Kaine mum on Obama running mate slot

July 29, 2008 9:30:16 AM PDT
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine isn't adding to talk that he's on Barack Obama's shortlist of potential running mates. Appearing on Washington radio station WTOP's monthly "Ask The Governor" program Tuesday, he wouldn't discuss his prospects of being the Democratic nominee for vice president.

Kaine said it's flattering to be mentioned. Beyond that, he said, "I'm just not going to talk about my conversations with the campaign."

When asked if Kaine intended to meet with Obama on Tuesday while in Washington, he deflected the question without specifically ruling out talking to Obama's campaign. Kaine said he planned to spend time in Washington with his 13-year-old daughter, Annella, who traveled to the studio with him.

He became terse when pressed on whether he had been asked by Obama's vetting team to turn over old income tax returns and other financial documents.

"Those conversations are between me and the campaign, and that's what I'll say," he said.

Yet as the questions persisted, Kaine flashed the sort of extemporaneous response - that focused instead on his message - that made him a formidable campaigner in two statewide races.

The next president, he said, will inherit the toughest domestic and foreign policy scenario since Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, Kaine said.

"Very difficult economy - by many economists' accounts in recession - with housing, sales, everything down, high energy costs, in two wars, damaged and frayed relationships with nations around the world," Kaine replied without pause. "We need somebody who's a change agent, who's going to do things differently."

In February 2007, Kaine became the first governor outside Illinois, Obama's home state, to endorse his bid for the Democratic nomination. Obama and Kaine are personally close and politically compatible.

Kaine could help Obama in Virginia, a battleground state in the race for the first time in decades.

The last Democrat Virginia supported for president was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Democrats, however, have won the past two gubernatorial elections - including Kaine's unexpectedly easy victory in 2005. In 2006, the Democrats' first-time Senate candidate, Jim Webb, stunned Republican Sen. George Allen, a former governor. Last year, Democrats took control of the state Senate for the first time in 12 years.