Senator Tim Kaine went home last night from his Irish New York fundraiser at FitzPatrick Hotel with the Clinton/Kaine campaign $200,000 richer. Also present on the night were actor Liam Neeson and Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as former City Council President Christine Quinn.
It was a fitting final fundraising event for the VP candidate, but more importantly he connected extremely well with his Irish American audience. Fundraiser host John FitzPatrick put it best when he simply told Kaine he was among friends, the Irish of America, his own people, which seemed to move the Virginian Irishman deeply.
Kaine, taking to the stage without notes, quickly endeared himself to the Irish Americans, many of whom had been disappointed the real Tim Kaine had not shown up for the VP debate where he appeared over prepared.
His remarks were very similar to what he had told the American Ireland Fund last March at their annual dinner, explaining his late but deep connection to his Irish roots.
Kaine said he always relished his Irish roots and admired the Irish "who for so many years were the underdog, but never afraid to fight."
"In this election", he said "we are running as the underdog until we win."
He continued, "In some states the polls are very close, and the polls can be wrong, so we have to make every vote count.
“There are two things about my political record, one good, one not so good. The good thing is that if we win on November 8, I will be 8 and 0 (in winning elections). The not so good thing is that I win by small margins."
Kaine touched on his deep Irish roots.
“Until I was 48 years old, Ireland played a huge and important role in my life but sort-of in the dreams of my life…I had never been to Ireland. So it was photos, it was genealogy and it was family stories and it was Roman Catholicism and it was music and it was St. Patrick’s Day. That’s what being Irish meant to me but I felt the deep connection to it.
“When I was Governor of Virginia in my first year, 2006, my wife Anne and I took our three children to Ireland to go find the ruins of the home where my great-grandfather, PJ Farrell, was born. My parents had been there before and found it. We went to Dublin and my children were having a blast. They were all teenagers and when I said, ‘We have to spend a day traipsing around in the countryside instead of hanging around in Temple Bar and Grafton Street,’ they were extremely disappointed in their Father.
“As we drove to Longford, which isn’t exactly the tourist zone, they continued to complain. But when we landed in Longford town my 11-year-old daughter said to me, ‘Dad, why does everyone look like us?’ And they started to get it.
“And then we drove the 10 km to Killashee Parish and then we parked the vehicle and traipsed a half a mile across fields and found two still standing walls of what had been a house with windows and doors but now with a tin roof stacked with hay and I told my children, ‘This is where we come from.’ And it, even with unruly and obnoxious teenagers, made a huge impact on them and since that time we have been back very, very often.”
Kaine quotes W.B. Yeats a lot, something he has in common with outgoing VP Joe Biden, most recently when talking about the Syrian refugee crisis where he pleaded that ISIS was the enemy not the refugees.
He is deeply religious. Unusually for a Democratic politician he wears his faith on his sleeve.
He loved the tale of the Good Samaritan and talks often of the need for politicians and society at large to model themselves on that story, helping those left behind not ignoring or dividing them. The contrast with the Trump message could not be more evident.
He quotes Yeats saying, “The best lack all conviction and the worst; are filled with passionate intensity.”
One feels that will never be true of Kaine in terms of beliefs and intensity. Former civil rights lawyer, successful politician and now likely a heartbeat from the presidency Tim Kaine seems to cut the mustard for the job. Hillary chose wisely and well.
While in New York Kaine was also a guest on "The Rachael Maddow Show" on MSNBC.
The candidate told Maddow that he’s looking forward to serving a female boss as Hillary Clinton will be his first. He said, "Other than supervising attorneys on occasion, this will be the first time I've had a female boss,” and added, “Wow, I hadn't thought of it that way.”
A civil rights lawyer and self-described feminist he sayshe "relishes" the idea of reinventing gender norms in the White House alongside Hillary.
"I get to now play a supportive role — that's what the vice president's main job is — to a woman who's going to make history, to a president who will preside over the centennial of women getting the right to vote," Kaine said.
He said Clinton’s election would normalize the idea of women in the White House and his role as Vice President would normalize the idea that “strong men should definitely support strong women.”