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Kaine: Pence Record Is 'Anti-Civil Rights'

Virginia Gov. Mike Pence, a potential Hillary Clinton running mate, says GOP VP choice Mike Pence has an "anti-civil rights" record.
Tim Kaine
Former Gov. Tim Kaine, smiles as he addresses the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Tech Town Hall in Reston, Va., on June 28, 2012.Cliff Owen / AP

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, one of Hillary Clinton's top potential running mates, reacted to Donald Trump's choice for the GOP ticket for the first time Sunday, telling NBC News that he doesn't know Indiana Gov. Mike Pence but viewed his record as "anti-civil rights."

Trump “is entitled to make his pick, so I don’t really have any comments on it right now,” Kaine said. “The only real way I know him is because of the controversy of his activities to really crack down on LGBT, and then that controversy, and the other things that I would kind of view as very anti-civil rights.”

“That’s very different than the way we want to do things,” Kaine continued. “But Trump’s entitled to make his pick. I’m sure more on that later.”

Kaine appeared with Clinton at a campaign rally for the first time since before the Virginia primary on Thursday, in what was broadly viewed as an audition for the role of her vice presidential pick.

“We talked about everything,” Kaine said about his interactions with Clinton that day. “We talked about you know, just the state of the race, but mostly what we talked about is Virginia. Virginia had not been in anybody’s list of the states where you should really do a lot of competition because we were so non-competitive up until 2008. And with that vigorous crowd there, it was fun to talk about the fact that Virginia now is relevant and that was good.”

He denied there were any conversations about the vice presidency. “Nope,” he said. “We were talking about the rally and we were talking about Virginia.”

Kaine, a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Services Committee, also reacted to the news of the failed coup attempt by members of the military in Turkey, noting the country is a an ally of the U.S., a part of NATO, and necessary component in the fight against ISIS.

“Any attempt to overflow a democratic government – even if it’s a democratic government that’s doing things very differently than we would do them is troubling,” he said. “Our hope is that President Erdogan, having resisted the coup, obviously there would be consequences but they should be consequences within the norms of what a democracy would do -- protecting human rights, and not going overboard and penalizing people for participating in politics.”

Kaine noted “it’s better for the world” that the military not take over a country like Turkey, though there are still concerns. “The worry about this in the aftermath is Erdoğan will go farther and undermine human rights, and if he does that then he’s going to create the very kind of backlash that he doesn’t want to see,” he said.

The deadly attack in Nice, France, where a man drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 and injuring more than 200 was “very, very troubling,” Kaine added. While investigators work to learn more about whether an individual responsible was linked to a terror group or was self-radicalized, the senator added that ISIS is losing enormous ground in Syria and Iraq and “their days are numbered.”

“They know that their physical real estate is going to get defeated and they are going to lose, but then they’re more focused on doing things,” Kaine continued, “whether it’s a bombing of a jet in Sinai or attacks in Paris, or Istanbul, trying to inspire lone wolfs, it is a large scale effort to try to counter this violent extremism that we will have to work on with our allies.”

Pence and Kaine
Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, left, and Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim KaineAP