In the last three months, Tim Kaine has crisscrossed the country, been taunted by WikiLeaks, dropped in on a World Series game, attended his high school reunion with Secret Service agents in tow, rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, posed for untold number of selfies, played harmonica for millions of TV watchers, and spawned a thousand “dad jokes” on the internet.
Now the Democratic vice presidential nominee is wrapping up a whirlwind three months on the campaign trail in front of a home crowd.
“I like the energy I’m seeing in Virginia,” Kaine told a crowd on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax at a Monday night rally where he was joined by Vice President Joe Biden.
It’s a rare stop in his home state, as the U.S. senator and former Virginia governor has been on the road nearly every day since being tapped as Clinton’s running mate in late July. With Clinton long favored to win in Virginia, Kaine has spent much of his time in key swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The typical campaign day has been packed with interviews, rallies and fundraisers and Kaine has spent countless hours on a private charter plane or zipping along highways in motorcades.
Tom Wolf, a former law partner who joined Kaine on the campaign trail, said his longtime friend is having fun and staying “centered” despite the long hours.
“He genuinely enjoys campaigning, he likes meeting new people,” said Wolf.
Kaine has been a guest on late night TV, played harmonica with rock stars at rallies and fundraisers, and even attended his 40th high school reunion in Kansas City, Missouri.
But Kaine’s time on the trail has been largely low key. Republican Donald Trump and Clinton — or her more high-profile surrogates like President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama — have dominated the daily news cycles and left Kaine sometimes looking like the forgotten candidate. Kaine has also spent virtually no time campaigning with Clinton, and he said they sometimes go a week without talking.
Kaine has plowed on as reliable foot soldier, dutifully attacking Trump in standard stump speeches before audiences large and small while avoided making any noticeable missteps that could draw negative attention. Though his appearance on the biggest stage, the vice presidential debate, received criticism on his aggressive style and constant interruptions of Republican Mike Pence.
Much of Kaine’s time on the trail was initially spent on the private fundraiser circuit, often doing several such events a day. In recent weeks, Kaine has used his Spanish fluency to be a key surrogate for Clinton among Hispanic voters. He’s done about 50 interviews with Spanish-speaking media outlets and given some speeches entirely in Spanish.
WikiLeaks, which has been posting stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, twice taunted Kaine that he’s in for a “surprise.” U.S. intelligence officials have said the leaked Podesta emails are part of a series of high-profile computer hacks of Democratic targets orchestrated by the Russian government.
But WikiLeaks has so far not published anything damning about Kaine, who has shrugged off the threats.
Kaine’s Virginia homecoming comes amid tightening polls numbers in the state and The Associated Press has moved the Old Dominion from strong Democratic to leaning Democratic. Trump and Pence have made repeated visits to Virginia.
Once a reliably Republican state, Virginia went twice for Obama and Kaine has said that helping turn the state blue in 2008 is among his greatest political accomplishments as governor. Kaine frequently talks about Virginia’s shifting politics in speeches around the country. And when Kaine made a brief return to his home state for the vice presidential debate, Kaine told his fellow Virginia Democrats they should be proud of the progress they’ve made.
“Do you see how far we’ve come,” Kaine said.
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