Tim Kaine is "the best choice Hillary Clinton pick" as a vice presidential running mate and "by far the most liberal," said the last Republican to contest the Virginia senator at the polls.
Former Sen. George Allen, R.-VA. , who lost a bid for his former seat to Kaine in 2012, spoke to me about his erstwhile opponent shortly after his selection on Saturday by soon-to-be Democratic nominee Clinton.
"He’s experienced, a very able speaker, fluent in Spanish, and he knows how to play a supportive role," said Allen, recalling how Kaine had served as lieutenant governor of the Old Dominion State under then-Gov. Mark Warner from 2001-05 before becoming governor himself . Warner and Kaine now hold Virginia’s two Senate seats.
Allen also noted that had Clinton tapped either of the two Democratic senators most frequently mentioned as her prospective running mates — Sherrod Brown of Ohio or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — their subsequent election "would very possibly have put the question of control of the Senate on the table."
"Brown would have been a big help to Clinton with Ohio, but, had they won, [Republican Gov.] John Kasich would have appointed a Republican successor," he said, "The same with Elizabeth Warren. The governor of Massachusetts [Republican Charles Baker] would have appointed her replacement."
In terms of Kaine wooing the hard left of the Democratic Party who backed Bernie Sanders over Clinton, Allen’s claim that his fellow Virginian is "by far the most liberal" is borne out by the American Conservative Union.
According to the ACU’s ratings of senators, Kaine has a lifetime rating of "zero". The same ratings show that Clinton, who served in the Senate from New York from 2000-09, accumulated a lifetime rating of 8.13 per cent.
Allen recalled his own contest with Kaine in ’12, when the two former governors competed for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Jim Webb.
"He thought sequester [to automatically have across-the-board cuts in defense spending] was a ‘good idea,’" the Republican said, "I felt it would be devastating to a state like Virginia with a large defense economy and our military readiness."
Noting that their respective records as governors were contrasted, Allen said "he was a major supporter of environmental regulations such as those dealing with fossil fuels. And he later opposed the Keystone Pipeline in the Senate. I was against those excessive regulations that would harm jobs, our competitiveness and regressively increase electricity and fuel costs.
"When I served as Governor we kept my promise to make college more affordable for working families by prioritizing more funding to freeze college tuition. Tim cut funding to higher education and college tuition soared in Virginia. Heck, he tried to raise taxes on Virginians with annual incomes as little as $17,000."
"But in the end, he won," Allen said, "And he’ll be a very strong candidate for the Democrats. But [vice presidential nominee] Mike Pence and the Republicans will have lot of material with which to debate him."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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