Washington (CNN) – Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine’s trip to South Carolina this weekend to address the state Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner comes with dash of 2016 presidential intrigue.
A Spanish-fluent former Democratic Party chairman and one-time governor from an emergent swing state in the South, Kaine’s understated political skills and sterling reputation among party insiders would make him an instantly credible White House candidate, if a dark horse.
Of course, that’s if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run. And Kaine will make it known on Saturday that he plans to support to Clinton in 2016 if she decides to embark on a White House bid, according to Democrats familiar with his plans.
Kaine is to announce at a South Carolina Women’s Democratic Council breakfast in Columbia that he is joining Ready for Hillary, a pro-Clinton Super PAC that’s been laying political groundwork for the former Secretary of State should she seek the 2016 nomination. He's also set to deliver a short speech extolling Clinton's qualifications for the White House.
“Secretary Hillary Clinton is the best person to be our 45th President for many reasons,” Kaine will say, according to prepared remarks provided to CNN. “She is a classic American optimist with the background and experiences necessary to lead this country in a very complicated world.”
Kaine was one of Barack Obama’s first public supporters, and one of few top-tier Democrats to oppose Clinton, after Obama announced his upstart presidential campaign in 2007.
“I was and am proud that I was an early supporter of our great President,” Kaine will say on Saturday. “I made my decision early because I knew something-he was the right person for the job but getting there would be hard. And I figured that the sooner I started helping him in Virginia, the more helpful I would be.”
“I’m stating my support for Hillary Clinton today for the same reason,” he will say. “She’s the right person for the job.”
If Clinton decides not to run, Kaine will be making the most of his South Carolina jaunt with a packed political schedule that will introduce him to key Democrats in the state.
Along with the breakfast and the J-J Dinner, Kaine attended Rep. Jim Clyburn’s annual Fish Fry, a casual yearly meet-and-greet for Democratic activists and officials, on Friday evening in Columbia.