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Kaine talks careers with public policy students

  • "Fatherly advice"
    "Fatherly advice"  Tim Kaine, DNC Chairman and former Virginia Governor, talked frankly with graduate and undergraduate students in W&M's Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy about careers in public service Nov. 15 in the Sir Christopher Wren Building.  Photo by Suzanne Seurattan
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Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine visited campus Monday night to speak with students in the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy. Kaine, also the former Governor of Virginia, talked about his career, past and present.

I’m an “accidental politician” said Kaine, telling the audience he went to college to become a journalist.

His eventual choice in government service, he said, has been a rewarding one and a career path he would recommend. “What I say here is nothing but encouragement.”

With the encouragement Kaine also offered what he described as “fatherly” advice. “By all means do it, just not right away,” he said, noting the best policy makers he knows are ones that bring expertise from another career into the mix. 

His recommendation to “take a lot of economics classes” drew some moans from the audience.  Kaine also advised the students to live simply.

“It gives you enormous freedom to do what you want to do,” he said. “Don’t get yourself trapped into something you don’t want to do.

Kaine was elected to the Richmond City Council in 1994 and served seven years, including a term as the city’s mayor from 1998 to 2001. In 2006 he was elected Governor of Virginia. He served in that post until 2010. Since that time, he has been Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

In a question-and-answer session following his opening remarks, Kaine answered questions ranging from conservation and renewable energy to K – 12 and higher education. He also addressed the Democratic Party’s recent Election Day loses.

“We went into [the mid-term election] knowing it would be hard,” he said.

Kaine added the party remained confident about the 2012 election.

“No president has lost the House in mid-term and not been re-elected.  That being said,” he continued, “there were mistakes made.”

Still, Kaine said he sees signs of a recovering economy that could be beneficial to Democrats in the 2012 election.