Who Really Is Tim Kaine?

For most Americans, last week’s Vice Presidential debate is the only time voters will get acquainted with the relatively unknown Tim Kaine, so the Real News asks: ‘what about Kaine was left out of the discussion?’

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Story Transcript

THOMAS HEDGES, TRNN: When Hillary Clinton announced Tim Kaine as her running mate, she hailed Kaine as someone who’s “devoted his life to fighting for others.” Although Kaine wasn’t a household name, in Washington he’s known for being a centrist politician who’ll be able to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans, as well as offer up valuable fundraising skills. But after last week’s vice presidential debates, which many say Kaine lost, many are asking: who is Tim Kaine really?

BILL CURRY: A well-liked centrist. Very much a part of the democratic party establishment, a former DNC chair.

HEDGES: Bill Curry, a two-time Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut and White House advisor to Bill Clinton, says Tim Kaine exemplifies the Democratic Party paradox, whereby genuine politicians who’ve done progressive work in their early days now find themselves advocating for and protecting the moneyed interest of their party.

CURRY: This is someone who spent his career fighting red-lining of African-American neighborhoods by banks. Service of missionaries with missionaries as carpenter in Honduras. In a way he reminds me of all the unresolved contradictions of the party, that this is someone who clearly has, exudes decency and has strong social values but sees not conflict in the way the party conducts its business at the top.

HEDGES: During his four years as Governor of Virginia, Kaine cut about $5 billion from the state’s budget, trying also to raise taxes by about $3 billion without success. As Senator, he’s protected the fossil fuel industry. He’s said he opposes the decriminalization of marijuana, and has said he supports the massive Transpacific Partnership agreement or TPP.

KEVIN ZEESE: He has always been in favor of these trade agreements.

HEDGES: After joining the Clinton campaign, Kaine switched his position on the TPP and said that he opposes it in its current form. But Kevin Zeese, a Baltimore-based activist and former Green party candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, says Kaine would do nothing to put a stop to the TPP.

ZEESE: And he called Democrats who opposed NAFTA and the Central American Agreement, CAFTA, he called them “losers.” That’s the language that all Democrats use, “They oppose the TPP in its current form.” That “current form” language is to give them the wiggle room they need to support the TPP after the election, make some minor change and now its okay. He defended the TPP even the day before he was nominated to be Hillary’s vice presidential candidate.

HEDGES: On energy, Kaine is a friend to the oil industry. In 2013, he co-sponsored a bill for offshore drilling in the Atlantic.

ZEESE: He is an all-of-the-above energy guy. He supports coal, offshore oil, he is supporting carbon infrastructure in Virginia where he is governor.

HEDGES: On foreign policy, he’s known for being a moderate to sometimes hawkish Democrat.

BEN NORTON: He’s perhaps not as hawkish as Clinton but he’s certainly a dove.

HEDGES: Ben Norton, a journalist for Salon.com, says that while Kaine has supported diplomacy efforts like the Iran deal, his positions on other issues are more hawkish.

NORTON: He’s currently at this moment calling for potential military intervention, via a no-fly zone in Syria. In the case of a no-fly zone, it sounds nice and humanitarian that’s how you assume its function. But U.S. officials have speculated that it would take around 70,000 personnel in order to enforce a no-fly zone. He’s defending U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

HEDGES: Kaine is also a defender of America’s most important ally in the Middle East next to Israel, Saudi Arabia.

NORTON: In March 2015, about 18 months ago, when the bombing campaign, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the U.S. began in Yemen, which has pulverized large parts of the country. Killed more than 10,000 people, according to the UN, and pushed millions into further despair and poverty and hunger, he expressed strong support for what Saudi Arabia and its allies were doing. And he encouraged the U.S. to provide more support.

HEDGES: In the end, Zeese says Kaine represents the same moderate policy positions Hillary Clinton does, and that as Vice President he would continue to carry out the Democratic establishment’s agenda dutifully.

ZEESE: Tim Kaine has never lost an election. You don’t have that kind of record unless you’re willing to work with and represent the interest of big business whether its on a State level or on an international level, the transnational corporations. That is where the money comes from elections and that is what our government represents, is those moneyed interests. Tim Kaine can be a nice guy. He can smile, he can be friendly, he can have his missionary history and the reality is though, in order to be where he is, essentially at the top of the Democratic Party, he needs to be part of the oligarch representatives.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.