RAISING KAINE

Independent Senator’s 15 Reasons Hillary Clinton Should Tap Tim Kaine

He’d make a great president, he’s honest, he’s a man of deep but not showy faith, and he plays a mean harmonica. What’s not to like?

07.20.16 6:25 PM ET

Angus King is an independent senator from Maine. He caucuses with the Democrats.

With all eyes on the GOP’s mistake by the lake, it’s tempting to ignore the serious business going inside the Hillary camp – namely, picking the VP nominee. 

The conventional wisdom shortlist includes Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, augmented by reports that liberal icon and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper were seen exiting meetings at casa de Clinton in Washington D.C.

Given the unusual number of senators on the list, The Daily Beast reached out to get the take of the Senate’s only centrist independent, Maine’s Angus King. Given that his political demographic will determine the winner of this election, his insights should carry real weight—and they reflect the perspective of a person who knows many of the potential nominees as professional colleagues and has consistently expressed his colleagues respect for Sen. (and former Governor) Tim Kaine. He compiled his thoughts in an email to The Daily Beast from the North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, Maine.

Independent Senator Angus King’s 15 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton should pick Tim Kaine for VP:

1. He would make an excellent president, if the circumstances demanded it.

2. He would make an excellent president, if the circumstances demanded it.

3. He would make an excellent president, if the circumstances demanded it. You may notice that I think this is far and away the most important criterion.

4. He is smart, honest, has good judgment, and is highly principled—but he is also pragmatic, not ideological or dogmatic. 

5. He has extensive executive experience (in government, which is different from business—I know; I've done both) as a mayor, lieutenant governor, and governor.

6. He is thoughtful and knowledgeable in foreign policy; serves on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees and has engaged with the leaders of the world's most troublesome places.

7. He is a man of deep (but not showy) faith; he took a year out of his education to serve as a Catholic missionary in Central America, becoming fluent in Spanish in the process.

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8. He is a proud Democrat, but is not excessively partisan; he is genuinely respected by everyone I know in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle.

9. When he stands up to speak in the Democratic caucus, people literally stop eating or conversing and listen. I have seen him change minds, including mine.

10. He has proven his ability to lead (and be elected in) a large, diverse and politically divided state (sound like the country right now?), not by offering non-controversial solutions or avoiding difficult issues, but by taking principled positions and articulating his reasoning. He is a powerful public speaker, in both small and large groups.

11. He is completely unpretentious and un-pompous and doesn’t take himself all that seriously, a huge plus for any politician in my book.

12. He works very hard, doing a lot of his own research and getting into the details of policy and legislation. I have seen him late at night in his office rewriting an amendment by hand. 

13. He deeply cares about this country and its people in an old-fashioned 4th-of-July kind of way and is a serious student of the Constitution and our history. 

14. He is a problem-solver who is more interested in getting things done than ideological purity or purely partisan point-scoring.

15. Finally, he is fun to be with; the president and vice president spend four or eight years together in a lifeboat buffeted by high winds and challenging seas; just being amiable and a solid companion in that situation is a considerable virtue. It would be awful to have to live with a vice president you didn’t like.

Here’s the basis of my comments. We sit together on the Senate floor and in two committees (Armed Services and Budget), have traveled together (Israel, Lebanon, Afghanistan, India), and often consult with each other on difficult questions. He is one of the two or three best people I have ever met and my first call when undecided or unsure of the right answer on the toughest problems. 

He’s also a professional-level harmonica player, but has the sense to resist playing at inopportune moments.

Have I mentioned that he would be an excellent president, if the circumstances demanded it?