In his first joint interview with Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton, vice presidential pick Tim Kaine described himself as a "utility player" who "hadn't missed a rung" on his slow and steady ascent through the political ranks.
"I've been a city councilman and mayor," Kaine, U.S. senator from Virginia, said on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday night. "I've been a lieutenant governor and governor and now in the Senate serve on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committee."
"I've climbed, and I haven't missed a rung on the ladder," he added.
That experience, Kaine said, not only would help Clinton win, but would also make her presidency "fantastic." (Though just in case, Kaine joked, he does have a fallback plan: his "mean harmonica" skills, as Clinton put it.)
To Clinton, Kaine's deep background in politics made him the perfect choice to take the presidential reins if needed. "Secondly," she added, "he's a progressive who likes to get things done. That's how I describe myself."
During the interview, Clinton appeared to put a new spin on a grievance her campaign has regularly raised throughout the campaign: "I often feel like there's 'the Hillary Standard' and then there's the standard for everybody else," she said.
Clinton used the phrase after host Scott Pelley described a recent interview with a young black man who cited Clinton's "corruption problems" as a support-stopper. But when pressed for details, Pelley said, the man had none.
"People are very willing to say things about me, to make accusations about me," Clinton said. "I don't get upset about them anymore, but they ... are very regrettable."
Last week's Republican National Convention offered a powerful reminder of why Clinton is seeking the presidency, she said, despite those "mean-spirited attacks."
"I really believe in this country," Clinton said. "And boy, do I believe in it now more than ever after seeing what was presented last week. I believe that we are better than what we are hearing in the political discourse."
On this point, Kaine agreed.
Citing Republican nominee Donald Trump's favorite shorthand for Clinton — "Crooked Hillary" — or a preferred chant among Republican convention-attendees ("lock her up"), Kaine called such language "ridiculous" and said she'd admirably let the "water go off her back on this."
And so it would remain.
"I'm not going to engage [Trump] in that kind of insult fest that he seems to thrive on," Clinton added. "I'm going to talk about what he's done."