The announcement of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) as Hillary Clinton’s running mate was met with mixed reactions.
Critics felt the generally unknown junior senator was an underwhelming pick for the high profile Democratic presidential nominee, and numerous headlines called Kaine “boring,” a label which the VP candidate has embraced.
Meanwhile, proponents felt it was a “safe” choice and the progressive senator’s largely uncontroversial political career would be advantageous for Clinton.
His connection with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community fits in with Clinton’s campaign and her call for diversity. During his Senate race, Kaine garnered nearly 72 percent of Virginia’s AAPI voters, according to exit polls from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
When Clinton announced Kaine as her running mate, Asian American delegate Steven Yeung from Virginia told NBC News that he supports the pick and thinks the senator can provide a stark contrast to the current political atmosphere.
“He honestly is a very normal guy, compared to the race that we’re having now with all the drama everywhere,” Yeung said of the senator from Virginia, which touts the ninth largest Filipino-American population in the country.
Kaine was one of the three members of Congress who pushed to award Filipino World War II (WWII) veterans the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor for civilians.
“[The] bill awarding Filipino WWII veterans a Congressional Gold Medal has passed in the Senate! Glad we are finally honoring their sacrifice,” Kaine tweeted on Friday, July 15 when the bill was passed.
Kaine was also a part of the team that announced the implementation of the long-awaited Filipino WWII Veterans Parole (FWVP) program that allows family members of veterans to come to the U.S. through immigration parole. The FWVP program was implemented on Thursday, June 9.
“For too many years, Filipino veterans who fought valiantly alongside the United States in World War II – including many who call Virginia home – have been waiting for the promise of reunification with their families to be fulfilled,” Kaine said in a statement.
In 2015, Kaine held a discussion with Asian American business owners in his home state in which he listened to their concerns on health care, the economy and immigration, according to the Roanoke Free Press.
At the roundtable, he said that he advocates raising the minimum wage, albeit gradually rather than in large, immediate upturns that negatively affect small businesses.
In January, he spoke at a launching of a super PAC called AAPI Victory Fund, which seeks to improve political engagement and voting among AAPI voters. Asian Americans have the lowest voter turnout among other ethnic subgroups, according to data from the U.S. Census.
“The AAPI population is growing fast in Virginia and its members are enriching communities all across the Commonwealth,” Kaine said at the event. “I am happy to join this effort to expand AAPI political participation in voting and running for office nationwide.”
Like Clinton, Kaine’s stances on immigration coincide with the ideas that President Barack Obama has put on the table. A supporter for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), Kaine signed an amicus brief – or an impartial witness’s testimony – with other senators in support of the programs in the recently tied U.S. v. Texas Supreme Court case.
When the Supreme Court tied on the case, Kaine released a statement denouncing the split decision, calling it a “setback” for families across the country. He cited the Republican Party’s “destructive” blockade on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Democrat Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat on the bench which would have prevented a tie.
“President Obama made a decision to ensure law abiding families will not be torn apart because of Congress’ refusal to address our broken immigration system, and I will continue to do everything I can to support this effort,” he said in the statement released on Thursday, June 23.
“It is a sad day when one branch of government believes it can gain political advantage by undermining another branch. If nothing else, the Republican blockade on the Court could show all Americans what’s truly at stake in November.”
Apart from countering Clinton’s celebrity stature, Kaine serves the crucial swing state of Virginia which Clinton won by 64.3 percent during the primaries.
Kaine became the junior senator of Virginia in 2012, but before that he served as the chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2009-2011. He served as Virginia’s governor from 2006-2010 and lieutenant governor from 2002-2006, and before that he was mayor of Richmond from 1998-2001.
However, one significant thing about Kaine is that he has a perfect election record.
“I’ve never lost an election,” he said during Clinton’s VP announcement on Thursday, July 22 in Florida. “I’m not about to let that change.” (Klarize Medenilla / AJPress)