US Elections 2016

Kaine's pro-TPP stance may hurt Clinton

Mrs Clinton and Mr Kaine at a campaign rally in Miami, Florida, on Saturday, where the latter made his debut appearance as the Democratic presidential candidate's running mate.
Mrs Clinton and Mr Kaine at a campaign rally in Miami, Florida, on Saturday, where the latter made his debut appearance as the Democratic presidential candidate's running mate.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • Calling him a "progressive who likes to get things done", Mrs Hillary Clinton debuted her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, to boisterous and bilingual cheers. Some liberal Democrats, however, began making clear that they were disappointed with her choice.

"I have to say, Senator Tim Kaine is everything that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not," Mrs Clinton said on Saturday, drawing a quick contrast with the Republican ticket as she introduced her own No. 2 to the nation.

Mr Kaine bounded up to the microphone, appearing immediately comfortable in his brand new role as Mrs Clinton's top cheerleader and a weapon against Mr Trump. He slipped easily between English and Spanish, animating the receptive and mostly Latino crowd at Florida International University by mixing political rhetoric with homey reflections on his own life story.

  • Practical consensus-builder and fluent in Spanish

  • Mrs Hillary Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine is a senator and former governor from Virginia, a crucial swing state, with a reputation as a pragmatic consensus builder. But his credentials as a moderate might not energise the Democratic Party's base.

  • Age: 58

  • Experience: Mr Kaine has represented Virginia in the United States Senate since 2013 and was the state's governor from 2006 to 2010. He previously served as the mayor of Richmond, Virginia.

  • Childhood: He grew up in the Kansas City area. The son of an ironworker, he is a Roman Catholic and spent a year running a technical school founded by Jesuit missionaries in Honduras during a break from college.

  • Education: He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Harvard.

  • Family: He is married to Ms Anne Holton, Virginia's education secretary. Her father was the governor of Virginia from 1970 to 1974. They have three children.

  • How he could help Clinton: Fluent in Spanish, he could help connect with Hispanic voters. Virginia is a swing state, and his influence could be helpful there in a close election.

  • How he could hurt Clinton: More of a moderate, Mr Kaine might not satisfy the Democratic Party's activist base.

    His support for trade deals could provide an opening for Mr Donald Trump to attack. 


"Fe, familia y trabajo," he said, explaining to the crowd of more than 5,000 people that faith, family and work defined his life.

But even as Mr Kaine sought to appeal to Hispanic voters, he and Mrs Clinton were also trying to mollify a growing backlash from the left against his record of support for global trade deals, which many voters in Rust Belt states blame for the loss of US manufacturing jobs.

Mr Kaine had been one of 13 Senate Democrats to vote in support of giving President Barack Obama "fast track" authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12-nation pact that has become a lightning rod in this election year.

But aides to both Democrats signalled that Mr Kaine would soon publicly adopt Mrs Clinton's current position on the trade deal and say he no longer supported the agreement in its current form.

After praising the TPP as secretary of state, Mrs Clinton said during the Democratic primary against Senator Bernie Sanders that the pact did not meet her "high bar" on protecting American workers.

Progressive groups have offered mixed reviews of Mr Kaine, with Political Action saying it supported him in the light of the "racist, bigoted" message coming from Mr Trump. Democracy for America, a liberal group that backed Mr Sanders, agreed with the anti-Trump sentiment but said the selection of Mr Kaine was not helpful to the progressive movement.

As Mr Kaine spoke, the Trump campaign's rapid response operation sprung into action. It blasted out e-mail messages in rapid succession citing his "job-crushing" record in Virginia, claiming he lacked any achievements as governor.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2016, with the headline 'Kaine's pro-TPP stance may hurt Clinton'. Print Edition | Subscribe