In a highly unpredictable presidential election season, Hillary Clinton is betting on Virginia Senator Tim Kaine to help her defeat Donald Trump, the freshly crowned Republican nominee. Mere days before the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, Clinton fired off a text to her supporters naming Kaine her running mate. Before her announcement on Friday night, Clinton’s shortlist revealed just how historic her team’s nomination could be. On top of being the first woman to represent a major political party in a US election, there was also a 67 percent chance that she’d pick either a person of color or a woman to fill the No. 2 spot.
According to The New York Times, Clinton and Kaine’s alignment on foreign policy, education, and foreign justice ultimately made the senator a more appealing choice over the more daring Thomas E. Perez and Corey Booker. If this pans out, Kaine – who also made President Barack Obama’s shortlist – should attract independent voters and moderate Republicans. At the same time, his pro-life stance may turn off some Democratic voters. In 2009, the former governor of Virginia signed a law that allowed the sale of “Choose Life” license plates. He argued that the law protected free speech, but opponents said it helped fund pro-life groups, according to Politico.
As a senator, Kaine, has a sparkling record when it comes to supporting women’s reproductive rights. Politico describes him as a “Catholic who personally opposes abortion but supports abortion rights policies.”
With Trump’s hateful words forming the basis of his campaign, Clinton has performed well with Latinos. But she’s continued to garner criticism for interfering in Latin American politics, particularly in the ousting of former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. This has had long-lasting effects in the Central American country, with many blaming Clinton for the instability that led to the assassination of indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres. Kaine’s ties to Honduras won’t be enough to tip the scales in her favor, but it may be a start.
Here are five things you should know about the man who may become the next vice president of the United States.
Written by Yara Simón and Vanessa Erazo.
He lived in Honduras for a year back in the eighties.
Kaine took a year off from Harvard Law School in 1980 and moved to the city of El Progreso. He traveled there with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and taught welding and carpentry at the Instituto Técnico Loyola. Despite living in Honduras under a military dictatorship, he often describes his time in the country as the most important year of his life.
He speaks Spanish fluently.
He learned while living in Honduras. As the former governor and current Senator of Virginia, a state with a growing Latino population, Kaine told The New York Times he finds himself speaking Spanish every day.
He gave the first-ever speech in Spanish from the Senate floor.
During the debate on the Senate’s immigration bill back in June of 2013, Kaine took to the floor and gave a speech in support of the bipartisan legislation completely in Spanish. He began by explaining that Spanish has been spoken in the US since the 1500s. “Creo que es apropiado que tome unos pocos minutos para explicar la legislación en español, un lenguaje que ha sido hablado en este país desde que misioneros españoles fundaron a San Agustín, Florida en mil quinientos sesenta y cinco. El español también es hablado por casi cuarenta millones de Americanos con mucho invertido en el resultado de este debate.”
His speech went down history as the first time a Senator ever delivered comments in a language other than English.
He remains connected to Honduras and traveled there last year.
Senator John Cornyn and Kaine spent three days in Honduras in February of 2015. They met with President Juan Orlando Hernandez, business leaders and organizations that work on issues like gang violence and human rights. The motivation for the trip was trying to fully understand the factors that came together to create the influx of unaccompanied minors that came across the border in 2014. He once even celebrated his wedding anniversary by taking a trip to the country.
He sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry calling for an investigation into Berta Cáceres' death.
Along with 10 other Democratic U.S. Senators, Kaine sent a request to Secretary of State John Kerry to launch an international investigation into the murder of the the indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres back in March.