August 24, 2008

Kaine Falls Briskly in Line to Back Biden


By Julian Walker

The Virginian-Pilot


Gov. Timothy M. Kaine called the process surrounding his potential vice presidential candidacy "surreal" Saturday morning.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, announced Delaware's Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate in an e-mail sent in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Kaine had been on a short list for the spot.

Hours later in a conference call from Denver, Kaine offered hearty praise about Biden as a lawmaker with an amazing public service record and "a man of great heart." Kaine cited Biden's foreign policy experience and legislative accomplishments, such as 1994's Violence Against Women Act .

Sounding relaxed, Kaine also acknowledged some relief that the storm of speculation about the No. 2 spot had passed.

"It was kind of a 'beyond your wildest dreams' experience to be mentioned," the governor said. "It was flattering ... but not anything I ever sought or asked for."

Kaine is in the Mile High City with his family to participate in the Democratic National Convention, which starts Monday.

Obama and Biden appeared in Springfield, Ill., where Obama announced his presidential bid in 2007, before heading to Denver.

Kaine's role at the convention has not been settled, Kaine said, before alluding to some kind of speaking slot.

"I have a mixture of feelings," he said, before noting that without the added vice presidential pressure, "I'm going to have a lot more fun this week."

When pressed by reporters, Kaine declined to specify when he learned he would not be Obama's running mate.

The Obama campaign confirmed that the two met privately Thursday morning in downtown Richmond before a joint appearance in nearby Chesterfield County.

Kaine stopped short of guaranteeing that he will fulfill the remaining time on his term as governor if Obama is elected and offers him an administration job.

"It is my complete intention to be governor through January 2010," Kaine averred.

Those remaining 16 months are almost certain to be filled with challenges.

One of Kaine's first tasks will be making perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to the state budget due to the anemic economy. He will continue to wrestle with a somewhat hostile General Assembly, half of which is controlled by Republicans, over issues such as transportation, education funding, gun control measures and environmental protections.

While the monthlong speculation about his chance to be a running mate came with some tensions, Kaine acknowledged, political observers say the attention is generally a positive for the governor.

"Kaine may look like an also-ran, but he was a big winner in this process," said University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato.

"When the speculation began, his name ID outside of Virginia was around zero. Now the whole political community has learned a lot about him, and he got very favorable treatment overall."

Julian Walker, (804) 697-1564,

[email protected]

Kaine's term

The governor stopped short of guaranteeing that he will fulfill the remaining time on his term if Obama is elected president and offers him an administration job.

Originally published by BY JULIAN WALKER.

(c) 2008 Virginian - Pilot. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.