6 things to know about Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine speaks at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center on July 31, 2016.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine speaks at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center on July 31, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine was widely seen as a safe choice to be Mrs Hillary Clinton's running mate in a brutal election race. Mr Kaine, 58, himself jokes that he is "boring", a quality that helped him emerge as the frontrunner for the post because he ticks so many boxes. Here are six things to know about Mr Kaine.

1) He has never lost an election in which he was on the ballot

Mr Kaine has been a governor, a senator and even chairman of the Democratic National Convention in a political career that has seen his national profile steadily rise.

Throughout that two-decade career, the father of three has also developed a reputation as a nice guy, a rare commodity in the cut-and- thrust world of politics.

He's had some luck along the way: he won his Senate seat four years ago when incumbent Jim Webb, a first-term senator, did not seek re-election.

2) He was in contention to be current US President Barack Obama's running mate in 2008

Mr Kaine was governor of Virginia in 2008 and was among the first Democratic governors to support Mr Obama in his tightly fought presidential primary race against Mrs Clinton. Until that point, he was considered a Clinton loyalist by former president Bill Clinton, who took it as a personal betrayal when Mr Kaine jumped on the Obama bandwagon.

3) His son is a US Marine

Mr Kaine's son Nat is a Marine, which makes him one of just a few members of Congress that have a child serving in the military. He has focused on military and foreign policy in Congress, serving on the Senate Amerd Services Committee,

 

perhaps as a result of his son's military experience.

 

He has criticised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's comments that the military was a "disaster", asserting that "we ought to have a commander in chief who talks about our troops with respect and gratitude."

4) He is a Catholic who has served as a missionary

Like his Republican rival Mr Mike Pence, Mr Kaine has Irish roots and was raised Catholic. He had his faith forged when, during law school, he went to Honduras and served as a missionary for the Jesuits, reported The New York Times. It was there that he embraced a brand of liberation theology centred on social justice that would eventually be one of the forces propelling him into government.

Early in his political career, Mr. Kaine's style of Catholicism made him uneasy with some elements of the Democratic Party, particularly on issues like abortion rights and same-sex marriage. While he has since shifted on those issues to accommodate his party - and his running mate - he remains unapologetic about how important his faith is to his career in public service.

5) He speaks Spanish fluently

Thanks to his time in Honduras, Kaine is a fluent Spanish speaker. After winning his Senate seat in 2012, he became the first US senator to deliver a speech from the Senate floor in Spanish.

On the campaign trail, Mr Kaine has led chants of "Yes, we can" in Spanish and has also been s been teaching crowds how to say "Ready for Hillary" in Spanish.

6) He plays the harmonica

Mr Kaine reportedly likes jazz and sings and plays the harmonica. His band is called the Jugbusters.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Mr Kaine joked that his harmonica is actually a safety net. "In politics you've got to have a fallback in our line of work because your career can be over in an instant," Mr Kaine said. "Not that I would make much money playing a harmonica."

He has played the instrument for over two decades, and has been known to make appearances with it on and off the campaign trail.