Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s recent Vice Presidential pick of Tim Kaine has in many ways been regarded as a “safe choice”, nominally aiding her White House bid without the risk some more outspoken running-mates, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, could potentially have posed.
A former governor and current senator for the swing-state of Virginia, Tim Kaine worked as a missionary in Honduras and speaks fluent Spanish, an asset in an election where Hispanic voters could tip the scales in critical battleground states like Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona.
His experience in government reinforces Clinton’s campaign message of experience, and his past criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the war on ISIS could help the ticket with independents frustrated with the White House’s approach to the growing terror threat.
While Kaine maintains a perfect 100% rating from the pro-abortion group NARAL and Planned Parenthood, he has courted religious conservatives with what he calls his “personal opposition” to abortion as a practicing Catholic.
But Kaine’s criticism of the Israeli government and snubbing of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress have stirred fears among supporters of the Jewish state, who are concerned by the Senator’s outspoken support for the Iranian nuclear deal and endorsement of the Obama administration’s efforts to force Israeli concessions as a way to lure the Palestinian Authority back to peace talks.
Kaine was among the first Democratic lawmakers to announce he would boycott Netanyahu’s address to Congress in 2015 regarding the planned Iran nuclear agreement, which was signed later that year.
Speaking to the left-leaning Jewish Daily Forward after the address, Kaine proclaimed his support for the Jewish state, calling himself “a strongly pro-Israel Democrat”. But the Virginia Senator said that he had “deep concerns about the leaders, frankly, on the Israeli and Palestinian side.”
“I want Israel to be safe and secure in the future and I worry that some of the activities vis-à-vis the Palestinians have weakened Israel’s future security, not strengthened it.”
Conservatives chided Kaine’s decision to snub the Israeli leader and noted the senator’s support in favor of the Iran nuclear deal.
Kaine has noted that he cosponsored the “Corker bill” – initiated by Tennessee Senator Bob Corker – which gave congress the right to vote down any suspension of sanctions on the Iranian regime.
Yet when the Iran deal was signed, Kaine helped filibuster Republican-led efforts to use the Corker bill – by then passed into law by a wide majority – to block the Iranian agreement.
In a press release last July, Kaine praised the agreement with Iran, saying that sanctions relief “hinges on what Iran must do”. Kaine twice voted with a minority to filibuster GOP attempts to nullify the agreement, thus paving the way for the removal of sanctions and the unfreezing of Iranian assets.
In Kaine 2013 cosponsored a Senate resolution praising Secretary of State John Kerry, who, the document reads, “is to be commended for his tireless efforts to urgently advance a negotiated two-state solution”.
The left-wing NGO J Street praised Kaine and featured him on their list of supported candidates, urging visitors to the J Street website to contribute to Kaine’s senate campaign.