With the Democrat National Convention collapsing into near chaos Monday, as Bernie Sanders supporters booed the party’s presidential nominee and shouted outgoing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz out of the convention hall after a leak of internal emails proved establishment favoritism, Hillary Clinton is banking heavily on her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine to help unify the party.
But while Kaine may be a middle-of-the-roader Democrat who was intended to appeal to the vast majority of voters, his blasé personality and lack of stage presence are major detriments that could end up having a counterproductive effect for Clinton.
Clinton, who has been larger-than-life throughout most of her campaign and has, for the most part, been unable to deflect media attention from her mishandling of official emails and the disastrous deaths of U.S. State Department personnel in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 (when she was Secretary of State), needs a charismatic running mate to draw scrutiny away from past issues and instead focus public attention on present-day concerns.
Kaine is not the man to do that.
The 58-year-old former governor of Virginia is personable, wholesome and risk-free, but he is no political dynamo.
Most probably, he will echo Clinton’s rhetoric and politics, without creating much of a stir within the party or the media.
Simply put, Kaine is unobjectionable, but not particularly memorable.
And while he may be chummy with some of the big donors on Wall Street (which could help raise campaign funds), he is not likely to appease the Sanderites and other young progressives who are looking for a more liberal stance and less establishment propriety.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that left-leaning Democrats are about to turn into GOP fans.
But they may become more apathetic about the elections (meaning that they are less likely to vote).
And as the latest polls indicate that Clinton and Donald Trump are still running neck and neck, Clinton needs to court every vote to ensure her winning in November.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected].