Buzz grows in Dem circles over Kaine as Clinton VP

Updated 3:05 PM EDT, Wed May 4, 2016
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Story highlights

Many Democrats are arguing that Kaine could help balance out a ticket with Hillary Clinton

"I'm not on any list that I know of," Kaine told CNN last week

(CNN) —  

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is emerging as an early favorite to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate among major Democratic donors, operatives and congressional Democrats, who argue the Spanish-speaking former governor could be a steady hand in a difficult election environment.

As the party establishment begins to shift its attention to a likely general election matchup against Donald Trump, many Democrats are now arguing that Kaine could help balance out the ticket by helping Clinton with independents in swing states and even expand the political map in the fall with his moderate profile, executive experience and foreign policy background.

Road to 270: The electoral college map

And as a politician from a southern state who has endured tough elections, proponents believe he can handle the grind of a high-profile presidential campaign.

“I would be 100% enthusiastic about Tim Kaine being our vice presidential candidate,” said Peter Buttenwieser, a major Democratic donor and Clinton backer. “Nobody could be better.”

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How seriously Clinton is considering Kaine is far from certain. But Kaine has been atop Democratic running mate lists before, including in 2008 when Barack Obama’s team was vetting the Virginia Democrat for the post before ultimately choosing Joe Biden. Senate Democratic leaders have not taken a position on Kaine as a running mate but would be supportive of his selection, sources said.

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In a brief interview last week in the Capitol, Kaine was coy when asked about his interest in the job.

“I’m not on any list that I know of,” he told CNN.

Yet two Clinton confidants, who asked not to be named, said Kaine’s name has been mentioned frequently as a possible running mate, but said it was too early to know how serious it was.

Kaine, of course, has his drawbacks, too. He voted for fast-track trade authority last year – something bound to anger the populist, progressive wing of the party led by Sen. Bernie Sanders. He has a more nuanced position on abortion than many liberals. And as a white male, he hardly would be a historic pick the way other prospective vice presidential candidates are.