While presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate on Friday prompted praise from many Democrats, Republicans hoped the choice would inspire criticism from some progressives who had supported Bernie Sanders.
Donald Trump and GOP leaders aimed to galvanize Sanders supporters who might be skeptical of Clinton’s choice due to Kaine’s support for NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his recent support for reducing regulations on small- and medium-sized banks. Trump called Kaine “an ethically challenged insider” in a statement following the announcement.
“The Bernie Sanders supporters are furious with the choice of Tim Kaine, who represents the opposite of what Bernie stands for. Philly fight?” he tweeted Saturday morning, making an appeal to Sanders voters, as he did during his speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.
“After spending last week pandering to grassroots Democrats with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton has chosen someone who holds positions that she’s spent the entire primary trying to get to the left of,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.
Sanders, himself, and progressive Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren—whom many Sanders supporters had hoped would be Clinton’s running mate—haven’t yet publicly commented on the pick. But Clinton’s campaign released statements from leaders of progressive groups—including the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and the AFL-CIO— hailing the decision.
Kaine, a devout Catholic, has identified as personally anti-abortion but has supported abortion rights legislation.
“Hillary has chosen a leader who has dedicated his life to fight for equity and justice in our country,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said in a statement. “Never before has a presidential campaign or party platform had a stronger commitment to reproductive health.”
Other Democrats, including many who had been on Clinton’s vice presidential shortlist, and at least one Republican, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, praised the choice ahead of Clinton and Kaine’s first official appearance together as running mates. They are scheduled to appear at a rally in Miami on Saturday at noon.