If any of the 15 or so friends of Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine disagreed with his politics at their debate watch party on Tuesday night, their lips were sealed.
“I think we’re just proud as peacocks about his achievements,” said Terence O’Malley, who graduated with Kaine from Rockhurst High School, class of 1976.
After bowls of soup and slices of cake served up in a Mission Hills home a few miles from their alma mater, alumni of the all-boys Jesuit preparatory school gathered with wives and friends around the TV.
They spent most of the debate hushed as Kaine and his GOP counterpart — Donald Trump running mate and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — wasted little time trying to speak over each other.
But this night for the Rockhurst bunch really wasn’t about weighing political arguments. It was about sharing memories of each other and how their buddy Tim, as student council president, had mastered Robert’s Rules of Order before ever grabbing the gavel.
Classmates had elected Kaine to that post over fellow senior Marty Meyers, who attended the watch party.
“He hasn’t lost a race since,” said Meyers, who didn’t let pass that he defeated Kaine a year earlier to become junior class president — the last person to get more votes than Kaine in a political showdown.
“We all have our own politics,” Meyers noted, “but as a person and in politics Tim’s success shines…He’s just a good guy.”
Alumnus Keith Connor agreed: “Out of a class of 200 students…we were blessed that year to have had a great group. Some great athletes, great scholars. Tim wasn’t an athlete but we all intermingled.”
By the time Kaine and Pence had traded televised jabs over Trump’s federal income taxes, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and both presidential aspirants’ fitness to lead, classmate O’Malley rose to refresh his drink in the kitchen.
The rest of the group said little as the debate passed the halfway mark. But O’Malley offered a defense of sorts of his old school buddy’s sparring opponent.
“The Republicans might be better off with Mike Pence at the top of the ticket,” he said.
Kaine, who grew up with two brothers in Overland Park, is a U.S. senator from Virginia who also served as that state’s governor. He attended the University of Missouri and Harvard School of Law before settling with his wife in Richmond, Va.
From his own home in Kansas City, brother Pat Kaine watched the debate with his family and said later that “Tim looked very well prepared.”
Then Pat Kaine switched to the American League baseball’s wild-card playoff game.
“I didn’t watch the analyses after the debate,” he said. “I think I can do my own.”