- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2016

One thing Sen. Tim Kaine doesn’t bring to the Democratic ticket is an exciting stump speech or a knack for making news — and analysts say that’s exactly what Hillary Clinton needs in a vice presidential pick.

The self-described “boring” senator from Virginia has stayed on message in the weeks since his selection, taking Mrs. Clinton’s focus-group-tested talking points to battleground states such as North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan and Florida, while venturing into traditionally red-state territory such as Texas, where the campaign hopes his folksy style will appeal to white working-class voters.

Analysts say Mr. Kaine’s bland yet steady approach, along with his decades of public service as a mayor, governor and now a senator, are proving an asset to the campaign and ensure the focus will remain on Mrs. Clinton, not on her running mate. That likely wouldn’t have been the case if Mrs. Clinton had tapped a more high-profile, charismatic figure such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to serve as her No. 2.

“He doesn’t have a huge ego,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who worked with Mr. Kaine when the senator also taught at the school.

“He makes a nice complement to Hillary. … People like him, and there isn’t a trust issue” like there is with Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Tobias said.

The former governor also has been engaged in partisan wars, having served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the tough 2010 election cycle.

“He’s likable,” Mr. Tobias said. “He’s someone you would want to have a beer with. … He’s articulate, but he can be an attack dog if he needs to be.”

Although he seems content to live in Mrs. Clinton’s shadow, Mr. Kaine has had to make a number of key policy adjustments over the past month to bring him in line with his new boss. After being picked July 23, he quickly reversed course on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, abandoning his past support of the massive Pacific Rim trade deal and joining Mrs. Clinton and other progressives who vehemently oppose it.

He also said he would work to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans public funding for abortions, even though he personally supports the measure. Mrs. Clinton opposes the amendment and has said she would work to overturn it if president.

Most recently, Mr. Kaine said he has changed positions and now opposes offshore drilling after years of supporting the practice. In explaining his reversal, he cited Defense Department concerns about the impact offshore drilling could have on military operations off the coast of Virginia. The senator said he now supports Mrs. Clinton’s call to ban offshore drilling.

Those changes and others may put Mr. Kaine in danger of being labeled a flip-flopper, but in some respects, they put him in even greater alignment with Mrs. Clinton. The former first lady also disavowed the Trans-Pacific Partnership after backing it, and she has come to support debt-free college, a “public option” for the struggling Obamacare health insurance exchanges and other liberal priorities she previously shied away from.

“Let’s think about this: Progressives have to bite their tongue and vote for Hillary Clinton given the changes that she’s made. … She’s modified or changed innumerable positions, so why would they care if Kaine does?” said G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Pennsylvania’s Franklin and Marshall College.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Kaine has made little news and generally has stuck to the campaign’s script, rehashing Mrs. Clinton’s five-point economic plan and other platform planks.

He has, however, gradually turned up the heat on Republican Donald Trump. Speaking in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, Mr. Kaine recounted the Republican presidential nominee’s past comments about Sen. John McCain. Mr. Trump, in one of the most cited comments of his unconventional campaign, said he didn’t consider Mr. McCain, a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, to be a hero because he was captured by the enemy.

“What rational person would even have that thought come into their own head, much less have the words come out of their lips?” Mr. Kaine said. “That is an ignorant, insensitive, thickheaded comment, and this guy wants to be commander in chief? He shouldn’t be within 10 time zones of being commander in chief with comments like that.”

Mr. Kaine’s stop in Iowa was his latest spin through a tough battleground state.Since July 23, he has held at least 20 public events, and almost all have been in battleground states, including multiple events in North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, along with stops in his home state of Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

But there is evidence the Clinton campaign believes Mr. Kaine may do some good in Republican-leaning states. He has held a campaign event in deep-red Texas and addressed the Progressive National Baptist Convention in New Orleans.

He also reportedly will head to Idaho and Wyoming to headline fundraisers over the next week.

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