Clinton’s pick of Kaine as VP ‘an interesting one,’ says VCU political scientist

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was VCU's 2008 spring commencement speaker.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was VCU's 2008 spring commencement speaker.
Tom Coen.
Tom Coen.

In selecting Tim Kaine as her running mate, Hillary Clinton is adding to her ticket a vice presidential candidate who is fluent in Spanish, has foreign policy experience and is capable of navigating the legislative process, said Tom Coen, who teaches in the Department of Political Science in the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kaine, the junior U.S. senator from Virginia and the former governor of Virginia and mayor of Richmond, was announced Friday as Clinton’s vice presidential pick. Coen, who teaches courses on U.S., state and local government at VCU, discussed Clinton’s decision to go with Kaine, calling it “an interesting one.”

Clinton was looking for someone who can she can trust and rely on in running the government.

“Kaine brings several elements to the ticket,” Coen said. “First, as a fluent speaker of Spanish he can help in important swing states such as Florida, Colorado and New Mexico. Additionally, his experience in the Senate, particularly in foreign policy, would aid the administration in dealing with the various difficult global issues. It also would assist in dealing with the Senate and passing legislation. Lastly he is familiar with Secretary Clinton and by all accounts that is a major factor in the selection. Clinton was looking for someone who can she can trust and rely on in running the government.

“While he can assist with those swing states, this election looks to be centered on the Midwest states where coal and manufacturing jobs have been threatened or lost. Virginia’s electorate is not similar to those states. It will be interesting to see how his selection impacts those states and if he can bring in those voters.”

Kaine has served in the Senate since 2013. He was chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2011.

“The selection is an interesting one,” Coen said. “While he has experience, he is not known to be aligned with [U.S.] Senator [Bernie] Sanders and the policies he has brought forward. There would have been others who would be a clear sign of uniting the two sides of the party. Kaine’s selection has been called a ‘safe’ choice.”