PHILADELPHIA — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia made his debut at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, accepting his party’s nomination for vice president over occasional shouts of Bernie Sanders holdouts who had demanded a more progressive running mate for Hillary Clinton.
Kaine’s half-hour address was largely biographical, describing his Minnesota birth, his Kansas upbringing, his brief stint as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, and his political rise from being mayor of Richmond, Va., to the governorship and beyond. He was introduced by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, also of Virginia, who described whose “fundamental goodness led him to become a civil rights lawyer.”
Kaine tackled dissenters early in his remarks, after a compliment paid to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders began a round of chants from the Vermont senator’s supporters. “We should all feel the Bern, and we all should not want to get burned by the other guy,” Kaine said. Throughout his speech, even as he built up Clinton, Kaine scoured GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, one reason why Clinton named him as her running mate:
“Our nation, it is just too great to put it in the hands of a slick-talking, empty-promising, self-promoting, one-man wrecking crew.”
For the most part, Kaine resisted attacking Trump on national security issues – that was left to other heavy-hitters like Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA chief Leon Panetta. Kaine stuck primarily to Trump’s alleged moral failings:
“John Kasich, the Republican governor who had the honor of hosting the Republican convention in Cleveland….wouldn’t even attend it because he thinks Trump is such a moral disaster…Take it from the guy who co-wrote Trump’s autobiography. For Trump, he said, “lying is second nature to him.”
Democrats also hope that Kaine’s Catholic faith can serve as a counterweight to Trump’s choice as a running mate: Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, selected at the behest of evangelicals in that party, Trump has confessed. “If any of you are looking for that party of Lincoln, we’ve got a home for you right here in the Democratic party,” he said.
Kaine, who personally opposes abortion but supports Roe v. Wade, could appeal to evangelicals wary of Trump, and on Wednesday he also served as a validator of Clinton’s Methodist faith. Said Kaine:
“My journey has convinced me that God has created a rich tapestry in this country – an incredible cultural diversity that succeeds when we embrace everyone in love and battle back against the dark forces of division. We’re all neighbors and we must love our neighbors as ourselves….”
Polling has shown that Clinton, who has struggled with controversy over private email servers during her tenure as secretary of state, has a trust issue with voters.
Kaine sought to raise the same issue with Trump:
“You know who I don’t trust? Donald Trump. The guy promises a lot. But you might have noticed, he has a habit of saying the same two words right after he makes his biggest, hugest promises. You guys know the words I mean? “Believe me.”
“….Here’s the thing. Most people, when they run for president, they don’t just say ‘believe me.’ They respect you enough to tell you how they will get things done.
“…Small contractors – companies just like my dad’s – believed him, believed him, when he said that he’d pay them to build a casino in Atlantic City. They did the work, they hung the drywall, they poured the concrete. But a year after the opening, Trump filed for bankruptcy. He walked away with millions. They got pennies on the dollar. Some of them went out of business. All because they believed Donald Trump….”