During a June appearance on “Meet the Press,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia agreed with the one negative thing people say about him that he can’t seem to shake.
“I am boring,” he said. “But boring is the fastest-growing demographic in this country.”
A scandal-free Catholic man fluent in Spanish who once did missionary work, he might be what Hillary Clinton decides she needs in a running mate. The junior senator from Virginia — who grew up in Overland Park and still has family here — campaigned with Clinton in northern Virginia on Thursday.
By many accounts, Kaine is on her VP short list.
But is he too nice for the job?
“In the most hard-bitten, vitriolic campaign in generations, it is far from certain that Kaine is ferocious enough to combat Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee who tramples all manner of political decorum,” The Washington Post wrote Thursday.
Here are 13 things to know about the man who would be vice president:
1. He has strong Kansas City area ties. The oldest of three boys, 58-year-old Kaine was born in St. Paul, Minn., but grew up in Overland Park, where his mom, Kathleen, was a home economics teacher and dad, Al, owned an ironworking shop.
Dad would get them up early on Saturday mornings to work at the shop.
“My dad was a great business guy, and he always taught us that his business acumen would put his workers’ kids through school and their great artistry … would put my brothers and me through school,” Kaine said in a recent interview with C-SPAN.
“So it was a really wonderful place to learn about hard work and not cutting corners, and excellence. And also you’ve got to be a team if you’re going to be successful. My dad taught me a lot of really good values through that business.”
2. Kaine’s parents, who are both 81, and his two younger brothers live in the Kansas City area, according to the news website Heavy. Stephen Kaine is a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Patrick and his wife own a law firm.
3. He was a big Royals fan growing up. Kaine and his younger brothers used to round up kids in the neighborhood for backyard games, according to a 2005 profile by The Virginian-Pilot.
4. Kaine’s parents moved him from public school to Rockhurst High School when he started goofing off in school, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Kaine didn’t like the idea of going to school with all boys.
“I remember arguing with my parents and saying they really couldn’t afford this, that it would be better to save their money for the family,” he told the Virginia newspaper. “I was making a very altruistic argument to try to appeal to their pocketbook.”
At Rockhurst, Kaine was a yell leader, debate team member and student president, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
5. He’s a Mizzou grad. He planned to major in journalism but changed his mind when he found his classmates too cynical for his tastes. He got a bachelor’s degree in economics instead.
6. He graduated from Harvard Law School, where he met his wife, Anne Holton, the daughter of former Republican governor Linwood Holton of Virginia. They were in a study group together. She baked cookies for him to get his attention, according to U.S. News & World Report. It worked. The Kaines have three children: Nat, Woody and Annella.
7. He is fluent in Spanish, which he learned during a one-year Catholic missionary trip he took to Honduras while he was at Harvard. In 2013, he gave a 13-minute speech in Spanish during a Senate debate on immigration, becoming the first senator to deliver a full speech on the Senate floor in a language other than English.
When he ran for Virginia governor, he largely ignored the state’s conservative rural areas and campaigned heavily in the suburbs of northern Virginia, where his fluency in Spanish helped him bond with a growing Hispanic population, according to the Post.
8. He was the first Catholic governor of Virginia. He recently joked on C-SPAN that his parents were so devout that “if we got back from a vacation on a Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. they would know the one church in Kansas City that had an 8 p.m. Mass that we can make.”
9. He worked his way up through the political ranks. He’s a former mayor of Richmond, former Virginia governor, former Democratic National Committee chairman and now Virginia’s junior U.S. senator. When he was governor he cut the state budget by more than $5 billion and took a cut in his own salary, according to Heavy.
10. He is noted for his scandal-free political life. However, he accepted $160,000 worth of gifts between the years of 2001 and 2009 as lieutenant governor and governor, Politico reported. They were mostly for travel and political events and conferences, including an $18,000 Caribbean vacation. The gifts were all legal under Virginia’s lax gift laws, according to news accounts.
“The boy is cleaner than the Board of Health,” Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, a Democratic political consultant who says he’s voting for Trump, told the Post. “If it’s one thing Hillary needs, it’s clean.”
Republicans also acknowledge that Kaine would not be an easy target.
“It’s hard to find any flies on Tim Kaine,” former congressman Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, told the Post. “He’s a thoroughly honest and decent man.”
11. He was once skewered by Jon Stewart. Just after he became governor, Democratic leaders picked Kaine to give the party’s rebuttal to President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech.
Stewart ripped him on “The Daily Show” for a wooden performance, saying Kaine “lacked passion, insight or any sign of carbon-based life.”
12. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride? Kaine was also a finalist for Barack Obama’s vice presidential spot in 2008.
13. He plays the harmonica.