Tim Kaine: Everything You Need to Know

The U.S. Senator from Virginia was elected in 2012.

ByABC News
July 22, 2016, 8:11 PM

— -- Name: Tim Kaine

Party: Democrat

Date of Birth: Feb. 26, 1958

Age: 58

What He Does Now: U.S. Senator from Virginia. Elected in 2012. Serves on Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations and Aging Committees.

What He Used to Do: Kaine served as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2009 to 2011. He served as governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, as lieutenant governor from 2002 to 2006, and as mayor of Richmond from 1998 to 2001. He was first elected to office in 1994 as a Richmond City Council member. He has said he ran for council because he thought the governing body was too racially divided. He got his start as a lawyer handling civil rights and fair-housing cases as well as representing death row inmates. He attended the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School.

Hometown: Born in St. Paul, Minnesota but raised in a Kansas City suburb

Family Tree: Kaine was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Albert and Kathleen Kaine. He is the eldest of three boys. He was raised in Kansas City where his father owned a metalworking shop. His mother was a home economics teacher. He met his wife Anne Holton at Harvard Law School. They married in November 1984 and have three children: Nat, Woody and Annella. Kaine’s father-in-law, A. Linwood Holton, is the former Republican governor of Virginia, and Kaine has called him his "political mentor." Kaine’s wife, Anne, is currently the Virginia secretary of education.

Key life/career moments:

  • While at Harvard Law School, he took a year off in 1980 to be a missionary in Honduras and help run a small vocational school there. It is there where he perfected his Spanish. He still speaks Spanish fluently. Kaine has called the experience in Honduras "searing." He said it taught him that "struggle" is part of life. His exposure in Honduras to overwhelming poverty helped shape his future and his determination to serve others. Kaine has also said that it led him to his wife, Anne, and that the two of them set out to make "reconciliation" the mission of their lives.
  • In the Senate, he has made a name for himself by sometimes butting heads with his friend, President Obama, when it comes to the role of Congress in giving the president authority to deploy military force and declare war.
  • Kaine was vetted in 2008 as a potential running mate for Obama. Of the outcome of Obama’s decision, he told a Virginia NBC affiliate, "The president told me at one point, he said you know, you are my heart pick and Biden is my head pick ... Sometimes I go with my heart, sometimes I go with my head."
  • As governor of Virginia, he dealt with a Republican-controlled General Assembly that blocked several of his primary goals, including expanding early education and repairing the state’s transportation system. During his governorship, he also dealt with an economic crisis and the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Following the mass shooting, Kaine’s leadership resulted in statewide mental health reforms. He also banned smoking in Virginia restaurants. He told the Washington Post his biggest regret was not finding more money for roads. Since he’s left the governorship, some of the $160,000 he’s received in gifts has come under scrutiny. Some have described his biggest accomplishment as governor as delivering Virginia for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in over 40 years.
  • He started his career as a civil rights attorney, handling death penalty and anti-discrimination cases. One case Kaine discusses frequently is Richard Whitley’s appeal of his death sentence. Kaine was then a young lawyer and Whitley had been convicted of slashing the throat of a Virginia widow and raping her twice.
  • What You Might Not Know About Him:

  • He has attended a black Catholic Church, St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, for 30 years. The Richmond church hosted his wedding in 1984 and the baptism of his three kids. For years, Kaine was a tenor in the men’s choir until politics prevented him from making weekly rehearsals. Kaine reportedly loves to sing.
  • He made history by being the first person to give a full Senate floor speech in Spanish during the debate over the so-called gang of eight bill in 2013.
  • He had a lot of inner turmoil as governor when it came to the death penalty. When the state executed someone, he reportedly would stay in his office with an open line to the death chamber, and his staffers said he was at times emotional.
  • He travels with three harmonicas and has played with Boyd Tinsley, Bruce Hornsby, Ricky Skaggs, Dan Tyminski and the Cary Street Ramblers.
  • He’s never lost an election in his career, although as Democratic National Committee chairman he failed in 2010 to deliver victories in the gubernatorial races of Virginia and New Jersey where respective candidates Creigh Deeds and Jon Corzine lost.
  • His basement neighbor in the Russell Building when he first got to the Senate: Ted Cruz
  • He called himself "boring" in a June 2016 interview with Meet The Press
  • What He Has Said About Clinton:

  • He endorsed Hillary Clinton in May 2014 at a Ready for Hillary breakfast. Politico reported that she called personally to thank him.
  • In June 2016, he said, "the reason I'm helping Hillary, I encouraged her to run in May of 2014, because I could telescope forward and see some of the challenges that this nation would be facing. And I decided that by reason of character, by reason of background, and experience, but also especially by reason of results, she would be the most qualified person to be president in January of 2017."
  • Kaine’s abortion stance is not as liberal as Clinton’s. He has said that personally, as a Catholic, he is pro-life but does not believe the government should intrude into a woman’s right to choose.
  • What He Has Said About Veepstakes:

  • He told ABC News on July 5, 2016: “The only role I’m playing is trying to help her win Virginia. I have lived in Virginia long enough to remember when we were a state that didn’t matter in presidential politics. It is now nice to be in a state that matters a lot so the work that I can do to be helpful to her is just right here at home.”
  • In December, 2015, he reflected on the VP speculation swirling around him both in 2008 and now. He told the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "My gut told me eight years ago that wasn’t how I was going to make my contribution," he said. "My gut tells me now the way I’m going to make my contribution is right here in the Senate." Kaine added, "I want to be John Warner, is what I want to do."
  • In April 2016, he told MSNBC's Morning Joe, "And I have a great feeling that I'm going to be on that podium with Hillary Clinton when she's taking the oath of office, but I'm going to be sitting with the other senators."
  • In May 2016, he told David Gregory: "My gut doesn't feel much differently this time than last"
  • In June 2016, he told Meet The Press, "People will speculate, but I have got one job and one job only right now, and that is to work hard for Hillary Clinton so she can win and especially in Virginia, that's the area where I have been helping her and that's the area where I'm going to help her."
  • On July 11, 2016, he told MSNBC: “You know, I mean, it’s interesting, I was speculated about 8 years ago, and it’s nice to be speculated about, I’m not going to pretend otherwise….Well in my gut 8 years ago, I didn’t think it was going to go that direction, and I’ve gotta say, in my gut right now I kinda feel like I’m going to stay in the Senate and continue to battle on armed services, foreign relations, and budget issues that make me a happy senator every day. So speculation is fine, but I got a job to do and for the Hillary campaign, the best thing I can do is hopefully help her win in Virginia. Virginia’s a key state and I’m looking forward to campaigning for her and making sure she wins Virginia.”
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