WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama formally announced Thursday that Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, one of the president-elect’s closest allies who was once on the short list to become his running mate, will run the Democratic National Committee.
Appearing with Kaine at DNC headquarters in Washington, Obama said the party must build on his campaign’s success by reaching out to Americans in every state and recruiting new candidates that share his governing philosophy.
“We must build a movement for change that can endure beyond a single election,” Obama said.
The man for that job, he said, is Kaine. Obama called the Virginia governor a progressive problem-solver who also understands that “politics is tough.”
He praised Kaine’s legislative record in the commonwealth, particularly his plans to expand early education access and fix Virginia’s clogged roadways, even though the governor has been forced to scale back those initiatives because of budget constraints.
Obama said Kaine - who will serve as governor and chairman simultaneously until his term in Richmond expires in January 2010 - is the right man “to remake the Democratic party to better meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
Kaine listed three goals, beginning with a promise to be “a passionate and positive promoter” of Obama’s agenda and to “carry a proud banner for a proud party.”
He said he was “most excited” to develop new ways to engage voters, much like the Obama campaign did throughout the 2008 presidential race.
“The story of this campaign was less about the inspiration and more about the organization,” Kaine said.
Despite the noticeable absence of current DNC chair Howard Dean, who was traveling to American Samoa, both men praised Dean as a “visionary” because of his implementation of the so-called “50-state strategy” that funneled party resources to traditionally Republican regions of the country. Kaine said he has “huge shoes to fill.”
Although the announcement was billed a “press conference,” the pair did not take any questions from reporters.
After the event, the DNC announced that the veteran political organizer Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, who worked for John Edwards in 2008, will be the party’s executive director.