tv Senator Tim Kaine Discusses His Life and Career CSPAN July 23, 2016 1:26am-2:17am EDT
democratic presidential candidate hillary clinton has announced that virginia senator tim kaine is her choice to be her vice presidential running mate. he is 58 years old. he was also chair of the democratic national committee. willrow, hillary clinton hold a campaign rally in miami. expected to bes there. our live road to the white house coverage begins at noon. in this recent american profile interview, c-span talks with
virginia senator tim kaine about growing up in kansas city, his move to richmond, his early career and tenure as governor of virginia. this is about 45 minutes. >> how did somebody born in st. paul, minnesota, raised outside of kansas city, end up in richmond, virginia? sen. kaine: i grew up in kansas city. my parents were from kansas farm towns. my dad got a job in st. paul. after a couple of years, they were homesick. i had been born in st. paul. they moved back to kansas city. i was raised in the midwest. i went to harvard law school. i met this beautiful virginian. when we decided to get married, we were looking in both places. i learned what a great negotiator she was. we have been in richmond for 32 years.
we absolutely love it. >> let's talk about growing up in kansas city. the oldest of three boys. sen. kaine: two great brothers, steve is a pediatric cardiologist. he operates on the hearts of newborn babies. any time i think i have a hard job with pressure, i remember my brother steve. my brother pat, he and his wife have a law firm. they focus on the sale of commercial aircraft. they are both wonderful guys with kids. i was the one that got away. my parents are 81 and still alive and my brothers live close to them. they do like visiting virginia. >> i read that you were up early on saturday mornings, worked at your dad's iron shop? sen. kaine: my dad had a company called iron crafters. he ran it for 25 plus years.
it was an iron working and welding shop. it was largely a shop that would make things -- bicycle frames, ornamental iron work balconies. classic midwestern manufacturing business. up early to try to work before it got hot. my dad was a great business guide and he taught us his business acumen is what put his workers' kids through school. it was a wonderful place to learn about hard work and not cutting corners. you have to be a team if you're going to be successful. my dad taught me a lot of really good values through that business. >> what did you learn about iron
work? sen. kaine: years later, when i was at harvard law school, i took a year off to work with missionaries in honduras. i landed there, taking a year off of school, they said, ok. harvard law school has zero relevance to what we are doing. but didn't your dad do something in the trades? so i ran their vocational school. i recruited the successor who followed me when i went back to law school. i learned a lot about life values from my dad in the business and the little bit of iron working i learned was enough to add that curriculum into the school and teach kids some of the basics of welding.
>> what were you like in high school? sen. kaine: kind of a nerdly student. i love learning. especially reading. if you asked teachers or asked people i was with, they would say i always had my nose in a book. i was active in student government and in the student newspaper. we had a great athletics program. the main thing i remember about high school, taking off intellectually. it was a jesuit high school. the jesuit order of the catholic church has a tradition in social justice and they tried to teach you to measure your life by the effects you could have on other people's lives.
my high school experience was fantastic. >> was a transformational for you? sen. kaine: in some ways, it started a transformation. my parents are great, fantastic irish catholics. i always joke about my parents, if we got back sunday night from a trip to kansas city, they would always know where the 8:30 p.m. mass was. my parents did not talk that much about their faith. preach the gospel, use words if necessary. high school was the place we started doing a lot of talking about faith and spirituality and that me and a seeker mode. it led me to take this year off
and go to honduras and it has continued to lead me. high school was a key part of my transition into an adult life. instead of just accepting the answers of my parents or others, i've been a person who has wanted to go out and find the answers on my own. and the jesuits get credit for that. i do what i do because of spiritual reasons. everybody has motivations in life. almost feel like i am always -- whatever i'm doing, i have an
inner dialogue going that is a spiritual dialogue. what is the broader significance of this interview? what is the broader significance of the vote i am taking? i am only thinking about the momentary reality and the way it connects with the bigger matters of what is important in life. i try to approach my job that way. and be upfront with people about it. not because i want anybody else to be me. i sort of feel like sharing my motivation with others is a good thing and if i do that, i hope others will share their motivations with me and that is how i can learn and get to be better at what i do and better as a person. i have a spiritual phrase i use -- it was written by george fox. in 11 words, it conveys a spiritual philosophy. walk cheerfully over the earth answering that of god in everyone. walk -- move, be active.
cheerfully -- be upbeat. answering -- you cannot answer if you don't listen. find the divine spark in each person. that is my discipline i try to use and what i do as a person. >> i want to talk about honduras. you went to the university of missouri and you initially started in journalism. sen. kaine: i came of age during watergate and crusading journalists made a huge impression on me growing up. i will tell you would joke. i started to work on the student paper and everybody who was
there like me, they were too cynical. man, i cannot believe how cynical these folks are and if i hang out with them, i will not be fit to live with. i decided to get out of journalism and i went into the uncynical careers of lawyer and politician. i had a great gpa and i did well on my law school boards and i remember going to talk to my advisor in the economics department, talking about going to law school. he said, have you thought about trying to go to harvard or yale or stanford? with your scores, you could go anywhere. that thought had never occurred to me.
i applied to a bunch of schools and i got into harvard and i decided to go. i have never stepped foot on campus until the day i showed up for classes. it was a bit of a culture shock. i met my wife there so that was worth triple the tuition. it was an amazing experience. >> you were in law school for one year and decide to take a break. why honduras? what did you do? sen. kaine: i had gone through college in three years. when i started at harvard at age 21, i might've been the youngest person in my class. all of these people i met, they
worked as journalists, they had traveled around the world. i remember thinking, why am i rushing? and also, i don't really know what i want to do with my life and everybody else seems so sure. they were just better actors than me. what if i took some time off? the high school i went to had a connection with a jesuit mission in honduras and i had been once in high school in 1974. this is now 1980. is there something i could do to really take a step away and learn and then decide on my path in life? when i was in honduras, i always thought i could come back and volunteer one day. i decided to write to these guys. i got a letter back from there and they said, yes. i marched into the dean's office
and i said, i want to take a year off. i remember their reaction. they checked to see if i had unpaid bills. they checked my grades. they had not really confronted that. i knew i needed to maybe step away from the treadmill a little bit to figure out what i wanted to do with my life and i felt like going to honduras and spending that year helping and learning. it was all that and much more. i was there in 1980 and 1981. most of the missionaries were spaniards, some americans, and hondurans. when i came back, it put me on a path. my wife and i went back for our
20th wedding anniversary. this picture was ash wednesday in 2015. i asked senator cornyn from texas, president obama wants to make a big investment in central america. the community i worked with was at the heart of this. he said, come to mexico and talk about energy reform and i will come with you to honduras to learn about this issue. we went to mass at the main parish in the central square. unbeknownst to me, they reached
out to all of the jesuits who had been there when i was there and ask them to celebrate mass. the guy in the center, he had been my roommate for a while, and he was now a priest in guatemala. he came back from guatemala. they were part of the jesuit community. doing great work. they all came up the aisle as the professional happened. i think i know those guys. it was a very moving experience. we went back and visited the school. when i was there, 25 kids. when i left, 60 kids.
and now it is about 200 kids. and then we went to the graveyard on the hill where a lot of our friends are buried. it was a really special visit. >> when you were there in the early 1980's, what did you learn about the people of honduras? and what did you learn about america? sen. kaine: this would be an hour and a half. what i learned was happiness is not that correlated with wealth. happiness is correlated with are you a giving person or not?
i learned from them that happiness is spread around the human condition. i learned the power of faith to deal with and understand adversity. i was getting tired of the catholic worship i was used to, big suburban parish, 45-minute mass because you had to empty the parking lot. here, mass was 2.5 hours long and it was so vibrant and chaotic and fun. i learned how a strong spiritual life can help you deal with the challenges we all face in life. i do not think you can understand the things about your own culture until you step outside of it. you take things for granted. honduras was a military dictatorship. the jesuits were persona non
grata with the military. i lived with people who prayed for the day they could vote for anything. but i was living in a country where voting turnout was low. it really made a believer in me about our system. the rule of law is a whole lot better than the iron fist people still live under all over the world. if you are in a society that gives you the privilege to participate, you have to take advantage of it. the pictures of my friends waiting in line with big smiles on their faces because they could finally participate.
you see those pictures from all around the globe. it taught me about things we take for granted. physical things we take for granted, opportunities. having the opportunity as a regular person to participate in choosing your leader, that was a lesson to me about our own culture. >> how did you meet your wife? sen. kaine: my wife and i are the same age. for three weeks of the year, she is older than me. she had gone to princeton and because i've gone through college in three years, i started law school a year ahead. i came back, we both were involved in a clinical activity at harvard where they would send law students out to do disciplinary hearings and to test yourself on your feet. ann was really involved in this organization.
she was supposed to recruit new members. this guy is coming back, can you make an effort to convince them to come back and work? she claims she was trying to convince me to come back and was trying to convince me to pay attention to her and we were in classes together and she made chocolate chip cookies once for a study group. her side of the story, from the day of those chocolate chip cookies, i was a goner. we started dating in the middle of that year and we've been together ever since, married 32 years this november. she is my public service hero. she has been a legal aid lawyer and a juvenile judge. and now she is secretary of
education in virginia. she is a public servant and mother and sister and wife. she juggles all of those roles and makes it seem so easy. >> is she only the second person to serve as a daughter of a governor and the wife of one? kaine: thomas jefferson's daughter patsy, jefferson was virginia's second governor. patsy was the wife of a governor. my wife is the only person to have lived in the governor's mansion as a child and then as an adult. one really special memory of me becoming governor in 2006 was at the end of the long day of being sworn in and inaugural events, we go back to the governor's
mansion and they say to me, welcome home, governor. and they say to my wife, welcome back home. she had told all the kids about the tricks they used to play on people. she wishes she had not. we had a remarkable time as governor. a huge honor to have the job. being able to be back in what had been her girlhood home and have her parents, who had been transformative leaders at a difficult time in virginia, to share that experience with us. >> what is your father-in-law like? sen. kaine: my father-in-law, the first elected republican governor in virginia. he is my political hero. he came back from being a
submariner in world war ii -- in the first election after he got back, 8% participated. it was a one-party state. he came back and said, i have been fighting for democracy and i am coming back to a one-party state. i will try to build up a competitive two-party system. he built up a republican party that was the progressive alternative to the segregationist democrats. he ran for governor in 1965 and lost. all the while building the party. in 1969, the naacp supported him, organized labor supported him. when he integrated the school, it was an act of courage and principle and he was frozen out of electoral politics in
virginia. he was a 48-year-old ex-governor who tried to run for the senate. people were really mad at him about what he had done to try to bring about a better day in virginia. now he is 92 years old and people look at what he and his wife -- because his wife was his partner in all of this -- they look at what they did, that was a guy who had a tough time, had to make it tough call, and he made it the right way. he changed virginia. for that reason, he is my great
hero. he gives me a lot of advice. when i am smart, i follow it. >> let me ask you about the picture up there. sen. kaine: it is very unique in american history. it was on the front page of "the new york times" when the school busing integration order came down and he decided, we are not fighting it and said we will embrace integration, the best way to do it was that his own family would participate. the governor's mansion is in the heart of the in richmond. if i'm going to say that school integration is a good thing, my kids should go to the neighborhood schools, which were almost completely african-american schools. education is important and kids
should be able to sit down together regardless of race. that is my father-in-law and my wife's sister walking into kennedy high school on the opening day of school and it was on the front page of "the new york times." a lot of pictures of southern governors blocking the schoolhouse door trying to keep black kids from sitting next to white kids. only one picture of a southern governor escorting his daughter into school saying, integration is good. and it is not just for other people. that influence has been so powerful on me and on my wife. in my career fighting for civil rights in virginia in the area of housing discrimination, and in my work as a mayor in a very diverse city, and in my work as governor and senator, his work
is the one i try to take inspiration from. >> how did city council prepare you for serving in congress? sen. kaine: being in local office is the best training for being in any office. partisanship was not important. i have always been a democrat. i became a democrat the day i realized my parents were republicans. it was about results. partisanship was not important. if people did not see the
tangible effects of what you did, you are not getting reelected. in local office, you are accessible. people will stop you in the grocery store. i once had a woman rear end my pickup truck on broad street. did i just run into the mayor? there is the zoning issue coming up in city hall next week. you are really up close and personal. you can make people happier and madder in local office than in any other office. starting in that place where partisan was important and relationship was important that to me has been the base of everything i've done in government since. >> you then went on to be governor. how did you approach that? >> i was lieutenant governor to
a longtime friend. matt warner and i met at harvard lawsuit. he was a kid in connecticut. and i was a kid from cost city. i reconnected with him when he was in the governor's campaign in 1989. and then we were friends. but the real job of the lieutenant governor was presiding there. i had one-on-one meeting with every senator to say what do you expect to see in a predecider? and i just listened. it really proved to be really helpful. virginia was a one-term governor. i knew mark would be governor for four years. i learned everything i could from him. i hopefully would be better at it.
and mark was a really good governor. he was a governor during some tough times. but then i was the governor during the worst economic crisis since the 1930's. the horrible shooting at virginia tech that occurred when i was governor. the experience of having been mayor which was really tough because of some public safety issues and dealing with challenging issues being at mark's right hand as lieutenant governor helped me prepare to be governor. >> where were you that day? what did that tell you about guns in virginia, guns in america and the issue of mental health? senator tim kaine: i had been an elected official in a place where i went to too many crime scenes and too many funerals and in victim's families and churchs.
but that day in particular, worse day of my life. i had left to go on a trade mission with 100 business leaders from virginia to japan and india. we had just landed in japan and literally land, gone to the hotel, checked in. and i had just fallen asleep. and the head of my security calls back, you have to call back, there's been a horrible incident in virginia. it was unfolding and we still didn't really know. i just said get me back to the airport. ann and i are flying back. as we're sitting in the airport lounge the tragedy sun folding. 32 people killinged.
so many more injured -- 32 people killed. so many injured. this person who had mental health issues who were not being treated. the 33 people. president bush offered to fly me back. he and i went and spoke to the tech community the day after the shooting. and that began a real period of soul searching where i tried to do two things. first, i just tried to be a friend to the families who had lost loved ones. and steve, i cannot convey to you the amazing diversity these families and the random tragedy of violence. 19-year-old kids who had been on campus for seven months and a 75-year-old engineering professor who survived the holocaust, romanian jew and then survived the communist take over of romania. he wasn't a communist. they oppressed him badly.
moved to israel. came to the united states on a one-year teaching visa and that day he blocked the door of his classroom so students could jump out the window and he was killed. just think about what it says about our country and the scorch of this that a guy that would survive the takeover of romania couldn't survive gun violence in this country. and i learned like i have learned as mayor but even in a deeper way, you know, just that we can do better and that we need to do better. so after the shooting, i did two things. i spent time with the families and still do. i'm still close to a number of the families and their children. but i also determined i was going put a panel together to analyze everything that hand and make recommendation about what went wrong. and i had people told me don't
do that. if you put out a public report, you're just handing a lawsuit to everybody to sue the state. i said i don't care about the damn lawsuit. we got to do everything we can to make sure that what happened to these precious people doesn't happen again or reduce the challenge that it will happen again. so i put together a really wonderful panel of people. none of them were connected to the victims and none of them were connected to virginia tech. they looked at everything that went wrong. they made a bunch of suggestions about campus safety, about training, about guns, about mental health and they made those recommendations back to us. we made a lot of the challenges but the one change i couldn't make was he got a weapon he couldn't get but for a gap in the background record checking system. i was able to fix that gap. but i went to my legislature and i said look, we need a universal background check system and we need to have a better background check.
they want to eliminate the chance completely of violence but they want to make us safer. my legislature would do it 9/11 the aftermath of that worse shooting tragedy in the history of the united states. and then between my selection and swearing into the senate the horrible shooting in connecticut of these school children and their teachers. and again, i made the case on the floor in april of 2013. i said we learned a lesson at blacksburg and now we learn a lesson again. we can make ourselves safer. i own a gun. but we can make rules that make people safer. and that day in the senate trying to enact back ground check legislation with the newtown family sitting in the gallery like that cloud of witnesses that spoken about in the letter to the hebrews and sitting with us were the virginia tech families, the fact
that we could don't the right thing, do the thing that the american public wants us to do extremely disappointing. but i'm not giving up. because sadly these tragedies continued to pile up. we had a reporter killed on live tv by someone who wanted to get publicity, somebody with a horrible mental illness. we've got to do a better job in this country. you know, there's a lot of things i want to do in the senate. i work on a lot of issues but i hope that we can embrace some common sense strategies that will send this scorch of gun violence in this country. i'm just going to do all i can to make sure we do. steve: let me ask you about as governor you had to deal with 11 executions. you're catholic. you talk about that. how do you deal with public
official obligations and your own personal faith. senator tim kaine: i don't think we need it. i refuse to believe that the american public is demons traably worse so i've never been a supporter. but when i ran for office, you know, i tell you, steve, i ran to be governor. what i did i put my hand on the bible and would say i uphold the law. the law in virginia is that the death penalty can be the ultimate punishment. if it's imposed by the jury, if it's up held by a judge and if it's up held by a court. i grapple with it but i'm going take an oath to uphold the law. and remember i lived in the society where there wasn't a rule of law where i saw what it was like where the rules did whatever they wanted regardless of the law. and i knew that was a bad system. so what i told virginians, i'm against the death penalty but i'll uphold the law. there were numerous people on death row when i was governor.
if all of their appeals went through without them being given relief and if they applied to me for cleanse si i would look at their petition but only in the instance me thinking that they had a credible -- if they were mentally ill or had some other huge mistake in their case, i would give clemency. but i was not there that the person was wronged in another way. very, very difficult. the hardest thing i had to do was that. the legislature, i think they kept testing me. they kept trying to expand the death penalty in virginia. probably about 20 times they put bills on my desk. i said i told you i was against the death penalty. i don't think we need it. the one that came to carrying out the wall that a jury in an appellate court had reviewed in terms of a sentence of the individual.
i grappled with the cases but only gave relief with the people i felt had made the case that they were entitled to clemency. but it was a painful, painful thing. it's still painful to talk about. steve: what do you think is next for you politically? senator tim kaine: if you talk to governors will tell you i like being governor better. i've lucked out a little because i came into the senate and i'm on the armed services committee, one of the few senators that has a child in the military. so that actually is a pretty important connection but virginia has a military connection that's second to none. and so this is so deeply important to our state and important to me. i'm on the foreign relations committee. one out of nine virginians were born in another country.
i've lived in another country. if you lived somewhere else or you were born somewhere else, you care about their country. and virginians do care. i don't know why they put me on the aging committee. i still haven't figured that out. but i really love my committees. i will be up for re-election in 2018. i'm kind of taking john warner as my role model. he was in the senate for 30 years. did a great job for virginia. he was courageous. if he saw something happen in his party that he didn't like, when the republican party nominated oliver north for the senate seat in 1994. he said included me out. i'm not supporting oliver north. that was very courageous for him to do that. but he basically said my country and my common wealth are more important they man party. and this would be wrong for my country and my common wealth. i use his longevity but also his willingness to do what is right along with my father-in-law. i kind of use them as examples. i hope to be here for a long time. steve: serving as president of the senate, give you a good platform. senator tim kaine: i really like my job.
i'm a happy senator. and i'm not looking for another one. as i as you know -- i'm doing a ton of work for hillary to try to get her elected. i think the world of her. i think she's going to be a superb president. i was one of the early supporters of president obama and still i'm a friend and still i'm a supporter and think he's done a very, very good job under very tough circumstances. in some ways though, in some ways, i think the existential choice placed ifer the nation in 2016 is even sharper than 2008. because if he had lost to senator mccain i would have been disappointed. but it wouldn't have represented a fundamental change. we've got issues like should we bring torcher back? should we take the freedom of religious worship and turn it on its head and punish people because if they're muslim. should we use a tar brush to paint everything from a recent immigrant to a federal judge
because they're latino? these are big challenging issues and the choice for the nation is an existential one. so i'm going to do all i can to help secretary clinton win. the nice thing is i don't have to travel far from home because virginia is a battle ground state. rather than worry what happens with the hanging chad in florida or closing out in ohio, in vnk we kind of had the feeling if we take care of business at home, we have an ability to play a real role in who the next president will be. steve: if she said, tim, i can win you. i want you to serve as my running mate, what would you tell her? >> well, i really like my job and i want to stay. i think i can help her win most by helping her win virginia. that's what i am doing already. she's got a lot of directions that she can go. look, she's going choose a person who is the best suited to help her govern and to help her win.
and i was vetted for this spot back in 2008. and i loved being mentioned but i was never saying i don't think it's going to be many. i don't feel differently. steve: you have three children. >> thank you for making that one the closer. my oldest boy nat is an infill tri commander about to take a second deployment overseas. he loves the marines. he's very, very happy. my middle son woody is kind of a cool artist in the twin cities who does videography and photography. and my daughter is at her last year in n.y.u. and she's in the theater department. how my wife ended up with a marine and two artists i don't know. but we love them and we're enjoying them. i love my colleagues.
i wish people outside of the building who see all the negatives. and there are negatives, but i wish they could see some of the aspects of my colleagues that i work with every day. sadly, steve in the media climate that we're in, cooperation is not news worthy. things that are negative are going to get the attention. and there are a lot of negatives that can get attention. but what gets attention is when i worked with bob corker to try to draft the bill forcing the president to submit an iran deal to congress for review. and he and i drafted that bill together and it got a 98-1 vote. when the bill was sub mid i supported the deal and he didn't. we support it in a partisan way. when lamar alexander and patty murray rewrite no child left behind seven years after it expired nobody could figure out how to do it, but they rewrote it.
we got a lot of educational portions of the bill. that was part and we got it done. a lot of things happened that don't get attention but there are things that we have to get better. i do feel called to do things that are hard and where there's some brokenness that needs be fixed -- i think there are a lot of opportunities for me to be part an improvement of this place. >> senator tim kaine, thank you for your time. >> you bet. really glad we could do this. >> tomorrow, for schedule candidate hillary clinton and tim kaine speak at a campaign rally in florida you international university in miami. our coverage begins at noon eastern on c-span. >> the democratic national committee unveiled the
convention's podium that will be the center of attention next week during the convention at the wells fargo center in philadelphia. it stands on a circular stage in front of a giant visual wall. was thethe unveiling ceo of the convention and the mayor. >> and the mayor of philadelphia, jim kenney. [applause] >> good morning. welcome to philadelphia. than is no better backdrop the birthplace of american democracy. what you see around you this morning is the result of many months of careful planning and dedicated work. our team has transformed this arena into what will be the epicenter of american politics next week.
what we intend to be the most inclusive, most engaging, innovative and forward-looking convention ever. on this podium next week, you will see a start contrast of what you saw in leave and this week. you will see talented leaders from a broad range of disciplines, occupations. you will see diversity, and inclusion that mirrors what this country looks like. you will see a nominee for president with the skill, experience and integrity to lead our nation forward. one who knows that we are stronger together. with that, i know we have a lot of work to do to get ready for first gavel on monday. take a look around, take it all in, get familiar because it is a view you will always remember as we make history in philadelphia again. with that, i'm happy to present
our friend and partner, the mayor of this great city, mayor tim kenny. [applause] >> wow. come to watchi our beloved flyers and philadelphia 76ers. to see this space transformed into what it has been is overwhelming. i will say this is the product you get when you use skilled union labor. [applause] we're looking forward to welcoming the country and the orld starting, i gues,s, now saturday, sunday. we will have a different convention over what we have seen in the last four days. laughter,ered between sadness and fear. we will have something we will all be proud of. nominateing to
and elect the first woman president of the united states of america. [applause] welcome, everyone. have a good time. we will make you safe. we will have a lot of fun. we have great restaurants, activities for everyone at the convention center and around town. have a good time and come back to philadelphia after this is over for your vacations and business. thank you for your hard work and what the dnc has done. we are proud of all the work and look forward to a great convention, so thank you. [applause]
>> republican presidential candidate donald trump and vice president show candidate mike pence held a campaign rally in cleveland. mr. trump told supporters that senator ted cruz may have ruined his political career by not endorsing him for president and he doesn't want any endorsements from cruz. this is 45 minutes. ♪