Clinton VP pick could face liberal ire

American liberals, meet Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE.

The Virginia senator, chosen Friday to be Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain MORE’s running mate, will take the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where party leaders are hoping to send a message of unity — and highlight stark divisions in the Republican Party intensified by Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE — on the tails of a boisterous GOP gathering in Cleveland.

ADVERTISEMENT
Kaine, for those purposes, is something of a gamble.

The moderate Democrat has backed abortion restrictions; supported fast-track authority for a controversial Pacific Rim trade deal; and just this week joined a push to deregulate some of the nation’s largest banks — all positions that are anathema to the liberals being wooed by the Clinton team heading into November.

Raising the stakes, the convention marks the end of a bruising Democratic primary contest between Clinton and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE (I-Vt.) in which Sanders’s liberal supporters continuously bashed the former secretary of State for being too conservative on some of those same issues, including trade and her ties to Wall Street. 

Clinton, now the presumptive nominee, has shifted left in an effort to appease those critics — with help from a recent Sanders endorsement — but in a challenge to Democrats’ unity push, throngs of protesters are expected in Philadelphia next week.

Those liberal voices, seen as vital to Clinton’s election chances, had pressed her to choose a more left-leaning vice presidential candidate — someone in the mold of Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell Brown'Hillbilly Elegy' author won't run for Senate Brown, Portman urge Trump administration to move quickly on a steel decision Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (D-Ohio), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-Mass.) or Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (D-Ore.) — and it’s unclear how the more centrist Kaine will be received. 

Leading up to the pick, there was a great deal of speculation that Clinton would choose either a minority or female candidate in order to maximize turnout among large blocs of voters already alienated by Trump. That list included Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraWeek ahead in tech: Debate over online sex trafficking bill heats up California lawmakers step up their opposition to Trump California Dems offer preview of party's 2020 agenda MORE (D-Calif.), Labor Secretary Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE and Julián Castro, President Obama’s housing chief. 

Following the recent terrorist attack in Nice, France, mass shootings in Texas, Florida and Louisiana, and the killing of two black men at the hands of police in Minnesota and Louisiana, the nation has grown jittery over security concerns. Trump has responded by focusing his campaign on a theme of “law and order,” and Clinton faced pressure to counter the message.

Kaine fits the bill. The former Virginia governor serves on both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, where he’s focused intently on anti-terror measures and led the push for Congress to approve a new authorization for military force specific to the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Washington dysfunction is damaging national security Booker signs on to Sanders's 'Medicare-for-all' bill MORE, an Independent Maine lawmaker who caucuses with Democrats, recently noted that experience as just one of many reasons Kaine is perfectly suited for the vice presidency.

“He is thoughtful and knowledgeable in foreign policy,” King told The Daily Beast last week, before Kaine was named, “and has engaged with the leaders of the world’s most troublesome places.”

There are other reasons Kaine is an attractive pick for Clinton and the Democrats.

A devout Catholic from the Midwest, Kaine was born in Minnesota, Jesuit-educated in Missouri and took time away from Harvard Law School to do missionary work in Honduras. 

He’s fluent in Spanish, shifting effortlessly between the two languages on the stump. He represents Virginia, a swing state. And he’s built a reputation as a pragmatic legislator who’s able to compromise across the aisle, a trait not overlooked by Clinton as she weighed her options.

“He was a world-class mayor, governor and senator, and is one of the most highly respected senators I know,” Clinton told Charlie Rose last week.

No stranger to national politics, Kaine was on Obama’s shortlist for vice president in 2008 and headed the Democratic National Committee in the early years of the administration. 

Still, the freshman senator is hardly a household name, and Clinton’s decision was likely also influenced by Trump’s own options for running mate. The business mogul passed over prominent national figures like former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to tap Indiana Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Pence hires Freedom Caucus adviser for press secretary Lawmakers, pick up the ball on health care and reform Medicaid MORE — a traditional but low-key conservative who’s not nearly as combative as others Trump had considered.

Kaine, for his part, had repeatedly downplayed the possibility that he’d be chosen. With characteristic modesty, he’d suggested he’s simply too “boring” for the job. 

Clinton had a different take.

“I love that about him,” she told Rose.

Ultimately, Kaine’s moderate position on some issues may be immaterial: recent national polls show that a vast majority of Sanders supporters will stick with Democrats in November. A Pew survey released earlier this month found that 85 percent of Sanders backers said they would vote for Clinton, while just 9 percent would cross the aisle for Trump.