Missionary turned church choir tenor and senator ‘ready to lead’

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Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to her running-mate, Democratic U.S. vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), after she introduced him during a campaign rally in Miami, Florida, on July 23, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Scott Audette

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to her running-mate, Democratic U.S. vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), after she introduced him during a campaign rally in Miami, Florida, on July 23, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Scott Audette

PHILADELPHIA (RNS)  “I think I’m ready to lead” Senator Tim Kaine told 60 Minutes. “You gotta approach it with humility. But, you know what? You know, missionary, civil rights lawyer, local official, state official, federal official, like, I’ve climbed, and I haven’t missed a rung on the ladder.”

Hillary Clinton seems to agree. After spending months agonizing over her decision and considering three hundred candidates, she tapped the Virginia Senator for an important role in her new administration.

He will teach her Sunday School class in Washington.

“He is qualified to step into this job and lead on day one,” Clinton said about Kaine’s readiness to serve. “In both of our families, faith wasn’t just something you talked about at church on Sundays, it was a call to serve others in every way we can. During law school, when his fellow classmates were taking internships at prestigious law firms, he took time off to work with missionaries in Honduras.”

Kaine’s priest at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond, Virginia, has served as an important character reference for the Clinton camp. “I think Tim [is] just almost too honest for politics because he’s so straightforward and has this twinkle in his eye,” Rev. James Arsenault told National Public Radio. “Maybe that’s his Irish wit. And he really extends a hand to help people and is very compassionate, approachable, available and friendly.”

While critics of Kaine have called him too moderate for the important position, his defenders have highlighted his missionary work in Honduras, which Kaine described as a time that “changed my life in so many ways.” The Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky stuck it to Kaine’s detractors the most pointedly:

“I sure wasn’t a missionary teaching English to poor people in Central America, and I doubt most of the lefties now outraged by his pick were either.”

(A note from The Literalist: all quotes are real.)