FAIRFAX — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said he doesn’t have any flights booked to Florida this weekend, where Hillary Clinton is expected to unveil her choice for a running mate.
“But,” Kaine said, deploying his mischievous sense of humor, “I’m checking the Greyhound schedules.”
It was a light moment Wednesday during a Northern Virginia roundtable on business issues in what quickly has become a wall-to-wall Kaine Watch on the junior senator’s chances in the 2016 Democratic veepstakes.
Kaine joked that the vice presidential speculation was a ruse concocted by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce “to drive up attendance today.”
Indeed, it was a full house — of business people and national media — at the Inova Center for Personalized Health, where Kaine and fellow U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., gathered to discuss Virginia and national business issues.
But Kaine, who was a runner-up in 2008 to Joe Biden as Democrat Barack Obama’s running mate, is used to it. So when he took the stage Wednesday, he knew politics would intersect with business.
Moderator Julie Carey, a reporter for NBC4 in Washington, got right to the point after both men were introduced at the Inova Center for Personalized Health.
She put Kaine on the spot by asking when he might know if he’d been selected by Clinton to be her running mate.
“I guess all I can tell you is I went through the process in 2008, so I kind of know the rhythm of it and I’m glad that I do,” he said.
“The decision is very late, so I don’t expect a decision will be made and announced until the weekend between the two conventions, and that’s really all I know right now.
“It’s wonderful to be mentioned, but you know I love my job and I’m trying not to overly think it, but it’s been a very exciting last few weeks,” he added.
Carey said that Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax — one of a number of Northern Virginia Democratic lawmakers in attendance — suggested that she ask the vice presidential question a different way:
“Any flights booked to Florida over the weekend?” Carey asked — a reference to Clinton’s campaign events in Orlando and Tampa on Friday and Saturday, before the Democratic National Convention convenes Monday in Philadelphia.
“Thanks, Mark!” Kaine said, smiling and slightly squirming in his chair on stage.
“No flights booked,” Kaine said. “But I’m checking the Greyhound schedules,” he said to bursts of laughter.
But Kaine wasn’t off the hook yet.
His fellow senator, Warner, who also has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential choice for Clinton, was asked the odds that a Virginia senator would be on the ticket that is celebrated in the City of Brotherly Love next week.
“I think the junior senator’s got a bright, bright future,” Warner said to laughter and applause.
“I could not think of a better person for Secretary Clinton to choose,” Warner said, making the case for his friend, who was Warner’s No. 2 as lieutenant governor when Warner served as governor from 2002 to 2006.
Kaine and Warner have known each other for 37 years. They met in law school at Harvard.
“I think Virginia benefits from the fact that we know each other, like each other, and there is nobody more honest, steadfast, trustworthy,” Warner said, putting his hand over Kaine’s arm as they sat next to each other.
“There’s nobody I would have more confidence in, and our country would be really well-served” if Clinton chose Kaine, Warner said, to applause.
“And you get him on a harmonica and he’s not boring at all,” Warner added — a reference to Kaine’s self-description as boring, as well as his self-taught hobby of playing blues harmonica.
Clinton praised Kaine in an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS, broadcast Tuesday. Rose asked Clinton about Kaine’s recent admission on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he is boring.
“I love that about him,” Clinton said with a laugh. “He’s never lost an election. He was a world-class mayor, governor and senator.”
Whether Kaine will be playing the blues in the veepstakes remains a mystery, as Clinton is said to be considering at least a handful of other possible nominees, including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa; and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
For the immediate future, however, Kaine will be doing his current job in Virginia. He has events scheduled today in Arlington County on immigration reform and in Sterling on religious freedom.
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Tim Kaine photographed with Nat, his first son, in 1990.
Tim Kaine became mayor in 1998 after winning a third two-year term on Richmond’s City Council.
Richmond Mayor Timothy Kaine listens during a council meeting at City Hall on 11/23/98. He is flanked by Richmond Vice-Mayor Rudy McCollum Jr (left) and Richmond Interim City Manager Connie Bawcum.
Richmond City Council members Tim Kaine and Viola Baskerville check out a water-damaged ceiling at Armstrong High School. The roof at the then-43-year-old building had been patched but never replaced.
Richmond Mayor Timothy Kaine acknowledges members in the audience during his State of the City address at the City Council meeting 1/11/99.
Mayor Timothy Kaine, who resigned from Richmond City Council, Sept. 10, 2001, displays to council a print given to him by his staff as a gift during council meeting.
Newly-elected mayor of Richmond Timothy M. Kaine, addresses the crowd at City Council chambers July 1, 1998 after being sworn in.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine listens to people lined up to speak in opposition to the hiring of Calvin D. Jamison as City Manager during a council meeting at City Hall on 11/23/98.
After City Council colleagues elected him mayor of Richmond, Tim Kaine addressed spectators, family and friends on July 1, 1998, at City Hall.
Lt. Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine (left) and Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner celebrate their victories at the Richmond Marriott Nov. 6, 2001.
Timothy M. Kaine (left) the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, greets his Republican counterpart, Jay Katzen on Oct. 5, 2001, just before their debate at the University of Richmond. Kaine was a former mayor of Richmond and Katzen was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Soichi Aikawa (far right) mayor of Urawa, Japan, Richmond's sister city, Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine and Richmond City Council member Gwen Hedgepeth took turns helping to plant a sweet osmanthus tree at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens at 1800 Lakeside Ave.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, governor Timothy M. Kaine and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, undertake a walkabout on Capitol Square, from the executive mansion to the South portico of the capitol in Richmond on Thursday, May 3, 2007. The walkabout was lined by extraordinary Virginians who have made great contributions to the Commonwealth. The 54 people who won the Royal Walkabout Lottery also lined the queen's path.
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine reads a book at Cople Elementary School in Westmoreland County on June 7, 2002.
Timothy M. Kaine gives supporters a hug as he walks on stage at the Richmond Marriott to celebrate his victory for lieutenant governor Nov. 6, 2001. His father-in-law, former Gov. Linwood Holton, is on the right.
State Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester (right) smiles as Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine talks about the Senate resolution honoring Potts during the floor session of the Virginia Senate at the State Capitol in Richmond, March 1, 2004. Potts, a former athletic administrator, had been named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
State Sen. Thomas K. Norment, Jr., R-James City (center, back to camera) waits for an answer to a technical question posed to (from left) Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, and Deputy Senate Clerk John Garrett, during a break in the floor session of the Virginia Senate on Feb. 20, 2004, at the state Capitol in Richmond.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine addresses the media following a closed-door session in which the status of Leonidas Young (far right) as a member of city council was discussed in light of his recent legal troubles.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine wipes away a tear while laughing during a roast in his 'honor' at the Jefferson Hotel on Nov. 15, 1999 to raise funds for the Emergency Shelter Inc.
Jelena Matkovic, 19, of Serbia locates her hometown on a map for Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Aug. 2, 2002 at the Maggie L. Walker Governor's School. Kaine spoke to a group of international students participating in Project B.R.I.D.G.E., an intensive 12-day leadership workshop hosted by the Council for America's First Freedom. From left are Davorka Zadro, 18, of Croatia; Matkovic, Stephanie Byers, 17 of Chesterfield County; and Karl Mercer, 15, of Hanover County.
Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine relaxes in his Richmond office Nov. 7, 2001, the morning after winning the race for the state's second-highest office.
Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark (left) speaks with Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine during the Democratic Party of Virginia's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond Feb. 7, 2004.
Mayor Timothy M. Kaine cuts the ribbon during the YMCA's dedication of the new Capital One Outreach Center and The Mary Morton Parsons Wellness Center on March 2, 2000.
Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine at Richmond City Council meeting on 7/26/99.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine gave his wife, first lady Anne Holton, a kiss after he finished his State of the Commonwealth speech before the joint legislative session in Richmond, Jan. 16, 2006.
Mattaponi Indian Chief Carl Lone Eagle Custalow (left) presents the annual tax tribute from members of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and first lady Anne Holton at the Executive Mansion in Richmond Nov. 22, 2006. The traditional ceremony was held inside the mansion due to the rain. A treaty signed in 1646 calls for the tribes to make an annual offering to the governor, traditionally the day before Thanksgiving, in lieu of paying taxes.
Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine talks with a visitor just before the Richmond City Council meeting on July 9, 2001.
Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine greets the crowd after his victory on Nov. 8, 2005.
On board the back of a fire department vehicle, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine tours the flooded downtown area of Franklin, Va. with a truck load of members of the media on Oct. 10, 2006.
Stanley Lowe, vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservaton (left) talked with Richmond Mayor Timothy M. Kaine (right) before addressing a gathering at the Black History Museum in the Jackson Ward section of Richmond, June 25, 2001, where he announced that the Historic Jackson Ward Landmark District had been named one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the country.
Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine received a salute from Virginia state troopers as he arrived at the old Capitol in Williamsburg to be sworn in as governor.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine waves along the route of the Ukrop's Christmas parade.
Barbara Miller, of Richmond, takes first lady Anne Holton's driver's license at the Main Street Station polling station around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning as her husband, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, waits his turn.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine cycles spent cartridges out of his gun after a round of skeet shooting before a news conference Aug. 26, 2005, in Hardy, Va. Kaine stressed his outdoors lifestyle and support for the 2nd Amendment.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the Democratic nominee for governor, watches returns on the internet on Nov. 8, 2005 in Richmond.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine delivers his first State of the Commonwealth speech Jan. 16, 2006. At rear left is House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and rear right is Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
Gov. Mark R. Warner (right, front) and Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (second from left) raft through the Hollywood Rapids of the James River to promote Virginia tourism. Warner's daughter, Gillian, is seated next to him.
Governor Timothy M. Kaine and his wife Anne Holton leave a ceremony held in remembrance of the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The governor was joined by other elected officials, the Virginia National Guard Color Guard, first responders and other public safety officials.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and first lady Anne Holton watch President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address inside the Executive Mansion in Richmond, on Jan. 31, 2006.
Virginia Lt. Gov. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine speaks at the Labor Day Parade Monday, Sept. 6, 2004, in Buena Vista, Va.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine speaks during an informal press conference in the lobby of the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, VA Friday, Feb. 2, 2007.
Virginia Governor-elect Tim Kaine reacts to applause from the Richmond Renaissance at the organization's annual meeting at the Jefferson Hotel. Kaine addressed the group.
Tim Kaine speaks during the gubernatorial debate against Jerry Kilgore at the Hilton McLean in Tysons Corner on Tuesday, September 13, 2005.
Gov. Tim Kaine, visiting Richmond International Raceway for the Crown Royal 400, chatted with fans in the infield. Here, he poses for a picture with Sunsiri Martin of Sandston.
Philip Vasquez, head of the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia, holds up a paper signed, in Spanish, by Virginia Governor-elect Tim Kaine, after he met the media and announced his transition team during a news conference in Richmond, VA Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005.
Gov. Tim Kaine delivers the keynote speech at the 2006 Winter Commencement Convocation at Virginia State University in Petersburg Saturday. (Lisa Billings/For the Times-Dispatch)
Lt. Governor Timothy Kaine, during an interview with reporter Frank Green on 1/9/04.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine takes aim while shooting skeet in Hardy, Va., before a news conference Friday, Aug. 26, 2005. Kaine stressed his outdoors lifestyle and support for the 2nd Amendment.
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell (left) listens as Gov. Tim Kaine discusses his action on firearms background checks during a press conference at the Patrick Henry Building at Capitol Square in Richmond.
Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner, left, receives a standing ovation from cabinet members and Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, right, as he enters the committee room of the General Assembly Building in Richmond to present his budget proposals to the joint House and Senate money committees Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2003.
Gov. Tim Kaine is greeted by his wife, Anne Holton, as he arrives to deliver his first State of the Commonwealth speech on Monday 1/16/06.
Tim Kaine briefly donned a Krispy Kreme hat to show his affection for the shop at 4910 W. Broad St., which was holding an auction of some Krispy Kreme memorabilia for charity. The shop is actually across the city line in Henrico, and Kaine joked about attempts by the city to annex the donut shop.
Gov.-elect Tim Kaine (left) and Gov. Mark Warner share a smile as they meet with reporters outside the Executive Mansion on Friday, Nov. 11, 2005.
Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine during an interview July 7, 1998.