Politics

Tim Kaine Cites Importance of Senate Democrats as Check on Trump

Democratic vice presidential nominee back to work at the Capitol

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine could be in for a tough 2018 re-election contest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Tim Kaine was back at the Capitol Tuesday with a raised profile, and reflective after his ill-fated vice presidential bid.

The Virginia Democrat said he would be focusing his energy on the same issues he had before, particularly military issues important to his home state and his work on the Foreign Relations Committee. He was fully aware that Senate Democrats may be spending a lot of time blockading the agenda of President-elect Donald Trump.

“The role of the Democratic Senate minority is going to be very, very important. And so it’s nice to get back to work after a little bit of kvetching to my wife and her kvetching to me over the weekend,” Kaine said.

“Because of the role of a Senate minority, you know, we have the ability to cast a very clear spotlight on things. We have the ability in some instances to slow things down that should have been slowed down and even the ability to stop things,” Kaine told reporters. “So, my motto coming back is advance everywhere we can and defend everywhere we must.”

Kaine said he was not going to prejudge decisions made by Trump, but the designation of Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon as a top adviser in the White House next year did raise alarm bells for him.

“I will say this: the Bannon appointment deeply concerns me, putting somebody in with a history of connection to white nationalism, to anti-semitism, and to put that in a principal role,” he said. “I’m disturbed, but anybody’s who’s followed the campaign can’t be surprised at it. I mean, this is not an aberration. This is part of who Donald Trump is and who his supporters are.”

Last week’s defeat was the first of Kaine’s career as an elected official, and he now faces the prospect of a contest for his Senate seat in 2018.

“Thoreau said, ‘I love my fate to the very core and rind.’ It’s not all fruit, you know, there’s core and rind to it, so that’s part of life,” Kaine said of the loss.

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