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Clinton picks Kaine for VP

Hillary Clinton officially selected Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate on Friday.

The Hill reports:

The announcement, made to supporters via text message and Twitter Friday evening, came after an exhaustive weeks-long vetting process by Clinton and several of her top advisers. Kaine is expected to campaign alongside Clinton in Miami on Saturday afternoon.

Clinton called Kaine Friday evening to ask him to be her running mate, a source said. Kaine — who had spent the day at a couple of fundraisers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island — immediately accepted. She also called the finalists on her shortlist. Clinton also phoned President Obama to inform him of the decision, sources say.

“Tim is a lifelong fighter for progressive causes and one of the most qualified vice presidential candidates in our nation’s history,” Clinton said in an email to supporters on Friday evening. “He’s a man of relentless optimism who believes no problem is unsolvable if you’re willing to put in the work.”

Clinton and Kaine had met twice in recent days. After campaigning together in Virginia last week, Clinton met with Kaine later in the day at her home, where they talked into the evening for about 90 minutes, according to a senior campaign aide, adding that the senator left her home around 10:30 p.m. They were joined by top aides including campaign chairman John Podesta for the first part of the meeting and then the two met privately, the aide said.

Clinton then invited Kaine and his family back to her home over the weekend, where they met with former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton. It was the only time the entire Clinton family had met with one of the potential candidates, the aide said.

That meeting came after Clinton invited other candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, over to her Washington home last Friday.

Sources say Clinton above all is comfortable with Kaine and believes he will be a good governing partner. As she was making the decision, Podesta gave her some guidance: “It needs to be someone who whenever they walk into a room you’re glad to see them and want to have them as part of any conversation.”

Kaine, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, was long considered a top contender on Clinton’s VP shortlist and appeared on the campaign trail with her in his home state last week. The governor-turned-senator was a favorite among Clinton’s innermost circle — including Bill Clinton — who told advisers in recent days that he supported the pick. He also got strong support from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and top Clinton advisers, sources say.

The selection process began after the New York primary in April. Podesta visited Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and brought her binders with info on more than two dozen candidates, the senior campaign aide said, adding that the mission was so covert, he handed the binders to Clinton in a Duane Reade shopping bag.

Clinton insiders say Kaine was selected foremost because he has the qualifications necessary for the job, particularly when it comes to national security experience. Clinton wanted someone with a thick national security portfolio, and Kaine holds seats on the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations committees.

While Clinton was intrigued by potential candidates including Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, it was the even-tempered, do-no-harm Kaine who proved to be the most qualified.

Asked by Charlie Rose about his seemingly safe and boring persona this week, Clinton replied, “I love that about him.”

A friend of Clinton’s said the pick makes sense because while Kaine is seen as in an insider in an outsider year, he appeals to a certain demographic Clinton needs to win.

“This is the ultimate signal to independents and moderate Republicans,” the friend said. “We’re happy to have them.”

But Republicans pounced on the selection. RNC chairman Reince Priebus said Kaine “does nothing to unify a fractured base which is repelled by her dishonesty and cronyism.”

“After spending last week pandering to grassroots Democrats with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton has chosen someone who holds positions that she’s spent the entire primary trying to get to the left of,” Priebus said. “Ultimately this is a ticket that represents one thing: four more years like the last eight, just with more corruption and scandal. A Clinton-Kaine administration will push our country further down the path President Obama has led us on and that has made us less safe, less prosperous, and less free. More taxes, more debt, more government and more leading from behind on the global stage will not deliver the turnaround our country desperately needs. Americans have had enough of the failed Democrat status quo.”

But those who know Kaine say his selection makes sense.

“He’s very smart, a quick study, works across the aisle and he’s never lost an election,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, where Kaine has spent some time teaching. “He’s outgoing, understated and self-efacing. He gets along with everybody but he’s willing to speak his mind if it’s something important. ”

Many Democrats have lauded Kaine in recent weeks as a top choice to be the former secretary of State’s second-in-command. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest volunteered his name in a briefing on Wednesday when asked about who President Obama might recommend to Clinton.

“Sen. Kaine was one of the first public officials to announce a public endorsement of Sen. Obama,” Earnest said at the briefing. “Sen. Kaine served as the chair of the DNC during President Obama’s first year in office and Sen. Kaine is somebody that the president deeply respects.”

But some worry that his stance on abortion and past support of restrictions, like a late-term abortion ban, could hurt the Democratic ticket among some of the party’s base.

Clinton’s decision comes just days before the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia, where she will be officially nominated.

Photo credit: Raw Story.

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