Flashback: Kaine squirms when asked if he’d endorse Hillary Clinton

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is proud to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate this year, but there was a time when his political ambitions in Virginia made supporting her an uncomfortable proposition.

In 2005, Kaine ran for governor after serving as lieutenant governor under Mark Warner. Just one year after George W. Bush carried Virginia for the second time, Kaine was asked during a gubernatorial debate if he would back Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid.

“Wow,” Kaine laughed in response to the question, which came from the late Tim Russert. “Why did you guys invite him to moderate this thing?”

The video, unearthed by video researcher Rich Weinstein, demonstrates the difficulties Kaine has experienced in balancing his personal brand of moderate ideology — Russert noted that he described himself as “conservative” on some issues in 2005 — with the demands of liberal national politics. That history caused Bernie Sanders’ left-wing supporters to be frustrated when Clinton tapped Kaine to be her running mate, and created an opening for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to attack Kaine on the issue of abortion during the vice presidential debate.

In 2005, Kaine initially dodged the question by saying he already had “a candidate for governor” and praising then-Gov. Mark Warner. But when asked again, he ultimately offered his backing to Clinton.

“I’m a team player, I’m a team player,” he said. “If my team decides that Hillary Clinton is the right person, you’ll see me working for my team because I want America to be strong and I believe that we are on the right path right now as Democrats in building a strong America.”

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