For months, there has been a lot of talk about the lives, successes, and failures of the 2016 presidential nominees, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – but do you really know their running mates? Since the V.P. can become acting president in a variety of situations, it’s a good idea to be informed about their political histories and viewpoints, as well. Here’s quick overview of both:
Governor Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Running Mate to Donald Trump
Currently holding office as the governor of Indiana, Mike Pence has a longstanding political history. He held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 years (from 2001 to 2013), and was the chair of the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2011. For these reasons, many view Pence as a “safe” choice for Trump’s V.P.; Trump chose a running mate with the political background that he himself does not have, one that is established in the Republican party, and has the support of many influential donors, like the Koch brothers.
Though he has seen enormous success as Governor, at times, Pence has made controversial decisions, like when he signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015, a heavily-criticized piece of legislation that allows individuals and companies in Indiana to deny service to those who refuse to act in accordance with their own religious beliefs (in context, it allows businesses to deny service to LGBTQ+ individuals on the grounds of religion).
Pence, a former radio talk-show host and lawyer, beat out two other potential candidates for Trump’s V.P., New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and GOP icon Newt Gingrich, both of whom were seen as too unruly and strong-minded to complement the personality of Donald Trump.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Running Mate to Hillary Clinton
Though he currently holds office as the junior senator from Virginia, Tim Kaine is a well-experienced politician who has spent time as a mayor and a governor. Sworn into office as the Governor of Virginia in 2006, Kaine held that position during the deadly Virginia Tech shootings. In 2012, he beat another former Virginia governor for a spot in the U.S. senate, and has held that seat ever since.
Much like his running mate, Kaine’s views on many issues have changed over time. Though he was raised Catholic and is personally against it, he has been back and forth on the issue of abortion in legislation. Most recently, Kaine has spent his time trying to convince Congress to make final a decision about the U.S.’s stance on the Islamic State (ISIS), even calling his fellow legislators “cowards” in response to their inaction (an opinion that many Americans reportedly agree with). Although he is a Democrat, Kaine is known for being less progressive than others in his party, which may be why he has had success in Virginia through the state’s shifting political views.
Putting the well-liked and outspokenly-bilingual Tim Kaine on the Democratic ticket was a smart and strategic choice for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, since the Old Dominion state has become a crucial swing state in presidential elections, and Virginians overall seem to have a positive view of this experienced politician. Some Democrats are concerned, however, that the open seat in the Senate will go to a Republican, should Clinton and Kaine win this fall.
Keep the political views of these vice presidential candidates in mind when you head to the polls this fall!