Sen. Tim Kaine is taking a break from the campaign trail to prepare for next week’s vice presidential debate.
Hillary Clinton’s running mate is heading to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he will prepare for the debate alongside a team of campaign aides and advisers through Saturday.
He has no public events scheduled in the swing state. This comes after a several-day swing jam-packed with fundraisers, rallies, office visits, roundtables, and even an appearance at a pow wow.
Lawyer and agent Bob Barnett is playing the role of Gov. Mike Pence as Kaine prepares.
“He’s an attorney who kind of makes a specialty in prepping the VP contender in Democratic presidential elections going back many, many years. So he’s done a lot of this and he is extremely tough,” Kaine told reporters aboard his campaign plane last week.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is playing the role of Kaine for Pence.
“I thought it was an interesting choice,” Kaine said of Walker.
The senator and former governor, mayor and city councilman is no stranger to the debate stage, but the vice presidential debate has a different dynamic: He will be debating on behalf of the Clinton-Kaine ticket, not just himself.
“It’s a different kind of a debate for me because I have done debates where it’s, at the end of it, ‘please vote for Tim Kaine.’ If I talk too much about Tim Kaine during my debate, I’m wasting my time. It would not be a good way to use of my time,” he said.
This time, “it is about two visions for the country. And it’s about a Clinton presidency or a Trump presidency.”
“I am not the main event, so I’m in an in-between space. And I’ve not done that before, obviously, it’s a unique kind of a debate,” Kaine said.
The flip side of that challenge: debating both Mike Pence and the Trump-Pence ticket.
“I’ve been in elected life for 22 years, it’s not knowing another fact, but it is about thinking hard about the material, thinking hard about Pence’s record, and also what Pence’s record would say about the guy who chose him, since it really is more about Donald Trump than it is about Gov. Pence,” he said.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters his Senate colleague needs to make the case Tuesday night that his counterpart, Mike Pence, is an “extreme” candidate.
“(Pence) seems to be a good person, but his political thoughts are not in the mainstream. I think Tim’s is very much in the mainstream,” Nelson said while traveling with Kaine in Florida this week. “And so I think that’s going to be a contrast with Gov. Pence: mainstream versus more extreme.”
The campaign has been mum on the details of his preparation, but there are signs Kaine has been practicing on the trail.
At a mid-September Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington, he criticized the Indiana governor on marriage equality.
“Mike Pence is a guy who believes marriage equality will cause societal collapse. He ran a one-man crusade to allow Indiana businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, yet Donald Trump saw this and thought, this is the person I want helping me govern this country,” he said.
In Reno last week, he hit his opponent on climate change.
“My opponent for vice president, Mike Pence of Indiana, says it’s a myth. I just, I don’t know where to — if you don’t accept science, where do I start with you?” he said.
And on Sunday, Kaine tied him to his attacks on Trump regarding praise of Vladimir Putin.
“He (Trump) and Mike Pence both have said that Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama,” Kaine said at Miami-Dade College. “I mean the thing that I’ve found funny is Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t understand the difference between dictatorship and leadership.”
The debate will be on the Virginia senator’s home turf, October 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, just over an hour from his hometown of Richmond. It is the first and only vice presidential debate of the election.