After months of speculation, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has announced her running mate, and her choice might just bring her to the White House.
Hillary Clinton may have already won the American presidential election. On 22 July 2016, the former Secretary of State chose Tim Kaine, a politician with an impressive CV, to run with her for the rest of the election. Although many of the voters may not know who Kaine is (he has received much less media publicity than either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders), he will serve as a valuable tool to bring votes to the Democratic nominee.
Tim Kaine will aid Clinton in three ways. Firstly, the former governor will increase Clinton’s chances of winning Kaine’s home turf. Virginia is nationally recognised as a swing-state – it can be won by either party and hosts a valuable 13 electoral votes to whoever wins the south-eastern state. As in previous elections, many political pundits predict that if Clinton wants to live in the White House once again she must win as many swing states as possible; Kaine ensures at least one is under her belt.
The only thing that is more important than the swing states are the voters, especially the Latino and African-American voters, the fastest growing demographics. In February, the Pew Research Center issued a report stating that “Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other minorities had a net increase of 7.5 million eligible voters, compared with a net increase of 3.2 million among non-Hispanic white eligible voters.” While Hillary Clinton is confident amongst African-Americans, Latino voters have been wary of her. By choosing Kaine as her vice presidential nominee, she shows that she wants to secure that demographic when November comes around. Kaine speaks fluent Spanish and will be utilising his bilingual ability to reach out to Latino voters, a key advantage against Donald Trump’s controversial rhetoric regarding immigration.
Kaine is also no foreigner to politics, having served as a mayor, governor, and senator in Virginia. To many Democrats, Kaine is a safe, stable choice for Clinton and one who will help her govern if she becomes the next president. Kaine also serves as a direct opposite of Trump in terms of demeanour; rather than being outspoken and unpredictable, Kaine has called himself “boring” and is not one to bask himself in the media spotlight. While some may argue that Governor Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s VP nominee, is dull as well, Pence has been involved in more controversial stories than the longtime Democrat. Kaine, in other words, has hidden under the rug, and that will benefit the Clinton campaign.
Yet, Kaine’s choice is not without its dangers. Throughout the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, a socialist from Vermont, attracted young voters with his progressive outlook in American politics. He offered a different course to his Democratic establishment counterpart. The Democratic primary, in short, consisted of progressives versus the mainstream establishment. In the end, the establishment won and the progressive candidate endorsed the very person he fought more than a year against. Many progressives, after watching Sanders join Clinton, hoped that Clinton would pick a progressive VP nominee. While Kaine’s political history is impressive, his extensive political experience in various offices shows him to be an establishment politician – the exact type that might turn off the 12 million who voted for the senator from Vermont.
“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, Tim Kaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others.”
– Hillary Clinton
It is also likely that Clinton will be criticised for her choice of Kaine due to his inconsistent record on social issues. The Democratic Party is well-known for its public defence of abortions; Kaine has said that he is personally against abortions but respects a woman’s right to choose – a mixed approach that has left Democrats worried. Regardless of his stance on abortion, Kaine’s flexibility on the political scene might benefit Clinton. The Virginia senator is well-liked by Republicans and is known for reaching across the aisle, connecting to both Democrats and Republicans. This will make Kaine difficult to attack. Yet no matter Kaine’s affinity with Republicans, Clinton’s reputation amongst Republicans remains an issue. By pairing with her, the two-party recognition will fade away for the 58-year-old senator.
I Kaine, I Saw, I Conquered
Hillary Clinton chose a strong candidate for vice president. Tim Kaine offers an election advantage that the Trump campaign cannot grasp, a wealth of experience that will bolster the Democratic Party, and a positive public image that the Clinton campaign has been lacking for the past several months. Although many progressives take umbrage to Clinton and Kaine, they will have to choose between Clinton and Trump. When the young Democrats compare Kaine to the potential of a Trump presidency, their criticism will die down and they will back Clinton. Although many Sanders’ supporters have declared their unwavering support to the progressive candidate, Kaine will be able to seal their votes through his progressive actions in the past. Clinton will point to Kaine’s strong civil rights record, his opposition to the death penalty, and his push for gun control as a means to persuade progressives who are on the edge. If Clinton wins in November, Kaine will be the next vice president and a nominee that helped Clinton reach presidential success.