WASHINGTON, July 25, 2016 – Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate was a strategic choice aimed at silencing her foreign policy critics and moving her campaign away from The Obama Doctrine.
The move to select a moderate Democrat whose political views are strongly influenced by his Catholic faith left the liberal wing, supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, even less excited about Clinton. However, Clinton and her advisers appear to believe they can win those voters regardless of the VP pick, but want a strong foreign policy figure to shield the ticket from an almost certain onslaught from the GOP.
Virginia Senator Kaine is well-known for his strong foreign policy credentials. He sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, where he is respected for his independence and knowledge. He is also often vocal in criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Middle East Crisis, and especially about Obama’s ability to deploy the military to fight ISIS without congressional approval.
Clinton almost certainly hopes Kaine’s steady foreign policy hand will help deflect Donald Trump’s criticism of her own foreign policy failures. As Secretary of State, Clinton actively participated in numerous failed policy initiatives, including Libya, Syria, Iraq and Russia. Trump will come out swinging on all fronts, likely building on his loud criticism of her handling of the attack against the US base in Benghazi, Libya.
By adding Kaine to the ticket, the Democratic nominee almost certainly hopes to suggest to voters that her presidency would not repeat Obama’s mistakes, and that she has a very different foreign policy adviser in Kaine. The Democratic Vice Presidential candidate is not affiliated with those same policies, and takes a completely different view than the Obama administration on ISIS, Syria, Iraq, and refugees. For example, Kaine has proposed building “safe zones” to protect those who are fleeing ISIS instead of welcoming them into foreign countries. He is also a strong supporter of no-fly zones over parts of Syria in response to the civil war.
Kaine has been to more than 23 foreign countries on official business, and is a student of international relations. He supports the military and even has a son in the U.S. Marines.
While Kaine may beef up the ticket’s foreign policy experience, he does have issues with some policies Clinton supports, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Kaine has told Clinton that he does not support the current version of the legislation. Additionally, Kaine brings support from the Spanish-speaking community because of his fluency in the language; he not only spoke in Spanish during a rally with Hillary Clinton in Florida, but also provided an interview in Spanish to Univision.
The decision to select Kaine is an apparent attempt to differentiate Clinton from Obama, disarm the Trump campaign, and to present voters with a moderate choice. Only time will tell if it succeeds.