WASHINGTON, Jul 23- Hillary Clinton on Friday tapped Tim Kaine, a popular Spanish-speaking senator from the swing state of Virginia, to be her running mate in the White House showdown against Donald Trump.
The pick comes three days before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where Clinton — and now Kaine — will be elevated as the nominees to the party’s presidential ticket.
“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @timkaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others. -H,” the former secretary of state tweeted.
Widely seen as a safe choice in a brutal election race — Kaine himself jokes that he is “boring” — the senator emerged as frontrunner in the veepstakes because he ticks so many boxes.
An experienced foreign policy hand who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, he could help Clinton lock in two key voting blocs: Hispanics and the battleground state of Virginia.
Politically a center-left Democrat, with working class roots and a spotless record both as governor and senator, he is also seen as helping Clinton win over votes from reluctant independent male voters — although at risk of alienating the party’s progressive left wing.
The pair will hit the campaign trail together in Florida on Saturday.
The 58 year old Kaine swiftly tweeted: “Just got off the phone with Hillary. I’m honored to be her running mate. Can’t wait to hit the trail tomorrow in Miami!”
Clinton, 68, had said she wanted a running mate with enough experience to “literally get up one day and be the president of the United States.”
Also on the short list were Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has been friends with the Clintons for decades and is from another key battleground state, Pennsylvania; and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, a Latino seen as a true liberal.
Clinton put out a series of tweets heaping praise on the senator.
She described him as “a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it” saying his guiding principle was “the belief that you can make a difference through public service.”
One of Clinton’s tweets included a five point graphic highlighting the senator’s youthful spell on a Jesuit mission in Honduras as well as his track record in fighting homelessness, discrimination and gun violence, in expanding early childhood education and in fostering a pro-business environment in Virginia.