Saturday, August 23, 2008

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Saturday that being seriously considered as Barack Obama‘s running mate was a “surreal” experience and he understood why Delaware Sen. Joe Biden was selected instead.

Kaine described Biden as “a person of great heart” who brings a wide range of assets to the Democratic ticket.

“I think he’s made a great pick with Joe Biden,” Kaine told reporters on a conference call from Denver, where he is attending the Democratic National Convention. “It’s not just foreign policy. He has expertise in matter of the judiciary, in his work for families.”

Biden’s experience as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee helps offset what is widely perceived as an Obama weakness. It was something that Kaine, whose background is limited to state and local government, could not offer.

Kaine would not say exactly when he got word that he wasn’t the pick, or precisely what he was told. He also declined to say whether he thought problems at home, including a looming budget shortfall, damaged his chances.

“It has been surreal and kind of a beyond-your-wildest-dreams experience to be mentioned,” Kaine said.

Asked how disappointed he was, Kaine said: “I’m not feeling bad at all right now.”

He said he intends to complete his four-year term as governor.

“My complete expectation is I’m going to be governor until January 2010,” Kaine said, adding that he sees “no circumstance under which that’s not going to happen.”

Obama’s consideration of Kaine as his running mate, as well as his heavy schedule of campaign appearances in the state, has been viewed as evidence that Virginia is now a battleground state. Virginia hasn’t supported a Democrat for president since 1964, but the party has won the last two governor’s races and the last U.S. Senate race.

Jerry Kilgore, co-chairman of Republican John McCain’s campaign in Virginia, said the selection of Biden shows Obama “just wasn’t seeing the momentum in Virginia that he had hoped. Barack Obama spent two full days campaigning in Virginia, and his message is not resonating.”

But Kaine said Virginians are ready for new leadership that demonstrates good judgment on military affairs and will revive the slumping national economy.

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