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Where Tim Kaine And Hillary Clinton Stand On Key Issues

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine laugh at a campaign rally in Annandale, Virginia, on July 14.
Saul Loeb
AFP/Getty Images
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine laugh at a campaign rally in Annandale, Virginia, on July 14.

Hillary Clinton has chosen Tim Kaine to be her vice presidential running mate. The Virginia senator has been an elected official — including mayor, governor and senator — for over 20 years and was once the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was also on President Obama's shortlist of running mates in 2008.

Kaine could be considered a traditional pick for Clinton, given that he is a political veteran from what is considered a battleground state, although it leans toward Democrats.

When it comes to the issues, Kaine and Clinton agree on a lot, although some on the left have criticized Clinton's pick as not progressive enough and too similar to her on too many fronts.

Here's where Kaine and Clinton stand on some key issues:

They Disagreed On Trade

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other nations, has gotten a lot of attention on the campaign trail since the countries involved reached a consensus in October and signed the agreement in February. People who support the deal say it will stimulate the economies of the participating countries. Critics say it will move U.S. jobs overseas.

In an October PBS NewsHour interview, Clinton said she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security and I still believe that's the high bar we have to meet," Clinton said in October. "I don't believe [the Trans-Pacific Partnership] is going to meet the high bar I have set."

Kaine supported the agreement and voted in favor of giving President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the agreement. He has recently changed his stance and now echoes Clinton's sentiment, saying he can't support TPP in its current form.

They Agree On Women's Reproductive Rights

Clinton and Kaine agree on both abortion rights and on supporting Planned Parenthood but Clinton has been a more outspoken, calling restrictions to Planned Parenthood "a concerted, persistent assault on women's health across our country" in a June Planned Parenthood Action Fund speech.

In a March Fox News town hall debate, Clinton defended her pro-choice stance on abortions:

"Under Roe v. Wade, which is rooted in the Constitution, women have this right to make this highly personal decision with their family, in accordance with their faith, with their doctor," Clinton said. "It's not much of a right if it is totally limited and constrained."

Kaine has called himself a "traditional Catholic," and has says he opposes abortion personally. However, the senator said in a June Meet The Press interview that he doesn't let his personal beliefs affect his position on the issue. He said he believes the decision of whether or not to have an abortion shouldn't be dictated by the government:

"I deeply believe, and not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They're moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions."

Both politicians have spoken out in support of Planned Parenthood. In a statement after he voted against defunding the women's health organization in August 2015, Kaine said that for many women, "Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of high quality health care."

In Clinton's June speech for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, she called for an increase in federal funding to the organization and thanked them for "being there for women no matter their race, sexual orientation or immigration status."

They Agree On Gun Control

In this election cycle, Hillary Clinton has vehemently called for heightened gun control. She has promised to expand background checks, close any loopholes to purchasing guns such as those stemming from gun shows or internet sales, and restrict access to assault-style weapons. She has said she would stand up to the National Rifle Association as president.

Clinton hasn't always been so outspoken on the issue. When she ran against then-Senator Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, she tried to appeal to supporters of gun rights by "fondly recalling that she had learned to shoot as a child," according to the Chicago Tribune.

But she has been a longtime gun control advocate, supporting the 1993 Brady Bill which mandated federal background checks and waiting periods on gun sales. She also supported gun control measures during her 2000 Senate run.

Kaine has also been strong on gun control. That may be due to his familiarity with the issue: Kaine — and his views on gun control — were thrust into the spotlight while we was Virginia's governor in 2007. That year, a shooter killed 32 people at Virginia Tech before killing himself, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

Kaine was in Japan at the time and flew back early to travel to the university. Last Month, when Democrats held the Senate floor for 15 hours to spur action on gun control legislation, he spoke of his experience in the aftermath of the shooting:

"That was the worst day of my life, and it will always be the worst day of my life — comforting the families of the victims, talking to the first responders who went into a classroom where bodies littered the floor and who heard in the pockets of deceased students and professors cell phones ringing as parents who had seen it on the news were calling their kids, just knowing they were at Virginia Tech to ask them if they were all right — calls that would never be answered."

During that speech, Kaine defended the Second Amendment. He has said he is a gun owner himself, but according to a statement on his website, he supports "common sense legislation" to expand background checks, restrict assault-style weapons and expand mental health services.

They Disagree On The Authorization of Military Force

Clinton is famously thought of as "hawkish." She pushed for military intervention in Libya and backed President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

During a November debate on CBS, when asked whether she would declare war on ISIS, Clinton said the U.S. already has "an authorization to use military force against terrorists. We passed it after 9/11." When asked if that covers ISIS, she added, "It certainly does cover it."

That's not quite right: as NPR has reported, the original law authorizing military force was signed in 2001 and gave the president the power to use force against groups which aided the September 11 attacks, not simply terrorists.

And that's where Clinton and Kaine seem to disagree. Kaine says the president is not already authorized to use force, saying ISIS does not fall under the original authorization. He has pushed the Obama administration to get re-authorization from Congress in its fight against the terrorist group.

A new authorization has not been reissued to include ISIS and Kaine has argued that until that happens, Obama's ISIS campaign is unconstitutional. In September 2014, Kaine, who has a son in the Marines, called on Obama to seek authorization on the Senate floor:

"During a time of war, we ask our troops to give their best even to the point of sacrificing their own lives. When compared against that, how much of a sacrifice is it for a President to engage in a possibly contentious debate with Congress about whether military action is a good idea? How much of a sacrifice is it for a member of Congress to debate and vote about whether military action is a good idea? While Congressional members face the political costs of debate on military action, our service members bear the human costs of those decisions. And if we choose to avoid debate, avoid accountability, avoid a hard decision how can we demand that our military willingly sacrifice their very lives?"

They Agree On Education Reform

Education is another area in which Clinton and Kaine used to disagree and are now aligned.

When Clinton was a New York senator, she helped draft the No Child Left Behind act, which aimed at upping student achievement. She voted in favor of the act in 2001. By 2008, though, Clinton was critical of NCLB and has said she supports its replacement, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, which she said has a "better balance on testing."

Kaine was critical of NCLB earlier on. In response to President Bush's 2006 State Of The Union address, Kaine, a governor at the time, said the education act was "wreaking havoc on local school districts." He has criticized the bill for having unintended consequences, like its focus on high-stakes testing. The new act includes provisions written by Kaine that focused on promoting career and technical education.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meg Anderson is an editor on NPR's Investigations team, where she shapes the team's groundbreaking work for radio, digital and social platforms. She served as a producer on the Peabody Award-winning series Lost Mothers, which investigated the high rate of maternal mortality in the United States. She also does her own original reporting for the team, including the series Heat and Health in American Cities, which won multiple awards, and the story of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Black community and the systemic factors at play. She also completed a fellowship as a local reporter for WAMU, the public radio station for Washington, D.C. Before joining the Investigations team, she worked on NPR's politics desk, education desk and on Morning Edition. Her roots are in the Midwest, where she graduated with a Master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.