The long list of Democrats lining up behind a potential Hillary Clinton presidential bid will add another bold-faced name Saturday, when Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will throw his support behind Clinton.
In a speech Saturday morning in the early primary state of South Carolina, the senator will say that Clinton is the best person for the job, according to excerpts of his remarks shared with National Journal ahead of their delivery.
“I stand with you today to encourage Hillary Clinton to run, to pledge my support for her candidacy if she does and to ask you to make that same pledge,” Kaine is expected to say during a speech to the South Carolina Women’s Democratic Council breakfast in Columbia. He’s in town to give the keynote address to the state party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner.
Kaine was an early supporter of Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary. And after he became president, Obama appointed Kaine to lead the national party committee. But he’s now one of the many Obama-supporting Democrats who have come around on Clinton.
“In 2006, nearly 2 years before the 2008 presidential election, I told my friend, then-Senator Barack Obama, that I would support him if he ran for president of the United States,” Kaine will say. “I’m stating my support for Hillary Clinton today for the same reason. She’s the right person for the job.”
Obama beat Clinton in South Carolina, which followed only Iowa and New Hampshire in the presidential primary process, by nearly 30 percentage points.
Kaine will go on to say that we need more women in power. “So I’m doing my bit now to encourage Hillary Clinton to run. I’m encouraging my constituents in Virginia and also encourage all of you to do the same thing by joining the Ready for Hillary movement that already has two million supporters. Pledge your support right now so that Hillary Clinton will know that, should she take this step, there are millions of us ready to take the field with her and make sure she wins,” he will say, according to the excerpts.
Kaine joins every female Democrat in the Senate, who collectively encouraged Clinton to run in a private letter sent last year, in anoucing his backing of Clinton. Many other party leaders have pledged their support as well, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, both of whom snubbed Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary.
Kaine’s replacement as chair of the DNC, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is officially remaining neutral for the 2016 primary, since she has to referee the process, but she was a national cochair of Clinton’s 2008 campaign.
The super PAC Ready for Hillary, which Kaine references, has raised millions of dollars and attracted over 2 million supporters since starting early last year.