In an election campaign marked by nastiness, name-calling and negativity, it was particularly refreshing to see a Republican react to Hillary Clinton’s pick for her vice presidential running mate by saying, “Trying to count the ways I hate Tim Kaine. Drawing a blank. Congrats to a good man and a good friend.”
That Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tweeted those words speaks volumes about Kaine, the Democratic senator from Virginia now thrust onto the national stage. As a senator, and before that as his state’s governor and as Democratic National Committee chair, Kaine gained a reputation for his trustworthiness and a willingness to cooperate and build bridges across the aisle.
In the Jewish community, we know the vice presidential pick as a friend to the National Jewish Democratic Council, a strong supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship and a proponent of the causes that most American Jews support — plus, he was the first Virginia governor to host a Passover seder in the governor’s mansion.
As governor, Kaine supported state organizations that sought to encourage Israeli businesses to expand in Virginia and signed an agreement with Israel to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the commonwealth of Virginia and the state of Israel on industrial research and development. And, as a strong believer in the importance of building alliances, he sought out Jewish community leaders as Richmond mayor, as governor and as U.S. senator.
Kaine who has visited Israel several times, including three trips as a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, champions a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians. He also understands Israel’s significant security challenges and advocates for a strong Israel. As senator, he backed funding for the Iron Dome and supported the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, bipartisan legislation that expands U.S.-Israel cooperation in such areas as defense, intelligence, alternative fuel technologies and agriculture.
Domestically, his progressive bona fides are unimpeachable. Like Clinton herself, Kaine proudly fights for progressive causes, putting on his agenda education, particularly early childhood education, civil rights, gun control, immigration reform, and women’s and LGBTQ rights.
A longtime advocate for early childhood education, Kaine worked as governor to expand access in his state. As mayor of Richmond he invested in rebuilding the city’s long-neglected schools. And as civil rights lawyer, he worked nearly two decades representing people who had been denied housing due to their race or disability.
A gun owner himself, Kaine has stood up to the gun lobbying by supporting increased gun control, including background record checks prior to gun purchases and through responsible limits on high-capacity magazines and combat-style weapons. He understands that such measures are not an affront to the Second Amendment, but rather will curb gun violence.
Kaine also appreciates that immigrants built this great nation of ours. He backs comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship; the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which offers relief to undocumented immigrants who came to this country as young children; and changes to our visa system to encourage workforce growth.
And he understands that great as it is, our nation cannot reach its full potential without equal rights for women. He supports a woman’s right to make her own health and reproductive decisions, and co-sponsored both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Kaine is a strong partner for Clinton’s progressive agenda, a friend to the Jewish community and an excellent choice to be our next vice president.