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Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine

By Neelesh Moorthy July 23, 2016

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine will join Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket for president.

Clinton ended weeks of speculation Friday ahead of next week’s Democratic National Convention, tweeting and texting her selection at about 8:15 p.m. Friday.

"I'm thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who's devoted his life to fighting for others.," Clinton said on Twitter.

Kaine has been vocal in his support for Clinton on the campaign trail. At a rally in Annandale, Virginia, Kaine tried out for the role — drawing contrasts between Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump.

"Do you want a ‘you’re fired’ president or a ‘you’re hired’ president?," he asked the July 14 crowd. "Do you want a trash-talker president or a bridge-builder president? Do you want a me-first president or a kids-and-families-first president?"

Kaine has been a figure in Virginia politics for a while. He was lieutenant governor from 2002-06, governor from 2006-10. He has been serving as a U.S. senator since 2013.

PolitiFact has looked at 27 of Kaine’s claims on the Truth-O-Meter. 78 percent have been rated True, Mostly True, or Half True.

Here are the highlights.


The national stage

Kaine has been a loud defender of Clinton and President Barack Obama’s record while also going after Trump.

In July, Kaine dubbed Trump the enemy of workers because he "is against minimum wage." While Trump’s exact position on the issue has been elusive, he expressed support for a minimum wage at the state, not federal, level. For painting Trump’s position with too broad a brush, we rated Kaine’s claim Mostly False.

Another Mostly False claim: Kaine said in 2015 that roughly 40 percent of guns sales did not have an accompanying background check. The problem was, he used a 21-year old study and failed to note it might be out of date.

He also waded into the controversy over Obama’s executive actions on immigration, saying every president since Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 has also taken executive action on the issue. He’s right for the most part, but Obama’s actions are arguably more sweeping. This claim earned a Mostly True.

Also defending Obama, Kaine said in 2010 that the economy was shrinking for the first time in 70 years when Obama took office. Kaine failed to adjust for inflation, however. When we did, we found his statement to be Mostly False.

Kaine has also defended Bill Clinton’s economic record, saying in 2012 that Clinton presided over the biggest economic expansion since World War II. We rated this claim Mostly True, because it depends on the measurement you use, and not all back him up.

In 2011, Kaine also took aim at George W. Bush’s economic record, claiming a 10 percent population growth was accompanied by only 1 percent job growth. His numbers were a little off but close, so we rated this claim Mostly True.

Back in Virginia

Kaine’s talking points about his record as Virginia governor similarly hit different points of the Truth-O-Meter.

For example, a 2012 ad claimed Kaine cut five billion in spending as governor. We rated the claim Mostly True, because some cuts came after he left office.

Kaine also compared his tax record to that of his 2012 Senate opponent, former Virginia Gov. George Allen, saying families’ tax burden was less under Kaine than Allen. We rated this Mostly False, because reduced tax revenue stemmed more from the recession than Kaine’s actions.

On education, Kaine said he expanded participation in early childhood programs by 40 percent as governor. That’s True.

In 2011, Kaine argued Virginia’s per capita income had gone from one of the worst nationwide into the top 10, and that previously low higher education attainment was now above the national average. He got the present statistics right, but flubbed the past — so, Half True.

Kaine claimed credit for Virginia accolades that same year — best state to raise a child, best managed state and best state for business. While other factors come into play, he deserves some credit for those awards. We rated this claim True.

What he brings to the ticket

Commentators are split on whether Kaine would make Clinton’s best running mate. It’s worth noting that in April, Kaine suggested he would not want a position in the White House.

"I have a great feeling that I'm going to be on that podium with Hillary Clinton when she's taking the oath of office, but I'm going to be sitting with the other senators," he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Commentators are split on what Kaine would bring to the ticket. Some have said he would fail to bring diversity to the ticket and might not be the "attack dog" Clinton needs. Kaine also supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Clinton opposes and has been criticized heavily this election.

On the other hand, Kaine has been praised for his reliability — in a swing state like Virginia, no less — and for bringing a less hawkish foreign policy presence that could rein Clinton in.

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Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine