Sen. Obama, Why Not Gov. Tim Kaine?
I understand Sen. Obama's purpose in picking Sen. Biden as his running mate: shore up some foreign policy "gravitas" (to the extent the sometimes bufoonish Sen. Biden and "gravitas" aren't mutually exclusive) by adding an experienced member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the ticket. But, in picking a "pro-choice" Catholic, Obama has placed the abortion issue front and center, as noted by Deacon Keith Fournier in the editorial that I blogged about here.
That wouldn't have happened with Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. In fact, I believe Gov. Kaine could have helped Obama win the election for 3 reasons:
(1) Gov. Kaine would have actually HELPED Obama with the Catholic vote. In fact, he might have helped Obama WIN the Catholic vote. Gov. Kaine doesn't have the same problem that many other Catholic Democrats do because he doesn't have a "pro-choice" voting record for people like me to point to, and is arguably fairly pro-life. And, as far as that goes, unlike my decision to get involved in the "Catholics Against Rudy" and "Catholics Against Joe Biden" efforts, I would've declined the invitation to join a blog called "Catholics Against Tim Kaine". I just really don't find that much objectionable about him from a Catholic standpoint.
(2) Gov. Kaine could have helped Obama win Virginia. Many pundits are claiming that Virginia is "in play" this year, a contention about which I have my doubts. The Commonwealth was supposedly in play in 2004 (recall that the networks wouldn't even call Virginia until much later in the evening than they called states that Kerry won by only a few points), despite the fact that Bush won it by 8 points. However, I do believe Virginia will be closer than that this year, and Kaine may have been able to tip the scales toward Obama. At the very least, McCain would've had to expend major resources in a state that has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1952, with the exception of LBJ's landslide in 1964.
(3) An Obama-Kaine ticket would have retained Obama's biggest selling points: fresh faces; faith-oriented; new; different; change. Sure, McCain could have tried to beat them up on the experience issue with more "Not ready to lead" stuff. But deft politicians know how to turn that to their advantage, especially in a year in which voters are in a "throw the bums out" mood. Obama-Kaine REALLY would have had a claim to being a "new kind of politics" (not so much, Sen. Obama, but definitely, Gov. Kaine). With Sen. Biden, however, we get another tired, old Washington insider who offers little more than rhetoric (a propensity to "shoot from the lip") and ego ... and a "pro-choice" voting record that will get LOTS of play and keep the issue front and center.
Sen. Biden was a "safe" choice, unlikely to do any real damage (although the abortion issue could bite them), but also unlikely to light any fires. Sen. Obama could have really shaken things up by picking Gov. Kaine. Considering that the ONLY downside of lack of experience could be turned to his advantage by spinning it as a "fresh face" from outside the Beltway, coupled with the advantages of picking a "moderate" Southerner from a potential "swing" state who can make some claims to being a pro-life Catholic (and really meaning it), I believe Sen. Obama lost out on a big opportunity by not taking Gov. Kaine as his running mate.