Republicans are rejoicing following Hillary Clinton’s selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, widely seen as a weak choice that will deflate turnout among key constituencies including minorities, progressives, gays, and West Coast voters. Kaine is a conservative Democrat from a red state whose views on banking, trade, and social issues have been out of step with the progressive flank of the party.
Many liberal activists have expected Clinton to select a stalwart progressive to satisfy the faction of the party led by Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. Those activists have been articulating sentiments of discontent and betrayal.
“Hillary lied to the American public again,” says one party activist who asked not to be named. “She spent the last year grasping to convince us that she has progressive views, and now she selects the most conservative Democrat in the Senate as her running mate. The only thing consistent about Hillary is that she is a cold faced liar.”
Other political observers worry that presidential tickets with two Senators don’t fare well at the ballot box. Governors more readily inspire confidence in the electorate regarding executive competence — and Clinton has held few executive positions. As Secretary of State, she performed very badly, is responsible for at least three major national security crises, and lacks accomplishments that can be credited to her tenure.
While Kaine was a one-term governor of Virginia before being elected to the Senate, he lacks national security credentials at a time when many voters feel Clinton should have been indicted, prosecuted, and jailed for his flagrant and careless violations of national security laws.
Many progressive activists are continuing to call on Clinton to select Sanders or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. Observers say that is an unlikely eventuality — in large part because of Clinton’s monied backing from the banking industry in New York.
Kaine’s critics say that he lacks the charisma to serve as an effective Vice President.