The Virginia-based Richmond Times Dispatch recently sat down with Tim Kaine to discuss his life back home in Virginia and his current role as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The interview took place in a Richmond coffee shop on a cold January day, and the conversation moved quickly to Governor Kaine’s decision to lead the DNC:
"I do what I'm inspired to do," he says, during a drive to the DNC in Washington.
"If I had gone to a university or something else and just immediately gone cold turkey on politics, I can see now that would have been hard. Now I'm working in a very intensely political job, but when I'm in my hometown I'm just a dad, husband, neighbor, teacher, friend and that's what I do," he adds. "And I really like that."
Part of Kaine's civilian existence involves not bringing his former influence to bear on Virginia politics.
"It would have to be a major issue for me to speak out," he says. "My plate is more than full. I've certainly witnessed in City Hall and state government the specter of the former official who doesn't know how to let go. I don't want to be that guy.”
No matter his current role, Governor Kaine remains grounded and happy with his work:
"I feel like I'm a civil-rights lawyer in a kind of temporary, 17-year hiatus into politics," says Kaine, who views his life's work, along with that of his wife, as facilitating the path toward racial reconciliation in America.
"I don't do politics for politics' sake," he says. "I just want this president to succeed and I'm going to define my mission that way. I think his presidency already has been transformative and is going to continue to be."
Finally, Governor Kaine talked about his day-to-day work and his part in fighting to re-elect President Obama in the 2012 election:
…On this day in his spacious office just south of the U.S. Capitol, Kaine oversees strategy meetings with party staffers and the White House concerning outreach to the Latino and faith-based communities.
His monthly calendar is bumper-to-bumper with trips crisscrossing the country for meetings to raise money, speak to constituent groups, meet elected officials — and raise more money. Part of almost every weekend is spent working, with most Sundays and Mondays spent in Richmond. Last year alone, he logged more than 250,000 miles.
"2011 is all about relationships," Kaine says, encompassing the party's broader strategy post-midterm.
In 2008, Obama ran on change. In 2012, Kaine said, Obama will be able to run on the changes he has made — to health care, the Iraq war, the auto industry, the economy, the anti-gay military policy of "don't ask, don't tell."
"We said we were going to do something, and we actually did it," he says. "That's not necessarily what people are used to."