Pence and Kaine. Kaine and Pence. Sounds like a Wall Street law firm, but, as most of you know by now, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine are the vice presidential nominees of the GOP and Dems, respectively. The conventional wisdom is that Trump selected Pence primarily to placate the GOP’s conservative base and to strengthen the ticket’s appeal to mid-western voters. I believe that Clinton selected Kaine to appeal to the Dem moderates and “deliver” Virginia in the general election.
In any event, both appear to be “safe,” non-controversial choices. Both are experienced politicians and well-respected in their respective parties. Neither could be described as “charismatic.” Kaine, while being interviewed on Meet the Press, even described himself as “boring.” Each should be able to fulfill the primary objective of a vp selection – do no harm to the ticket. Not all of their political positions coincide with those of the presidential nominee, but that is to be expected. The idea is for the vp to sublimate his opinions to that of the president and support him (or her). Most political observers know little about these two individuals (as did I), so allow me to edify you a little.
Michael Richard Pence was born on June 7, 1959 in Columbus, Indiana. He is one of six children. His father ran a group of gas stations. His experience includes twelve years as a Congressman and four years as governor of the State of Indiana. While in the House he served as Republican Conference Chairman, which is the third highest ranking position. As governor of Indiana he cut the state income tax, eliminated the inheritance tax, maintained the state’s AAA credit rating, reinstituted a minimum ten-year sentence for certain drug crimes, banned certain abortion procedures, supported charter school programs, and opposed resettling Syrian refugees in the state.
His positions on some of the major issues are as follows:
- Has spoken out in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood.
- Has sought to modify the principle that anyone born in the US is automatically a citizen to requiring that one parent must also be a citizen. He voted against the DREAM Act, and favors strict laws against hiring illegals and increased border security, such as the Wall.
- He has been a proponent of a flat federal tax and has voted against raising the minimum wage.
- He supported military action in Iraq, supported the “surge,” and opposed publicizing a date for troop withdrawal from Iraq.
- He opposes closing Guantanamo. He favors trying terrorists by military tribunal as “military combatants” rather than as civilians in the US courts.
- He is a strong supporter of Israel, calling it “America’s most cherished ally.”
- He opposed the ACA, aka “Obamacare.”
- He has opined that it is not clear that global warming is a result of “human activity” and has labeled it a “myth,” stating that the earth is actually cooler than it was 50 years ago.
- He is a supporter of free trade, in general, and NAFTA, in particular.
- He voted against a bill that banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and does not believe homosexuals should serve in the military.
- He opposes President Obama’s directive on transgender bathrooms.
- He is a strong advocate of the Patriot Act, characterizing it as “essential” to “the war on terror.”
Timothy Michael Keane was born on February 26, 1958 in St. Paul, MN. His mother was a teacher, and his father, a welder by trade, owned an iron-working business. His varied political experience includes Mayor of Richmond, Lt. Governor of VA, Governor of VA, Chair of the Democratic National Committee and US senator.
Some of Tim Keane’s positions on the major issues are as follows:
- He supports climate change and global warming initiatives.
- He supports Roe v Wade, although he is personally opposed to abortion, and favors banning late term abortions when the mother’s life is not in danger.
- He supports same-sex marriage and banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- Although generally pro-union he supports Virginia’s “right to work” law.
- He supports the US’s nuclear agreement with Iran.
- He favors bring our troops home from Afghanistan asap, saying we have achieved our primary mission there.
- He appears not to be as strong a supporter of Israel as some other politicians, favoring a more even-handed approach in the Middle East, similar to President Obama’s.
- He favors requiring Congressional approval for military operations against ISIS.
- He opposes capital punishment, although, while governor, he presided over a limited number of executions.
- He is a gun owner, but he supports increased background checks and restrictions on the sale of certain “combat-style” weapons.
- He supports Dodd-Frank and strong regulation of the financial industry.
- He favors allowing the so-called “Bush tax cuts” to expire.
- He is a supporter of NAFTA but not TPP, at least in its “current form.”
- He supports “comprehensive” immigration reform and President Obama’s programs to defer deportation for up to five million undocumented immigrants.
- He voted for Obamacare.
Despite the foregoing, I believe this race will be all about Clinton and Trump, not their running mates. I believe that, historically, people have voted based on the presidential candidates, not their running mates. In my lifetime, the one exception was the 1960 election in which Lyndon Johnson swung the election to JFK by delivering Texas and other southern states where JFK’s support was tepid, at best.
One final thought. Fourteen vice presidents have acceded to the presidency for one reason or another. Eight so-called “accidental presidents” became president upon the deaths of the elected president. In case you’re wondering, they were John Tyler (succeeding William Henry Harrison), Millard Fillmore (Zachary Taylor), Andrew Johnson (Abraham Lincoln), Chester A. Arthur (James Garfield) Theodore Roosevelt (William McKinley), Calvin Coolidge (Warren Harding), Harry S. Truman (FDR) and Lyndon Johnson (JFK). Gerald Ford became president upon the resignation of Richard Nixon. The other five, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush were elected in their own right.
I believe history has shown some of the foregoing vice presidents to be fine presidents, but others were among our worst. Something to keep in mind, although I think either Pence or Kaine would be suitable should the situation arise.