- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine continued to play coy about his chances of being named Sen. Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate, saying that he had “no secret meetings” planned with the Democrat’s campaign on Tuesday and declining to discuss his conversations on the topic.

“It’s flattering to be mentioned - my mom loves it. She calls when she sees it,” Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, said about the vice presidential speculation during a morning interview on WTOP radio. But “that’s for the campaign to decide … .”

“However they decide, they’re going to make a very good decision.”

Mr. Kaine has repeatedly been mentioned as a possible running mate for Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, thanks in part to Mr. Kaine’s status as governor of a Southern state that is expected to play a key role in November’s presidential election.

The two got to know each other when Mr. Obama campaigned for Mr. Kaine in 2005: Both men also attended Harvard Law School and learned that their mothers grew up in the same small town in Kansas.

The rumors have swirled to a frenzy of late, after the media reported that Mr. Kaine has turned over documents to the Obama campaign and is a potential finalist for the presumptive nominee’s running mate.

During Tuesday’s interview - which also featured fellow Democrats Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty - Mr. Kaine declined to say whether he would accept an invitation from Mr. Obama, whether he had turned over any documents to the campaign and whether he would finish out his term as Virginia governor, which ends in January 2010.

“I’m not going to issue any statement,” said Mr. Kaine, who in February of last year became the second governor - after that of Mr. Obama’s home state of Illinois - to endorse Mr. Obama’s presidential bid. “I signed on board with Senator Obama to help him. This is about him, not about me.”

“You can opine, and I give you freedom to opine,” he said when pressed on the topic. “But I don’t have conversations about my conversations with the campaign.”

Mr. Kaine also denied rumors that he would be meeting with Obama officials for the vice-presidential vetting process while in the District on Tuesday, saying he had a date with his 13-year-old daughter Annella after the radio interview and “that’s the only thing on my calendar the rest of the day.”

He didn’t say, however, whether he had sneaked away for a meeting at some other time while the Democratic candidate was in Washington. There were gaps in Mr. Obama’s schedule Monday night and early Tuesday that would have allowed for such a meeting.

When asked whether Mr. Obama’s running mate should have foreign-policy experience - a quality missing from Mr. Kaine’s resume - the governor stressed that selecting the candidate is up to the Obama campaign and helping Mr. Obama win Virginia is his “highest and best use.”

The state has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.

Mr. Kaine also said differences that he has with Mr. Obama, such as the politicians’ respective stances on abortion, “can be a strength.” Mr. Obama is pro-choice. And Mr. Kaine says that as a Catholic, he is “personally pro-life” but does not think doctors or women who receive abortions should be criminalized.

“I have differences with my wife,” Mr. Kaine said. “When we agree two out of three times, that’s a good thing.”

On the radio show, the regional leaders discussed issues including homeland security funding and cleaning up area waterways during the program - but even an unrelated topic turned to Mr. Kaine’s potential for the vice presidential spot.

While discussing transportation solutions, Mr. O’Malley said that “Vice President Kaine” would be a “terrific advocate” and later joked that he would remove himself from the running for the spot in deference to the Virginia governor.

“I’m willing to pull myself out of consideration,” said Mr. O’Malley, who endorsed Mr. Obama’s competitor, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, during the Democratic primaries.

The vice presidential questions also continued during an impromptu news conference after the radio program in Northwest, where Mr. Kaine - a former missionary in the Honduras - was asked a few questions in Spanish and answered them fluently.

The governor said he has not “sought” the potential vice president’s spot and emphasized that he endorsed Mr. Obama in part so Virginia would swing to the Democrats.

“I’m not asking for it. I’ve never asked anything of the campaign,” Mr. Kaine said. “I didn’t endorse him to get anything; I endorsed him to help him.”

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