Kaine as Barack Obama’s Running Mate

Jul 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia has shot to the top of the speculated Obama VP shortlist, so in this edition of Pros and Cons, we’ll take a look at Kaine’s resume, and what he could bring to a potential ticket with Obama.

Resume: Tim Kaine was born in Minnesota, but he grew up outside of Kansas City, MO. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 1979. He attended Harvard Law School, but took a year off to go to Honduras to work with the Jesuit order as Roman Catholic missionary. He graduated from Harvard law in 1983, was admitted to the Virginia bar, and practiced law in the state for 17 years.

In 1994, he was elected to the city council in Richmond, VA. The city council elected him mayor in 1998. As mayor, Kaine was most known for helping to create and implement the gun law called Project Exile. Kaine was elected Lt. Governor of Virginia in November 2001, by a margin of 50%-48%. Since Virginia limits it’s governors to one consecutive term, Mark Warner could not run for a second term, so Kaine ran and closely associated himself with the wildly popular Warner. He won the 2005 election 52%-46%.

As Governor Kaine has had to deal with budget deficits, and also opposed a state constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. He signed an executive order banning smoking in all government buildings and cars. In 2006, Kaine announced a plan to conserve 400,000 acres of Virginia land from real estate development.

He opposes capital punishment, and says that he has a faith based opposition to abortion. Kaine is a member of Democrats for life. The most recent approval rating for Kaine is 56%. He is popular with moderates, and those who attend religious services. He was also one of Barack Obama’s earliest supporters, and the first governor to endorse Obama.

Pros to Obama Picking Kaine: The biggest pro to Obama picking Kaine is that he is the Governor of Virginia, which is a red state that is already trending Democratic that the Obama campaign seems hell bent to flip. Kaine is a fluent Spanish speaker who would help the ticket connect with Hispanic voters. As a Roman-Catholic, he would help Obama with a voting bloc that he has struggled mightily with.

As a pro-life Democrat, he might help with anti-abortion voters who aren’t that enthused about McCain. Kaine was elected governor on the strength of his performance in several conservative areas of the state, so the Obama campaign might hope that by choosing Kaine they can appeal to those conservative white Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton, and have been very slow to get behind Obama.

Cons to Obama Picking Kaine: Kaine has a thin resume, and very limited political experience. He has only been a governor of two plus years, and his time as governor has been fairly non descript. He does not have foreign policy or military experience. In fact, he seems to lack expertise in any one policy area. Kaine isn’t even the biggest Democratic star in his state that would be Mark Warner.

Kaine is a relative unknown outside of his state, and his appeal might be limited to Virginia. A pro-life Democratic running mate would not play well with most Obama supporters, and also many in the Democratic Party. Many of Kaine’s positions are moderate, or more conservative than Obama’s. There could be a problem meshing the moderate Kaine and the liberal Obama on the same ticket.

Odds of Obama Picking Kaine: The odds are very good that Obama will pick Kaine, who seems to be on the short short list. I have to confess that I don’t understand the Obama campaign’s fascination with Kaine. My best guess is that after Mark Warner and Jim Webb both turned them down, they see Kaine as their last best chance at winning Virginia.

The Choice-O-Meter Says:

OOOOOOOO (8 O’s for Tim Kaine)

1 O = No Chance – 10 Os = A Sure Thing

Other Shortlist Pros and Cons:

Evan Bayh

Joe Biden

Kathleen Sebelius

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