Opinion: Tim Kaine for vice president, y’all? Snooze.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., listens to leaders of the interfaith community on Thursday.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., listens to leaders of the interfaith community on Thursday.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)

Watching Donald Trump speak last night I was struck by two thoughts. First: This is a totally hateful, deranged speech with no allegiance to facts and few executable policy prescriptions. Second: This man is going to win the election.

Why? Because this contest has never been just about policy. If it was about policy, Trump wouldn’t have been top 10 in the Republican field. Here’s what he said to the New York Times this week about the Turkey coup:

TRUMP: I’m a fan of the Kurds, you understand.


NYT: But Erdogan is not. Tell us how you would deal with that?

TRUMP: Well, it would be ideal if we could get them all together. And that would be a possibility. But I’m a big fan of the Kurdish forces. At the same time, I think we have a potentially — we could have a potentially very successful relationship with Turkey. And it would be really wonderful if we could put them somehow both together.

That would be super wonderful.

In May 2015, Trump told radio host Simon Conway:

There is a way of beating ISIS so easily, so quickly, so effectively, and it would be so nice. … I know a way that would absolutely give us guaranteed victory. … The problem is then everybody will take the idea, run with it and then people will forget where it came from. … I ran it past two or three people. So simple. It’s like the paper clip.

Can’t wait to hear about that. Though I do wish Trump would stop sitting on this brilliant plan, vetted by two or three people and simple as a paper clip, while hundreds are getting killed by ISIS in France, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Iraq and elsewhere.

The reality, though, is that many Americans aren’t voting on facts. They’re voting on something much more ephemeral and intangible, a gut feeling of “Hell yes, this is my person.”

If Tim Kaine has ever inspired a “Hell yes, this is my person” feeling in a voter, I haven’t yet met him or her.

Trump’s convention speech made it more obvious than ever that what Hillary Clinton needs is charisma and energy. Placed against Trump, she comes off as a punctilious wonk. She has none of his verve, none of his daring. This is one of the reasons why her authenticity is so often called into question. You can see her mind at work when she debates, when she gives speeches. You can’t see Trump’s mind at work, presumably because it is resting.

This is why Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Clinton’s rumored front-runner for vice president, is a horribly uninspired choice: He’s stolid.

If Tim Kaine has ever inspired a “Hell yes, this is my person” feeling in a voter, I haven’t yet met him or her. And I lived in Virginia when he was governor.

You know who inspires a “Hell yes, this is my person” feeling in the Democratic field right now? Elizabeth Warren. Warren is supposedly out, though; yesterday she told Stephen Colbert, “I think if it were me, I’d know by now.”

So let’s talk about Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

I’m not saying Booker is the most qualified to be vice president based on his policies. (I don’t believe that.) I’m saying that he has the X factor — an ineffable, inimitable charm — that Clinton seems to lack in the rallies and stump speeches that are the heart of a presidential campaign. Clinton’s smart, but some things you can’t study for.

Booker’s got issues. Some say he’s a media creation with bad policies. (I’d retort that Trump is too, and he’s on his way to the presidency.) He’s got some of the same, er, credibility issues as Clinton. His pro-charter-schools position irritates the teachers’ unions.

But Kaine’s also got issues. He supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Clinton opposes. He signed an abortion parental consent law and has said that he personally opposes abortion, as a Catholic.

Then there’s the argument that Kaine can help bring Virginia, a swing state, while Booker’s home state of New Jersey is far more likely to go to the Democrats. But Kyle Kopko and Christopher Devine’s extensive studies on this topic show that “the vice presidential home state advantage is, essentially, zero.”

I’ve seen both Booker and Kaine speak to small audiences. Booker is charming and a stunningly good speaker. Tim Kaine is … Tim Kaine.

I was bored.

After a dusty primary season, the Clinton campaign is finally showing some promise that it knows how to talk to younger voters. The campaign released a ‘Trump yourself’ app yesterday that picked up users’ email addresses while helping them meme themselves. They had awesome social media during Trump’s speech Thursday night. They plan to release her VP pick via text message. Why lose that now? As a millennial friend of mine jokingly said this morning, “Honestly, nobody cares about Kaine. Like, who is she?”

A Kaine-Pence debate is a snoozefest that no undecided or newly engaged voters want to show up to. A Booker-Pence debate I’d watch as I watched the RNC. With popcorn.

Batchelor Warnke is an intern in The Times’ Opinion section. Follow her on Twitter @velvetmelvis.

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