Trump was wrong: Kaine is a liberal in a moderate's clothing
© Greg Nash

When Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election Appeals court blocks Hillary Clinton deposition on private email server What Biden must do to keep his lead and win MORE first announced her choice of Virginia Senator Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump goes birther again; no deal on COVID-19 package Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance MORE as her running mate, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE sent out a Tweet saying “the Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate Trump to counter DNC with travel to swing states Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins MORE supporters are furious with the choice of Tim Kaine, who represents the opposite of what Bernie Sanders stands for.”

Not knowing Kaine (who is little known by most voters, even in his home state), Trump can be excused for believing the press reports. USA Today called Kaine a “swing-state moderate,” CNN claimed Kaine is “more moderate than the liberal strain driving today’s Democratic Party” and Financial Review labeled Kaine a “well-liked swing-state moderate.” And the list goes on.

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The actual record stands in stark contrast to the myth Kaine has built around himself. It all started with his successful 2005 campaign for Governor of Virginia when he appeared in a TV ad saying:

The truth is I cut taxes as mayor of Richmond. I’ll enforce the death penalty as governor and I’m against same-sex marriage. I’m conservative on personal responsibility, character, family and the sanctity of life. These are my values and that’s what I believe.

But not for long. Seven years later, he was elected to the US Senate and immediately began compiling a record to the left of every other Member of Congress, including Bernie Sanders. No, this is not a misprint. Tim Kaine is the only Member of Congress — House or Senate — to compile a “zero” lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.

The roster of liberal luminaries who don’t measure up to Kaine’s record of left-wing perfection includes Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Energy: Major oil companies oppose Trump admin's methane rollback | Union files unfair labor practice charge against EPA USPS inspector general reviewing DeJoy's policy changes Former Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate MORE, Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance Bottom line Polls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday MORE, Bernie Sanders, Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Ocasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech New poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts MORE, Nancy Pelosi, and even former Senators Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump hedges with Post Office funding | Harris speaks with 19th | An apology of sorts in Massachusetts Jared Kushner denies Trump 'promoting' questions about Kamala Harris MORE and Hillary Clinton. Whatever else might be said of this herd of liberals, they earned their left-wing stripes honestly. Tim Kaine, on the other hand, has had more twists and turns than a Shenandoah mountain trail.

As you can tell from his ad in 2005, Tim Kaine has spent most of his political career trying to appear to be all things to all people which has produced so many contradictions that the term “flip-flopping” just doesn’t suffice.

Take, for example, the issue of guns.

  • Early Tim Kaine (while mayor of Richmond):  was a champion of gun control and used taxpayer funds to rent buses to send gun-control advocates to a rally in Washington.

  • Later Tim Kaine (while running for governor):  proclaimed on his website, “Tim Kaine strongly supports the Second Amendment. As the next governor, he will not propose any new gun laws.”

  • Current Tim Kaine (as Hillary Clinton’s running mate): said he will take on the NRA and is proud that the gun-rights organization has opposed him in every statewide race.

Then there’s the issue of life. Kaine said that, as a Catholic, he believed in the sanctity of life. Yet, his votes in the Senate are indistinguishable from the leading advocates of abortion on demand, such as Barbara Boxer. Even on the issue of curbing abortions after five months of pregnancy, Kaine voted with the most extreme faction of the pro-abortion camp.

Perhaps as a parent who believes in the sanctity of life, Kaine would support parents being notified when their child is transported out of state to get an abortion. Don’t bet on it. Kaine voted against that resolution in 2013.

How about taxpayer funding of abortions?  Kaine previously said he supports the “Hyde” amendment, a provision in every congressional spending bill since 1976 that prevents direct taxpayer funding of abortions. Right after the vice presidential pick was announced, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook proclaimed that Kaine had flipped to Hillary’s position. But Kaine then did a curious thing: he contradicted Mook and proclaimed he had always supported taxpayers financing of abortions.   

Despite Texas liberal icon Jim Hightower’s admonition that “there’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow lines and dead armadillos,” many politicians covet the “moderate” tag, but real moderates have been harder and harder to find as the Democrat leadership has aggressively forced Blue Dog Democrats into retirement.   

We do, however, know what a moderate Democrat looks like.  We need look no further than Michael Dukakis’s vice presidential running mate, Lloyd Bentsen. Senator Bentsen earned a lifetime ACU rating of 40.5%. While not as strong as Bentsen, at least the four subsequent Democrat vice presidential nominees (Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Willie Brown now pleased Harris accepted Biden offer after advising against it Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause MORE, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and Joe BidenJoe BidenOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Congress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' MORE) earned double-digit ratings on the ACU scorecard. But, surprisingly, Bentsen’s ACU rating is more closely aligned with Republican Vice President Dan Quayle’s than it is to Tim Kaine’s.  

Tim Kaine’s 0% ACU rating ranks him the most extreme liberal in all of Congress, but the bigger difference between Kaine and his liberal allies is not in their political philosophy. The more significant difference is that the others can be trusted to mean what they say; the same cannot be said of Tim Kaine. He’s the perfect running mate for Hillary Clinton.

Dan Schneider is the executive director of the American Conservative Union. Larry Hart is the ACU Foundation Senior Fellow for Government Reform.
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