PHILADELPHIA — The Tim Kaine who won the Virginia governorship in 2005 sounds like he belongs more on the Republican ticket than as running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
At the time he was a self-proclaimed pro-life “conservative” who openly quoted the Bible in his ads and checked off nearly every other box on conservatives’ wish list.
“The truth is, I cut taxes as mayor of Richmond. I’ll enforce the death penalty as governor, and I’m against same-sex marriage,” Mr. Kaine said in one of his ads. “I’m conservative on personal responsibility, character, family and the sanctity of life. These are my values, and that’s what I believe.”
In another ad, Mr. Kaine said he personally opposes abortion and while he would not halt the procedure because its what the law allows, he did detail a number of restrictions he would support: requiring minors to get parental consent, banning the late-term procedure dubbed partial-birth abortion and halting any public financing for abortion.
One of the campaign ads, which featured Mr. Kaine’s voice, was titled “Conservative.”
Mr. Kaine, now a U.S. senator, will accept the Democratic vice presidential nomination Wednesday, and his selection is doing little to quell dissension among party liberals who fear Mrs. Clinton is preparing to tack to the political center after the convention.
“Her vice president pick revealed who she is,” said Alexis Edelstein, a California delegate to the convention who supported Sen. Bernard Sanders and refuses to back Mrs. Clinton.
Liberal activist groups sounded warnings about Mr. Kaine when Mrs. Clinton selected him last week, saying his support for free trade deals makes it tougher to sell the Democratic ticket to average American voters.
Mr. Kaine did win praise from some parts of the Democratic coalition, including environmentalists, Hispanic rights groups and campaign finance reformers.
Perhaps most enthusiastic for Mr. Kaine were gun control groups, which praised him for his record on firearms, particularly during his term as governor.
“Tim Kaine doesn’t just talk on gun safety; he walks the walk,” said Shannon Watts, founder of the gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “The Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine ticket is the exact kind of gun safety ticket Americans need in the White House, and moms and survivors will work tirelessly to make sure they are the next president and vice president in November.”
In his first appearance alongside Mrs. Clinton last week, Mr. Kaine made clear that gun control is one of his top priorities. A longtime advocate for gun control legislation, Mr. Kaine was Virginia’s governor during the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, an event that he says left a lasting impact on him and drove him to take a number of executive actions on guns.
“That was the worst day of my life,” Mr. Kaine said at a campaign rally in Miami last weekend, referring to the Virginia Tech shooting. “Hillary and I will not rest, will not rest, until we get universal background checks and close loopholes that put guns in the hands of criminals, terrorists and dangerous people who should not have them. It’s so easy. The American public wants it, gun owners want it, NRA members want it. We will not rest.”
In the months after the tragedy, he signed an executive order to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. He also blocked legislation that would have let Virginians carry firearms in their glove boxes, along with a bill that would have allowed gun owners to take their weapons into bars.
Perhaps most surprising was the reaction of pro-choice groups to Mr. Kaine. They said they looked beyond his words and instead studied his actions as a senator, where his voting record established him as a pro-choice champion.
Likewise, gay rights groups pronounced Mr. Kaine a “solid” pick — despite opposition in his 2005 ads to same-sex marriage.
Mr. Kaine’s Senate office didn’t respond to The Washington Times, nor did the Clinton-Kaine campaign.
But CNN reported that Mr. Kaine “privately” made a deal during negotiations with Mrs. Clinton to support taxpayer funding of abortions — going back on his firm pledges during the 2005 campaign.
Ray Allen, a Republican consultant who worked for Mr. Kaine’s opponent in the 2005 gubernatorial election, said that while the Democrat was running pro-life ads on Christian radio in the conservative, southern part of Virginia, he was running television commercials in Northern Virginia claiming he was pro-choice.
“That tells you all you need to know about Tim Kaine,” Mr. Allen said.
He said the radio ads were so stark that the Republican Party paid to have them replayed as robocalls to voters in Northern Virginia, trying to tamp down liberal voters’ enthusiasm for him.
“I think it’s a fair question to ask him — are you a pro-life conservative or actually pro-abortion and want to have people pay for abortions?” Mr. Allen said.
• S.A. Miller contributed to this report.