How Democratic VP Pick Tim Kaine's Camp Is Already Pushing Back on Liberal Critics

Tim Kaine is unlikely to get a unified hero’s welcome at the DNC in Philly.

— -- Democrats in Philadelphia are unlikely to greet Tim Kaine with a unified hero’s welcome when he takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention tonight.

In fact, about 165 Bernie Sanders delegates answered a survey saying they’d be interested in “nonviolently and emphatically” protesting during Kaine’s speech.

While liberals are likely happy with Kaine’s high marks from labor groups such as the AFL-CIO and abortion rights advocates like NARAL, and his “F” grade from the National Rifle Institute, they’ve expressed concerns about his positions on other issues like trade, financial regulation and the environment.

Here’s a look at some liberal groups’ critiques of Kaine and the full context behind them:

“The Democratic Party made an unforced error by refusing to take a strong stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its official platform. Now we have Tim Kaine, a vice-presidential nominee who voted to put that deal on the fast-track to approval.” –- Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Stephanie Taylor

The PCCC is referring to Kaine’s support of a bill, Trade Promotion Authority, which gave President Obama the ability to negotiate trade deals without the interference of Congress, which only votes on the final deal. When TPA passed in 2015, it paved the way for the president to negotiate and send back to Congress the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade deal with Asian nations that many progressives oppose.

Hillary Clinton helped promote TPP while serving as secretary of state, saying at 2012 news conference that the deal “sets the gold standard in trade agreements” but reversed her position in 2015 after launching her presidential bid.

Meanwhile, Kaine did vote for TPA but added in a statement that “my support of TPA is not a blind endorsement of any pending trade negotiation or deal.”

And Clinton aides said Kaine told the former secretary of state in private that he would oppose the TPP in its current form, saying it was inadequate on wage protection and national security.

"In discussions with Secretary Clinton, Senator Kaine shared his own longstanding concerns about TPP, saying he had reached the same conclusion and could not vote for it," a campaign spokesperson said in an email to ABC.

That’s not where Kaine’s record on trade starts and ends. Back in 2007, while serving as the governor of Virginia, Kaine criticized advocates of protectionism as having a “loser’s mentality,” but that was well before TPP became such a liberal litmus test.

“It should be disqualifying for any potential Democratic vice presidential candidate to be part of a lobbyist-driven effort to help banks dodge consumer protection standards and regulations designed to prevent banks from destroying our economy.” -- Democracy for America Executive Director Charles Chamberlain

Just days before being announced as Clinton’s VP pick, Kaine signed two letters to regulatory agencies making requests that made some liberals recoil. He was one of 70 senators from both parties to urge Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray to relax some regulations on credit unions and community banks that the senators argued were being treated like much larger financial institutions.

“We must ensure that credit unions and community banks are not unduly burdened by compliance, but rather have the ability to maintain their close relationships and continue to offer a wide variety of consumer financial products and services,” the senators wrote.

That same day, Kaine signed a separate missive, along with three other Senate Democrats, requesting that other agencies exempt regional banks from capital and reporting requirements that so-called “systematically important” banks must maintain.

Kaine spokesman Amy Douglas defended these letters to Politico last week, saying in a statement, “Credit unions, community banks and regional banks need to be carefully regulated, but the nature of the regulation can be different to ensure scarce resources are efficiently spent allowing regulators to focus on the bad actors."

She also called Kaine “a strong supporter of Dodd-Frank’s financial protections.” The package of regulatory reforms that made up the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed Congress in 2010, two years before Kaine, who had previously served as Virginia’s governor, arrived in the Senate.

Kaine’s secretary of technology during his governorship, Aneesh Chopra, also praised his former boss’s positions on financial regulation, noting in an op-ed that Kaine helped establish an alternative to payday lending for state employees.

"Tim Kaine must show himself from the start that he’ll use his office to be a climate champion. He showed he could do this when he became an early opponent of the Keystone Pipeline, but Kaine’s opposition to regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and his support for natural gas exports and pipelines, prove he still has a long way to go." -- Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard

As Leonard noted, Kaine opposed the Keystone XL pipeline, writing in a 2013 op-ed that his objection wasn’t to the pipeline itself, but rather “the wisdom of using tar sands oil. ... Why would we embrace a dirtier energy source when smart innovation and policy are opening up so many cleaner alternatives?”

But he used that same op-ed to defend some alternative energy sources that are still anathema to liberals: “As governor of Virginia, I supported building a state-of-the art coal plant in exchange for converting a plant that predated the Clean Air Act from coal to natural gas. I support development of offshore energy (gas, oil, wind and tidal) in the Atlantic. I support new hydro-fracturing techniques that expand the production of natural gas.”

But the Clinton campaign maintained that Clinton and Kaine are aligned in their energy positions.

"Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton believe that combating climate change and protecting clean air are too important to take any solution off the table. With strong safeguards in place, natural gas can play an important role as we accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy," the spokesman said in the same email.

The campaign also noted that a Clinton/Kaine administration would "respect" the choice of a state or community that doesn't want to allow fracking.

Other environmental groups besides Greenpeace gave Kaine a more full-throated endorsement. The League of Conservation Voters said in a statement that “throughout his time in public office, Tim Kaine has been a champion for the environment.”

And the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund said in a statement, “Sen. Kaine’s impressive environmental record is a perfect match for a presidential candidate who puts so much emphasis on creating green jobs and expanding America’s reliance on clean, renewable energy. We applaud this choice and will work hard to help the Clinton-Kaine campaign win in November.”