by Steve Flowers
Political experts and historians have consistently chronicled the fact that vice presidential choices have no significant effect on the presidential race outcome.
However, this has been a very unconventional presidential political year. My assessment is that the selection of Mike Pence by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s choosing Tim Kaine were extremely wise and helpful decisions. If for nothing else, I believe that Pence insures Indiana for the GOP and Kaine sews up the pivotal swing state of Virginia for Hillary. They are both very popular in their home states and are capable and stable choices.
Republican standard bearer Donald Trump helped himself immensely with his pick of Pence. There is a glaring difference between the two. Trump’s bombastic, egotistical brashness is offset by Pence’s genuine rock solid Midwestern humble and conservative demeanor.
Pence’s presence reassures the GOP base that Trump is a conservative. It also helps shore up the evangelical voters, who may doubt Trump. Pence is a devout born again Christian family man. Mike Pence the 50th governor of Indiana was a splendid if not perfect choice for the brash New Yorker.
Pence built a sterling conservative record during his 12 years in Congress on both social and fiscal policy. As a congressman he was such a devout fiscal conservative that he persuaded his fellow Republicans to cut federal spending before approving money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and in 2008 he opposed the bank bailout.
As governor of Indiana he has cut spending, lowered taxes, and reduced regulations. He was on course to win reelection to a second four year term. However, he had to withdraw from the race when he accepted the vice presidential nomination. Therefore, unlike the other finalists he had a lot to lose by accepting the nomination.
Indiana has traditionally been a Republican state. However, in recent years it has on occasion voted for the Democratic nominee. Pence’s presence solidifies and ensures that the Hoosier state stays in the Republican column.
Hillary Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine was also a homerun. She could not have scripted someone better to be her vice presidential choice. He not only is a wise and shrewd political choice, but is uniquely qualified to be president. As Virginia’s U.S. Senator, he has served on both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. He is one of a few men in American history who has served as mayor of an American city, Richmond, Governor of a State, Virginia, and now U.S. Senator, and he is only 58 years old.
Kaine has been a close friend of the Clinton’s over the years. He was an early supporter of Bill Clinton. The Clinton’s are very compatible and have shared common campaign political support from Wall Street and big banks.
Kaine has the ideal Democratic pedigree. He was born into a working class Catholic family. His father was a unionized ironworker. While in college, he worked as a missionary to Honduras where he learned to speak fluent Spanish and worked as a Civil Rights lawyer representing those discriminated against based on race and disabilities. He then went into politics and became mayor, lieutenant governor, governor, and now Senator Kaine.
He is known as congenial and a conciliator in the Senate. He is indeed well qualified to be president. He brings two important assets to the table. Foremost he probably brings the swing State of Virginia. Secondly, his speaking fluent Spanish will help solidify the ever growing and important Hispanic vote.
Both Trump and Clinton knocked it out of the park with their choice of running mates.
The Electoral College System of selecting our president heavily favors a Democrat capturing the White House. The demographic changes in the country and philosophical leftward tilt of our nation’s politics is trending to being like the left coast of California. This Democratic advantage is inherent enough that any Republican has to have a perfect storm to win.
Trump seems determined to ensure that happens. He is writing the perfect script on how to lose a presidential race. It is a though he is running to make sure Hillary wins.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.