Tim Kaine's abortion predicament

His personal opposition to abortion generated significant scrutiny back in 2008 when Barack Obama, an abortion rights supporter, included the then-Virginia governor on his short list of running mates. Kaine’s hometown newspaper in Richmond flagged the potentially awkward partnership right away, pointing out the philosophical and policy differences in a side-by-side graphic widely republished by media outlets across the country…

But he hasn’t always advanced policies directly in line with abortion rights advocacy groups. He pledged in his 2005 gubernatorial campaign to reduce the number of terminated pregnancies in the state by promoting adoption and abstinence-focused education. That cycle, the state NARAL chapter ripped Kaine’s GOP opponent, Jerry Kilgore, as “an extremely anti-choice candidate” but still withheld its endorsement of Kaine because he “embraces many of the restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.”

In a 2007 NARAL scorecard, Kaine was described as a “mixed-choice” governor and his state got an F grade thanks in part to a number of existing laws and other policies restricting access to abortions. Two years later, Kaine upset both local and national reproductive rights groups by signing a law that authorized the sale of customized “Choose Life” license plates. Kaine argued he was supporting free speech, but his critics complained that the law would fund pro-life organizations and didn’t square with another very important hat that he was also wearing at the time: Obama’s personally picked head of the Democratic National Committee.