For Kaine, Selection of Obama VP Bittersweet

By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 24, 2008

RICHMOND, Aug. 23 -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Saturday that being seriously considered as a running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was "surreal" and that finding out he had not been selected brought a "mixture of emotions."

"It's been a . . . kind of beyond-your-wildest-dreams experience to be mentioned," Kaine said. "It was very, very flattering to be considered. To be mentioned by folks for that position was very gratifying."

Kaine, a friend of Obama's and co-chairman of his national campaign, stopped short of pledging that he would not leave the governor's mansion for a Cabinet position should the U.S. senator from Illinois win. But, he said, he expects to finish his term.

"When I signed on with Senator Obama, it wasn't to get anything," Kaine said. "My complete expectation is I'm going to be governor until January 2010."

Kaine, who is in Denver for the Democratic National Convention this week, told reporters that Obama had made an excellent choice for the country, and battleground state of Virginia, in selecting Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, "a person of great heart" who has expertise in foreign policy and the judiciary.

"Senator Obama has made a great pick in Joe Biden," he said. "Senator Obama and Senator Biden will work very, very well in Virginia."

Last month, word surfaced that Kaine, 50, had been having serious conversations with Obama about joining the Democratic ticket and that he had provided background documents to the campaign for review. A month of feverish speculation followed, culminating in reporters camping out outside the governor's mansion Friday while Kaine snuck out through an underground tunnel.

Kaine repeatedly declined to discuss when he was notified that he had not been selected and what he was told.

"I can tell you, I suspect there's a great sigh of relief," said C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party. "There are a bunch of folks who have said, 'I would really hate to lose Tim as governor.' "

Del. Brian J. Moran (Alexandria), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a likely candidate for governor next year, said he was proud of Kaine, as well as Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) and former governor Mark R. Warner (D), who were also thought to be under consideration, for showing the country that Democrats are succeeding in Virginia.

With under three months before the November election, Democrats have set their sights on Virginia, considered one of the country's newest battleground states. No Democratic presidential candidate has won Virginia since 1964, but Democrats won the past two gubernatorial elections and a high-profile Senate race in 2006.

Robert D. Holsworth, a political science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the focus on Kaine in recent weeks "reinforced how crucial Virginia has become to presidential politics."

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