Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine may have more in common with each other than they might like to think.
Both are Irish, both started out Catholic (Pence, to his mother’s chagrin has switched to evangelical) and both have retained a deep and lasting faith that sustains them in their political careers.
Both are more likeable, with easy Irish charm, than either of the two folks at the top of the tickets in the presidential contest and both stand a chance of occupying the White House some day.
Both are close to their Irish roots. Pence has talked about his Sligo grandfather Richard Cawley, who came to America in 1923 and became a bus driver in Chicago. Pence says no one influenced him more.
Indeed, Pence has name checked his grandfather in the past when asked why he is not as hard-line on immigration as many other top Republicans. He was one of the very few Republicans to meet and greet the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in Washington when they lobbied for new laws.
Tim Kaine’s family is 150 years out of Ireland, but he made a very moving speech at the American Ireland Fund dinner in Washington last St. Patrick’s Day when he described in emotive terms his first trip with his wife and four kids back to the ruined cottage in County Longford where his great-grandfather left from.
Equally, Pence has visited Sligo and Clare and Mayo and spent summers there in his youth, a product of an Irish Catholic boyhood that shaped him deeply.
The attachment to faith and belief is real in both men and there is no phony pretense. They share that with outgoing Vice President Joe Biden, who suffered enormous personal tragedy and survived at times on faith alone.
Interesting too that, despite the hate and vitriol thrown at Hillary and Trump, very few from the opposing camps had anything bad to say about Kaine or Pence.
They are both considerably younger than the man and woman they are the understudy for, and, thus, each seems assured of a shot at the White House at some point. Pence is 58, Trump 70. Kaine is 58, Hillary Clinton 69.
Personally affable with wells of Irish charm they are miles apart politically, but one can see their debate being gentlemanly rather than angry which the Hillary Trump debate seems certain to be.
For almost 250 years there hadn't been an Irish American Catholic VP, until Joe Biden broke the Waterford Glass ceiling.
Joe Biden now will never be president, but that opportunity is now there for both Pence and Kaine. But which of them will it be?
Much is expected of each of them, but it is impossible to say who will be beside the president’s side as he or she takes the oath of office on the Capitol steps in late January. Even for the vanquished candidate there is the consolation that they will be the immediate front runner for their party's nomination in 2020.
Who will fulfill what role though?
We will know in the next 100 days.