Tim Kaine opposes the death penalty, describing his stance as a “moral position.” He also represented death-row inmates as a defense lawyer, something his Republican opponent tried to use against him when Kaine ran for governor in Virginia.
“But I looked the voters of Virginia in the eye and said, ‘Look, this is my religion. I’m not going to change my religious practice to get one vote. But I know how to take an oath and uphold the law. And if you elect me I will uphold the law,’” Kaine recalled Tuesday night as he discussed how his faith informed his public service.
After he was elected, Kaine still allowed death sentences to be carried out because it was state law. Eleven inmates were executed during his tenure from 2006 to 2010.
Kaine differs on the issue from Hillary Clinton, who supports the death penalty. She has said execution is justified for “particularly heinous crimes” as long as prosecutors meet “the highest standards of evidentiary proof.”
For his part, Kaine said it was “very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward” as governor.
“But in circumstances where I didn’t feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law and I did,” he said. “I think it is really, really, really important that those of us who have deep faith lives don’t feel like we can just substitute our own views for everyone else in society.”