Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, made an emotional return to the Capitol Wednesday, joining his caucus mates for lunch while honoring the seniority system and sitting at a back table reserved for freshmen.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton named the Virginian her running mate in July, shortly before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Wednesday’s meeting marked the Democratic senators first policy lunch after the August recess.
And Kaine could be back in the Senate this month as the chamber takes up the issue of funding the government.
“It’s all depending on voting schedule. So that’s part of the reason to come back today,” Kaine said as he exited his Senate office around 4:30 p.m. Kaine said he returned Wednesday to find out where things stand on negotiations regarding a defense authorization bill, government funding and the Zika virus.
Senators inside the policy lunch also said Kaine gave them an update on the presidential race.
Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Kaine expressed confidence that the Clinton ticket would prevail over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“There was a tear or two shed,” Reid said.
“There were some emotional moments when he reflected on serving in the Senate, how much it meant to him,” said Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. “But he’s looking forward to his new position, and we are too.”
Though Kaine expressed confidence about his and Clinton’s prospects for winning the White House, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said Kaine also encouraged Senate Democrats to continue their work on the campaign trail. Peters said Kaine advised them not to take anything for granted.
“He just talked about the friendships that he has in the caucus, [how] this is kind of a continuation of his work,” Peters said.
Peters, the lone Democratic senator in the current freshman class, said Kaine recalled when he first came to the Senate and sat at the table in the back of the room designated for newcomers. On Wednesday, Kaine joined Peters at that back table again.
Niels Lesniewski contributed.
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