Home 2016 elections Sen. Tim Kaine: Bernie Sanders Would Be “Incredibly Risky” on Foreign Policy,...

Sen. Tim Kaine: Bernie Sanders Would Be “Incredibly Risky” on Foreign Policy, as Commander in Chief

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by Lowell

On a Hillary for America conference call a few minutes ago, Sen. Tim Kaine shared his thoughts on Hillary Clinton and what the Clinton campaign is calling “the Commander-in-Chief Gap” between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Here’s a partial transcript of Kaine’s introductory remarks, followed by other videos.

The debate last night really demonstrated a very clear and decisive difference between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, and that is a real passion and understanding and ability to be effective when it comes to one of the most important roles that a president plays, the role of Commander in Chief and chief diplomat for the country.

Secretary Clinton has just an amazing track record, including service on both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees…before her then important service as Secretary of State…The person [President Obama] wanted as the face of American diplomacy was Hillary Clinton, because he knew she could walk into any room in the world with an independent gravitas that would lead folks to immediately have respect for her. And on the contrary…and this is a very fundamental point: people come to the Senate and they work on the issues that interest them…but foreign policy and diplomacy and national security are not issues that interest [Bernie Sanders]...that’s the choice that he gets to make…but because of the important role that a Commander in Chief plays, because of the importance of American diplomacy to global stability.

I just think somebody who’s never really shown much of an interest in these topics is an incredibly risky bet…What folks saw last night [from Sanders was] repetition of phrases again and again, and kind of slogans, but no real details...We’ve got to have a Commander in Chief…who wouldn’t [as Donald Trump has been doing] talk about our military with disrespect and contempt, she’d talk about it with gratitude and respect…[Both Turkey’s and Israel’s leaders] were asking me about some of the extreme and frankly anti-diplomatic rhetoric coming out of the [Republican candidates]… 

Hillary Clinton is the right person to demonstrate [foreign policy and national security] leadership immediately upon taking the oath of office in January 2017 as I hope she’ll do.

More audio on the “flip,” including on Sanders’ criticism of Clinton on the Iraq War. 


…It seems like [attacking Hillary Clinton over her 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq is] kind of Bernie’s only play, when issues come up that would require that he show some mastery of the issues or even interest in the issues, he just says “Secretary Clinton voted for the Iraq War.” That’s just not enough for the challenges that are going to confront America in 2017. And I think the debate last night did a pretty good job of exposing – whether it was on what should be done in Afghanistan or what’s the right strategy to combat ISIL – these are just not issues that Bernie can address with a lot of fluency. And again, no surprise…these issues of foreign policy, diplomacy, national security they’ve just not been areas of interest for him.

Kaine says he encouraged Clinton to run for president in April 2014 because “I felt like head and shoulders she would be the best person,” but that he didn’t have any “illusions that this would be easy.” According to Kaine, Clinton will “be the underdog until the last vote is counted,” given that she’s trying to be the first woman elected president and also in the post-Citizens United enviroment. Kaine added that the “Iowa and New Hampshire were two of Bernie’s best three states – Vermont being the third; he just happened to get a good calendar draw.” Kaine feels that Clinton is well positioned for the upcoming contests, including in Virginia (“I think she’s going to do fine”). “You’ve got to have the person who can get the job done, and…there’s just really, on the results side, no comparison between Secretary Clinton and any of the other candidates, including Senator Sanders.”