The Clinton-Kaine ticket officially went live on Saturday afternoon in Florida with the campaign’s formal introduction of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as Clinton’s choice for VP. The event was largely an exercise in political stagecraft, but coming on the heels of the Republican convention, the appearance of order was noticeable, if only because of its stark contrast to the aura of chaos that accompanies Donald Trump. Clinton teed up Kaine as an opener and then got out of the way. Something Trump struggled doing during his rollout of Mike Pence as his running mate.
For his part, Kaine did what he needed to do in his first appearance on the 2016 campaign trail. As expected, his remarks were heavy on bio, and while there was some Trump-bashing red meat, Kaine’s entire speech was most notable for its sunny tone. The Southern senator’s conversational style on the stump isn’t going to whip even the most excitable Democrat into a frothy fervor, but his earnest demeanor and unforced plainspokenness radiate a sort of Dad-positivism.
There are obviously many factors that go into selecting a VP—from electoral math to politics—but if vice presidents are largely cosmetic additions to the ticket, Kaine’s biggest impact on the race may end up being how effectively he is able to act as a mood booster. The Republican Party is noticeably in an anti mood at the moment, particularly at the top of the ticket, and Team Clinton is clearly betting that will fatigue voters by November.