RICHMOND — Sen. Timothy M. Kaine defended Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server Tuesday and said he was confident that Congress would ultimately devote funding to combat the Zika virus.
Kaine (D-Va.), who is reportedly being vetted by the former secretary of state as a potential running mate, received a briefing from the Virginia Department of Health about the same time FBI Director James B. Comey was delivering a Clinton update.
Despite calling Clinton and her staff’s handing of sensitive material “extremely careless,” Comey said his agency would not recommend criminal charges against the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
“I’m not surprised,” Kaine told reporters. He added, “She said, ‘Looking at it in retrospect, I might do it differently now,’ and I think other secretaries of state who have made similar arrangements would also say that, but I never believed this was going to be something in the criminal realm or even close to it.”
Unlike other possible contenders for the No. 2 spot, Kaine has not campaigned with Clinton since before the primary, and he said he has no plans to do so in the next couple of weeks.
Asked about the chances of Kaine joining the ticket, he twice repeated a version of the response he has been giving recently when asked whether he is being considered.
“The only role that I’m playing with the campaign right now — separate and apart from all the budgetary, armed services, foreign relations and public health work I’m doing in the Senate — is trying to be helpful to Secretary Clinton in Virginia,” he said.
Turning to Zika, Kaine derided a House bill that would have limited how funding to fight the virus could have been used by Planned Parenthood.
“I think we’re going to get there,” he said. “I think the Planned Parenthood thing was a little bit of saber-rattling and skirmishing, and I don’t think we ought to be doing that when we face a public health emergency of this kind.”
He urged residents to learn more about the threat the virus poses.